Skip to content

Three Steps to Combat Writer Burnout

Are you suffering from writer burnout? You aren’t alone. Lots of writers deal with burnout. These three steps will help you refresh and move ahead.

A mug sits on a windowsill. The window is covered in frost. Image by <a href="">israelbest</a> from <a href="">Pixabay</a>
Image by israelbest from Pixabay

Sometimes it seems like everything — writing, meeting deadlines, meetings, to-do lists — swirls around at lightning speed leaving little room to breathe. It’s suffocating.

This is writer burnout.

When you find yourself in writer burnout, everything becomes strained. You are short with your loved ones. You lose sleep. The words don’t come easily. It feels like you can’t get anything done — or perhaps even do anything right. The ideas seem to dry up and no matter how hard you try to come up with new pitches, nothing comes to you. You miss deadlines because you are so stressed about the stress.

It’s a vicious cycle of writer burnout.

Are you there now? Have you been there?

You aren’t alone. In fact, so many writers feel this at some time or another. Especially now, when the competition for assignments is fiercer than ever and there are fewer of the old-school publications that used to be the bread and butter of freelancers, it’s not uncommon for the hustle to eat at your creativity.

Even your favorite writers could just be going through the same thing right now. So what do you do?

Step 1: Stop

Ok. This is going to be tough. You might even call me crazy. But what you need to do is stop.

No, really. Catch up on all those deadlines — no matter how much time it takes. Then stop. Take a day off. Maybe two or three, if you can handle it. Take a week if your schedule and budget allows. You need a breather to refocus.

Turn off the computer, step away from the iPhone and don’t check your email. Do other things — yard work, tour museums, cook, read, binge watch Doctor Who, whatever you want that isn’t writing. Take time away and let your brain rest.

Step 2: Plan

Once you’ve taken that time away and refreshed yourself, it’s time to move forward smartly. Return with renewed focus.

The secret to success at work? Planning. Whether you use an online calendar, an agenda or an endless supply of to-do lists, plan out what you need to do and when. And especially don’t forget to include things like important appointments — whether they are writing-related or something entirely different (like your kids’ big meet or performance).

Perhaps even schedule in some downtime. We all need it to recharge regularly — and as a writer experiencing life beyond your desk improves your wordflow.

Step 3: Be Honest with Yourself.

As you move forward, turn a critical eye to your career. What’s making you feel happy and fulfilled? What isn’t? What can you change to improve your work-life balance and overall mindset?

If something isn’t making you happy, consider how you can alter things to change that. Is it possible to drop the client or cease the activity? Could you find something else (like another client) instead? What steps do you need to take to make the changes necessary?

Making changes like this can be hard to stomach, but in the long run they will be better for you.

Now, it’s time to breakaway from the writer burnout, and get back on track. Are you ready?

Have you had to hit the reset button before? What changes did you make?

Published inThe BlogThe Writing Life


  1. Maureen Wallace Maureen Wallace

    Amen, sister! Great advice — that really works!

    • Sarah Walker Caron Sarah Walker Caron

      Thank you!! Hope you are well, Maureen!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *