We’ve all been there: You’ve had a long, rough day at work or taking care of the kids, then you cook dinner, clean, and spend some time with the family…
…and after all that, the last thing you want to do before calling it a day is write.
It’s not just “writer’s block”; this is something else entirely. Something more sinister.
This is burnout.
If you’ve ever written yourself into the ground to meet a deadline, then you know what blogging burnout feels like.
Yet there’s no getting around it – we’re all writers, in some way or fashion, and so it’s crucial that we learn to combat this productivity killer as soon as – or before – it sets in.
Here are 7 great tips for defeating blogger burnout before it has a chance to grab hold and kill your productivity:
1. Begin With the End in Mind
Yes, I stole this from Covey’s well-known The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, but it’s a perfect statement for writers as well.
Before you ever start writing, it’s important to know where you’re going. What are you trying to accomplish? Are you trying to hit a word count goal, or free-write? Maybe you’d like to wrap up a post for a freelance blogging gig?
Whatever it is, set a specific success metric – a measurable goal that clarifies what success (for this individual writing project or session) looks like.
2. Set Mini-Goals
Similarly, you want to “chunk” larger projects into more manageable pieces. Set up a schedule that allows you to knock out a portion of the writing project each day, week, or whenever you regularly sit down to write.
If you want to write a novel, for example, your “chunks” can be your chapters – plan a general structure for each chapter ahead of time, and your individual writing sessions will go much more smoothly!
3. Know Your Limits
How many words per day/hour/minute can you write?
While speed is only one possible metric you can use for determining your writing “limits”, it’s an important one.
Don’t set a word count goal or “blog posts finished” goal of more than you can handle writing in a day. Sure, it’s great to set challenges, but there’s no fun in coming up short each and every time you sit down to write.
4. Figure Out What You’re Writing
Again, this one is self-explanatory, but often forgotten. Do you plan out your blog posts, or writing “chunks”?
If not, why not?
It’s easy to pop open Evernote and scribble a simple three-part outline (intro, body, and conclusion) for a blog post, or a scene/sequel structure outline for a book, and it doesn’t take much time at all. You’ll find that your writing goes much smoother if you do this.
5. Know Your Market
One of the things that helps me – no matter what I’m writing – is to have my ideal reader in mind. Sometimes it’s as simple as declaring myself the “ideal reader” (hey, if I don’t want to read it, why would anyone else?), but other times I can “see” the reader, on the other side of my computer screen, reading through what I’ve spent so much time on.
This strategy won’t necessarily help you write more, or even more efficiently (though it can), but it will help you achieve more clarity with your assignment.
6. Every Time You Sit Down, Make Something Happen
When I first started blogging (circa 2007), this was a mantra I applied to write every day. I wanted to launch a successful blog, and I knew I needed to be posting every day (or least thought I did!).
If you make yourself do something each and every time you sit down at the computer, typewriter, or in front of a pen and paper, you’ll be one step ahead of where you were an hour ago. I’ve also found that it’s much harder to stop once I start writing than it is to get started in the first place.
7. Forget Writer’s Block – You’re a Pro
When you think you can’t write, do something else. Get up and do some jumping jacks, eat a snack, go for a walk, then come back and sit down and keep writing.
You don’t have to keep plugging away – typing, deleting, typing, deleting, etc. – on the same thing, either. Working on a tough project for a client? Put it aside and write about how tough it is.
Write a story, or work on a fiction project. Whatever it is, make sure it’s writing. Your word count goal doesn’t have to be in one specific project – sometimes I’ll hit my daily 2,000-word mark across five different writing projects I’m working on!
Always keep writing – writing can be an income stream, an escape, or a means to a greater end, but it’s always worth doing for no other reason than to write.
Stick with it, ignore writer’s block as much as possible, and when the “burnout urge” crops up, beat it down before it takes over with these 7 tips.
Have you struggled with burnout before? How did you overcome it? Leave a comment and tell me your story!
Photo by Evil Erin