Friday, December 11, 2015

Self-care for Writers (Part 9 of 11)

Avoid burnout. I use that term to refer to a condition in which we lack motivation and feel inefficient and exhausted. If we push ourselves we tend to become frustrated and even cynical. (“Who cares? Do I make any difference?”)

What’s called occupational burnout strikes those in what we call the human service professions such as social workers, teachers, police officers, nurses, and professional writers. This comes about because of the high-stress they go through. And for most writers I know, it means that in their scramble to make enough money to survive, they lose their enthusiasm. They become careless, disengaged, and indifferent about their work.

Lack of self-care is one of the strong ingredients for feeling used up and asking yourself why you’re in this crazy profession. In my more than 30 years of full-time writing, I’ve hit burnout twice and I wondered if I’d ever write again. I recognized three significant facts:

1. Too much work;

2. Too few results;

3. Too little self-care.

I was not only emotionally disengaged, but both times I did the only sensible thing I could: I stepped away from my work. The first time I didn’t write anything for two months and about a month the second time. I read for many hours, exercised more, and accomplished tasks I’d been putting off.

Good self-care practices 
keep me free from burnout.


  1. "But I can't afford to do that," I protest. A little voice comes right back, "But you can't afford NOT to." Thanks for giving me permission to take off time this year during the holidays!

  2. Thank you for the permission to take care of ourselves!


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