Some would argue that I’m the last person who should write a blog about this but I would point out that’s what makes it a perfect topic for me to tackle.
My first year of indie publishing, I put out 7 books in 11 months and I thought that was a lot. It sure felt like a lot. I had and still have, a part time day job but the rest of my time has been spent writing or editing. I’ve put most everything else aside and for the first year that was fine but it wasn’t sustainable. Because I am a workaholic, no doubt there, I can justify spending all my time working but I also like going out with friends and having a life outside of work. This proved near impossible with my schedule.
I recently took a class to learn how to write faster but the crux of the class was learning what works for me as an individual. Finding my strengths and working with them. Although I am writing a little faster, the class gave me permission to do what feels right for me instead of trying to fit into someone else’s “right”. So the book that tells me to write for four hours straight every day is the method that works for the person who wrote that book. The person who suggests waking up at 6am to write is what works for them. I have to figure out what works for me but what works for me won’t work for everyone.
I constantly compare myself to authors who write a book a month. I don’t understand how they do it and I don’t know why I can’t. Yet other authors can’t understand how I can write and edit one every 2 months. What others can do does not relate to what you can do. What I do know is that my schedule of writing a book every 2 months was too much for me. The teacher of the write better, faster class, Becca Syme told me that I’m the type of personality that pushes myself hard—to the point of burnout. And when you hit burnout, she said, “you will take much longer to recover.” That may not be the same for everyone but I do believe that burnout is universal. Each person may recover differently and how long it takes for each person to hit it will vary. But as an alternative healthcare practitioner I can attest that burnout is very real. I see it in my office every week. We live in an unbalanced society that rewards people for working harder, longer hours.
So what’s the solution? For some people it may be to take a month off from writing or even a week. For me, I’ve slowed down. Instead of writing one book while editing another, I’ve focused on one at a time. I make more time to hang out with friends and live my life. I take more breaks which include exercising, reading books, laying out in the sun and even shopping. I plan my breaks. If I sit and accomplish 2,000 words (or whatever the goal is) I get to take 30 minutes for a long walk or a short hike.
Burnout is real. It’s not if it’ll happen, it’s when and for how long.
I can’t afford burnout. If I hit it I will lose all the momentum I’ve gained. Another solution is to say no to things that don’t light me up. So if someone asks me to do something that’s an hour away and the long drive feels insurmountable I say no. If I’m invited to an event that feels like a burden, even if they want me to go terribly, I still say no. But I say it with kindness and I thank them for thinking of me.
Self-care has moved to the top of my list. I encourage you to make those lists, even if they’re only in your head. Where do you want to be in a year from now and what, realistically, will it take to get there? Then ask yourself if you’re willing to sacrifice some things to achieve those goals and if so, what things?
Make self-care a priority and don’t forget to reward yourself for your efforts and achievements. My reward to myself is traveling, indulging in my favorite chocolate, reading and hanging out with friends. What’s yours?
by Chloe Adler