When Writer's Block Meets Burnout
I’ve got a huge secret. The last time I completed a book was summer of 2018 and I haven’t been proud of anything I’ve written since. And it took a LOT to be proud of that book to start with. I started writing in the winter of 2014 and instantly knew I’d finally found the one thing I could do well, that I loved to do. I wrote morning, noon and night. I entered contests, I networked, I sprinted, I late night and early morning wrote. That year, as a side-gig, I pumped out 3 books and the following year, 2. 2016, 2 more books. Same for 2017. All while working full-time, growing a business and parenting 2 young children who are incredibly busy athletes, keeping our dog alive and trying desperately to keep my marriage together.
Then 2018 hit and everything started to fall apart around me. I finished the fourth book in a series I was writing and knew it was garbage. I submitted it to my editor and she told me to try again. It was missing my voice. Of course it was. Hell, I was missing my voice. I went back to the drawing board and finally came back to her with something I was moderately happy with and together with her and another editor, we molded that book back into shape and I released it to the world mid-summer of 2018.
And then I needed to write the next book to finish off the series. All of my efforts needed to be laser focused to get this book done. But the cursor just sat there and taunted me and eventually, I didn’t even try.
At the same time my coaching business was growing full-steam ahead. I’m a business coach and I have spent the past four years growing a thriving community of entrepreneurs who come to me for guidance and support and direction and most of all, motivation to do the next thing they know needs to get done. I help them quiet the noise so they can find the path.
I’d started offering a specialized segment of this business for romance writers only and my little tribe was growing. But something else was growing. The time and space between releases. The lack of energy and interest I needed to get anything on paper. In short, I wasn’t writing and writing wasn’t exciting me. And the more I didn’t write, the more I didn’t write.
I blamed it on writer’s block, but it wasn’t that. When I sat down, put on my headphones and dove in, words always came. The problem wasn’t my creativity. The problem was me, needing to force myself to sit down and write. And the fact that I wasn’t forcing myself. And avoiding most of the things I needed to do. I’d spent months upon months, perfecting my game. Getting the right things done in both businesses and then suddenly, I wasn’t getting ANYTHING done in any business. Little things, here and there, sure, but the big growth projects weren’t coming together.
And then something huge happened. My body spoke up and I had to face the truth I knew all along, I was burnt out and sick. I spend a lot of my days teaching my clients how to avoid burnout, but was now, smack dab in the middle of a nasty case of it. And so, this past week I’ve spent coming to terms with a new health diagnosis that had been hiding all along and the knowledge that a reset was long overdue and was critical to my health and the health of my business.
I’m sitting here realizing that this little blog flew from my hands. I wasn’t avoiding it. I welcomed it. Nothing like a stay in the hospital for a condition you had avoided remembering you had, to focus you in on the things that matter, both personal and business. So, what’s the moral of the story?
We get deep in the trenches and the overwhelm swirls around us and we give over to it. Just trying to stay in motion, but ignoring that little voice inside that tells us to put our pens down (putting our fingers down didn’t seem like the right phrase here, but you know what I mean) and letting ourselves be still. And silent. And not working all the time. As writers, we have the unique ability to take our work with us almost everywhere we go. It’s a blessing and a curse.
Your One Thing
I recently finished reading an amazing book, called The One Thing and it’s helped me get back on track. It’s about your mindset and from it, I’ve got this exercise that I want you to do now that you’ve stopped for a minute. Find a pen and paper and write down everything you need to do today. Just today. And put it all down. Personal and professional, get it out of your head and onto that piece of paper. Then come back to this blog.
I’m waiting. Do not read ahead until you’ve done it!
Done? Okay now, pick 5 things total that you know, deep down, if you got them done, a weight would lift off your shoulders and you’d feel really good about your day. Highlight them, underline them, star them, just do something that identifies them.
Okay, find another blank piece of paper and write those 5 things down. Then, pick 2 out of those 5 that if you got them done, the heavens would sing and you’d be able to breath. Got them?
Okay, this is the last step. Out of those two things, pick one. Pick the one thing you’ve been avoiding doing, but that deep down you know needs to get done. And do it. It might be write 5000 words, or 500 or fold and put away the laundry, but it’s one thing that will open up your day, week, year with this tiny movement.
Got your one thing? Amazing! Get it done. And then do that other thing in the 2 you chose. And when that’s done, if you get both done, move onto what’s left from that group of 5. And then see what happens if EVERY SINGLE DAY, you repeat this behaviour until it becomes the way you set up your day. Studies are now showing, that it take 66 repeats of a task for it to become habit. You’ve just managed day 1. Days 2 thru 66 are up next.
I want to hear from you as you move through this exercise every day. Report back to me via email or inside our free Facebook group. I’ve reset and can’t wait to get the right things done, and have this weird thing called…Free Time? YES!
Happening at The Socialvert This Week:
We’ve got our guest expert Mia Meade coming inside The Socialvert this week telling us how she grew to become one of the top romance authors on Wattpad, how she maintains that status and how’s she’s using it to transition to something bigger. Curious about Wattpad or just want to meet a super cool young author who’s crushing it in the new and emerging author arena. It’s a quick 30 minutes to get inspired by one of my favourite humans.
The Facebook Live will be held on our Facebook Page, The Socialvert
Event takes place: February 12th @ 10:00 PM EST