Every creative art seems to rely on inspiration and the muse. However, the muse doesn’t always strike, and burn out and a lack of inspiration are very real. They can cripple your writing.
Thankfully, I haven’t really had to struggle with burn out much. But I have in the past. One time I experienced a little bit of burn out was during NaNoWriMo in 2018. When I did NaNoWriMo for the first time, I was pumped up about it. I was ready. I was going to win it.
About halfway to the goal of 50,000, my inspiration started to wane. Writer’s block was starting to come over me.
I was not going to let myself not write, and I wasn’t able to work towards my NaNoWriMo victory without feeling like I was burning out. I needed to get my creative juices flowing.
To get my imagination up and running, I sat down and did some free writing. I wrote about visiting Seljalandsfoss, a waterfall in Iceland that I absolutely adore. It is so incredible.
I did my free writing differently than my NaNo writing to get my brain out of the rut I was stuck in. I wrote in a different tense and style. I let my imagination and creativity run wild, all while staying in the bounds of what the waterfall is actually like. I ended up writing a small chunk of text and getting my imagination running. Then I flew to work on my NaNoWriMo project, inspiration and creativity flowing.
So, when inspiration and motivation start to wane, try change up your writing style. Halfway through my second novel, I started to get burn out again. I was still looking forward to writing and working on my book, but I wasn’t very excited and I wasn’t churning out as many words. So what did I do? I stepped away.
I took a entire day-long break from my book to recharge my imagination through different writing styles. I wrote a short story and a bit of non-fiction, both of which were very different from the book I was working on. I was using the creativity that had built up for others areas of writing to allow the rest of my creativity to recharge.
Now, you may reach a point where you are just so stuck and burnt out that writing anything doesn’t help. It doesn’t matter how different it is; it isn’t working. So then what do you do?
Stop writing. If you keep writing, you will slowly erase all of your love for writing and burn yourself out completely. Go read a book. Edit something you’ve finished. Spend time outside. Look at photo or dialogue prompts, but don’t make yourself write something off of them unless you are burning to, until inspiration comes back with a new batch of plot bunnies ready to be unleashed.
Now, you have to be cautious when taking a break from your writing that you don’t go too far away. Getting back into writing after you haven’t been writing is hard. It requires a lot of self-discipline, and your imagination can start to rust a little. But, if you are truly in a spot where continuing to write will kill your writing, don’t do it. Take the break you need, but don’t let the break last longer than it should be. If you pay attention to yourself, you’ll realize if you’re ignoring your project when you could and should be writing.
Writing is hard. Everyone who writes will tell you that. But never give up on your writing. Keep plugging away at them!
Until next time!