On Avoiding Burnout

I had a moment last Friday where I just stared at the amount of work I had left to complete and wanted to crawl into the closet and wait for September to pass.

If I’m being honest, it’s been much longer than a moment, because I still want to do that. At this point in time, I’m in the middle of the first round of revisions on Broken Down, pre-edits for Game of Shadows, and review requests for Hidden Scars. That doesn’t take into account the chapters I need to write to complete the first drafts of Impulse Control and the second GoS book, the chapters left to revise for Run, or the rest of the promo tasks for the Hidden Scars launch.

Even my lovely to-do lists can’t keep me from feeling a bit overwhelmed.

As if they read my mind (more likely, someone else said something to prompt all of these tweets), a few authors I follow on Twitter started tweeting about the need to recognize burn out and take a break:

Burnout tweet 3 Burnout tweet 2


Victoria Dahl also tweeted a link to an older Tumblr post of hers on her decision not to write anything for four months.

Then there were Chelsea M. Cameron’s tweets:

Burnout tweet 6Burnout tweet 5Burnout tweet 4

Here’s the thing: I write or revise every day, or I try to, at least. And it’s not always because I want to. Sometimes, like now, for instance, I have to. It’s not a matter of going crazy if I don’t. It’s a matter of not meeting deadlines, self-imposed or otherwise, if I’m not making some sort of forward progress. So while I wish I could not boot up my laptop for a few days and spend that time watching series 7 of MI-5, I’m shit out of luck for now.

I try to look at the bright side. I’ve only got a handful of chapters left to revise on Broken Down before I can send it on to a beta reader, and as I skim those chapters, I don’t see a lot of substantial changes that need to be made to keep it in line with what I did to the previous parts of the story. I’m about ten chapters away from finishing those pre-edits for Game of Shadows, and I tend to do several chapters in one go – which means, theoretically, that could be done in a couple of days. And those review requests? I’d already decided to send out fewer this round than last time. There’s a few left to send, and then I can focus on the remaining promo tasks.

Normally, I’d try to work in an hour or two where I’m not doing something that needs to be done. But that doesn’t always happen, either. Because August has turned out to be the Month of Review Books, I’ve had to spend a good portion of my reading time on books that I may have chosen to review but are starting to carry that aura of book report book: I have to read this book. A lot of times I’ll either read or watch an episode of White Collar (my current Netflix show) while I’m eating dinner. Haven’t been able to do that for the past two weeks because I’m trying to finish these three top bullet points as quickly as possible.

It sucks, but sometimes those breaks just aren’t possible. If it’s not one thing, it’s another, and you have to push through to the next until everything is done.

After Fracture released, I took a week off. If I turned my computer on, it was to watch an episode of White Collar or check email. I’d already planned to do the same thing after Hidden Scars released (schedule permitting), but now I think I may need to do it sooner. I need to reclaim that balance before I lose it completely, or I may not have the energy or desire to follow through on all seven of those planned releases.

I keep telling myself it’s just a few more days, then I can spend the rest of this week goofing off. Fingers crossed I’m right.

How do you avoid burnout?


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