I finished writing the first draft of my next book in the Cinderella's Secret Diaries series and I have a secret to share: I'm tired of writing the series and need a break. After more than 3 years of working on books, blog posts, training for half and full marathons, I am burned out and have come to a decision. I will be taking a break for about a week or two and will focus on doing the things that I haven't been able to make time to do.
If you've reached that burned out point, here are some tips to help you:
Admit You're Burned Out
I have a hard time with this because I tend to grab onto a task and wrestle it to the ground, refusing to give up. But here I am, tired and sick of writing. I've made it through the first draft of my latest novel and I'm stepping away. I know I have a lot of work left to do, will need to do major reconstructive surgery on draft 2, and to get to a better creative place I'm simply allowing myself to admit the truth. I'm tired. I do not feel like writing my book anymore. The simple act of letting go and admitting how I feel has helped me in the past. It's allowed to me to get in touch with what I'm not happy with and find ways to get back on track. You can do the same.
Redirect Your Energy
My writing schedule is fairly simple: I get up between 5 a.m. or 5:30 a.m. and write before work. I do this on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. The rest of the week I run and train for my next race. By giving myself off from working on my latest novel, this allows me to work on blogging, maybe I'll do some freelance writing, journal writing. And what a scandal: I might choose to simple read and focus on something different. The important thing is to take the time that you used to put toward writing and trying something different. This does not mean to stop all writing, but try a different kind of writing. Flex your muscles.
Be Creative and Try Something New
I have a really crazy idea. I have been meaning to do this for almost two months now but with raising kids, working, writing, running, well, there is just never enough time. Until now. By giving myself some time off, you'll be able to try another creative project. What do I want to do? I want to learn how to play the ukulele. Sounds wacky, right? Two months ago I traveled to San Diego for a social media conference and I met a fellow attendee during a networking session who shared with me that she and her husband love playing the ukulele. I have wanted to try my hand at a musical instrument for many years now, but I've not made the time. I'm hoping my entire family will benefit and we'll sit around and sing and listen to music. If this sounds corny to you, then find something that you've always wanted to do and do it!
Exercise Frees the Mind
I learned a little more than four years ago (yeah, I'm a late learner) that regular exercise helps me deal with stress, problems and inspires me to be more creative. I have taken to running and biking. However, during my time off, I'd like to focus on building up my core to become a better runner. I'm happy with my performance as a runner, but I know that I could be faster if I spent more time in training and building up my core muscles. My goal is to have fun with exercise and to take the time to be thankful that I have come from doing no exercise four years ago to becoming a long distance runner who has completed two marathons. Getting in touch with yourself on a long run is a great way to clear the cobwebs.
Say What You Feel
This is hard for me to write, but I must. I am not happy with the first draft of my latest book. I am not happy with the plot, where some of the characters go, with some of the characters that I created and the book in general. I hate parts. I slogged through writing it over five months and I feel that I've taken too long, wasted a lot of time and that only a very small portion of the 78,000+ words is good. Have you ever felt this way? If you're a writer, you probably have. I believe that these emotions that I'm feeling are warning signs. They are signs that I need to take a break, take a step back and to express how I feel and after some time I'll get back into writing my book.
I am so frustrated with the lack of time I have to spend on writing, but, at the same time, I'm just damn tired of working on my current book. I'm sick of how wimpy the main character is and the horrible choices she's making and how the book is just driven off a cliff and burst into flames. Do I exaggerate? This is the key to getting back on track: Allow yourself some distance from your work. Take a step back, focus on other writing and other things in life and then revisit. With some distance, I'll then be able to return and sift through the 78,000 words I've written and throw out the dirty water but keep the baby. And then, I'll rewrite and rebuild. You can do the same.
Better Days Are Coming
I have written five books now and have three published. I will allow myself this break as can you. Take the break to do other writing. No matter if it's a blog, journal, poetry, film reviews--whatever floats your boat. Just do it and soon you'll be back on track. Trust yourself and allow yourself to feel why you're so disgusted with the writing you're working on. Take a step back, recharge and then come back. It'll be okay. Really.