Writing can be incredibly draining. Depending on which project or topic you are exploring you might find your creative well depleting or entirely depleted. Often writers call this phenomena writer’s block or burnout.
Filling the well will prevent you from getting to the place where you feel like you can’t work anymore. It is vital to invest time in doing the things that you love and making sure you’re in top writing condition.
My first experience with writing burnout was when I was writing about a very sensitive and raw issue. It was to do with something nasty that had happened in my past and I wanted to explore it a little bit. I’m tiptoeing around the topic now because I’m engaging in a form of self-care. I don’t want to write about it because I’ve learned a valuable lesson. Talking about this topic drains my writing ability and I still have a full day of work ahead of me so sorry, no details.
After this experience of being drained, I struggled to get back to my writing. It was only when I permanently retired the book idea that drained me that I was able to find my way back to the page. Turns out I can’t write about everything that I want to write about, at least not yet. I’ll spend some more time healing before I approach that topic again.
Identify The Leak
So if your well is currently empty think about the projects that you are working on, do any have a specific emotional drain? Think about retiring those projects, at least for a little while.
Yes, they may be important, but they are not more important than your mental health.
Sometimes a topic is important but we cannot write about it and that’s okay.
Retiring a piece of work is not failure. All of that work is not wasted, in fact, I know a lot of authors who take the elements that they loved of pieces they’ve retired and found ways to work those elements into a stronger story. Putting something on the shelf doesn’t mean it was wasted, it can be used again. Even if you don’t reuse any elements it was a valuable learning lesson, you know what you can and can’t do.
Other things that might drain you could include different aspects of the writing process. Editing drains my creative process more than writing, I find it incredibly difficult to power through editing larger projects. That being said I’ve overcome that with time and training.
Often we can feel overwhelmed or inexperienced by a part of the writing process. I had to do a couple of editing courses before I felt confident enough to tackle the edits on larger projects. This is a huge part of the reason I am now writing craft books so that you can equip yourself for the part of the writing process you are stuck on.
If you find yourself struggling with your writing feel free to take a step back and research the thing you are struggling with. No one inherently knows how to craft a story, we all have to learn the different elements of writing. It takes time and that’s okay.
How To Refill Your Well
You probably don’t want to retire every piece that might be causing you issues. Especially when sometimes the thing about writing that isn’t working might be problems in your personal life. If you can’t research away your problems and you don’t want to retire your book I have a great tip that really helps people move past writer’s block.
Talk with friends
Sometimes working through your feelings or thoughts can reinspire you to work on your story. Talking through a plot point and getting input can be exactly what you need to fill the well and get back on track. Complaining about the ins and outs of writing may be what you need.
That little vent can release the pressure and you can get back to work.
Take time off
Giving yourself permission to take time off is a great way to refill the well.
I temporarily shelved a project that I was struggling to edit. I’ve picked it up again since but I’m so happy I took a break. Often we find ourselves procrastinating and we get a guilty feeling about that. If we decide to give ourselves the time off and get rid of that unnecessary guilt it can be just the thing we need to pull ourselves back together.
I’ll take some time off if I don’t feel like writing, not because I’m lazy or unmotivated but simply because I’m not a creative machine. Sometimes I need a half-hour away from my screen to refocus or do something that builds up my strength. Walk away from the screen and give yourself time to think.
Guilt-free time to yourself can allow those creative juices to flow a bit more freely.
A lot of writers scoff at this one, but sometimes even doing some gentle stretches and relaxing the body can help you get back to work. I often check my posture while writing and make sure that I’m not all scrunched up with stress.
If I’m writing in a relaxed posture I am more likely to spend a long time in front of my computer. Sometimes staring at my page helps me to figure out what the creative hold up is. That means my body might need to stay in a working upright posture for a while. That takes a lot of care, consideration and proper posture training. It’s important that we take time to appreciate and look after our bodies making sure that we have a posture that facilitates our work is important. Taking care of our bodies is just as important as taking care of our minds.
I started doing yoga every morning before sitting at my desk and this has greatly improved my writing posture and in turn, has helped me keep my butt in the chair for an extended period of time.
Along the same vein going for a skate, a walk or a run can be a great way to get the blood pumping through your body again. Getting out and doing something can make or break me. Exercise helps me to relax, get my body moving, and give me a second wave for the second half of the day.
Sometimes you just need a good old spoil. Give yourself an at-home spa experience, cut those cuticles, put on that facemask. Do what you have to do to unwind. Maybe digest other people’s stories by watching television or reading.
Guilt-free relaxation is an important part of the creative process. Writing isn’t just about the hustle, we writers need to focus on making the work sustainable too.
Do something you’ll thank yourself for.
As always, I cannot wait to see you on the bookshelf.