Burnout city – population – me?

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7 Responses

  1. From experience I think sometimes holding your hands up and saying ‘I. Can’t. Do. This. Any. More’ feels harder than everything else you’ve managed to keep on doing. Conversely, it can be the lowest point because you’re stuck in that tunnel and finally accepting that it’s pitch black but it’s also the point when you can begin to do something about finding that light again.

    I think you’re taking some really positive steps and I’m sure everyone who has any ounce of sense or decency will support you. Have some ‘down but not out’ time and let people find their own feet for a while!!

    Take care!

  2. While I haven’t experienced burnout in writing — yet — it did happen to me some years ago as an EMT, when I was trying to be a volunteer firefighter and EMT in addition to working my full time job and writing. One too many bad runs, and suddenly I was experiencing *all* those symptons and then some. Anyone who thinks it’s not real isn’t paying attention.

  3. Really good post, Kai. I’ve felt that recently with marketing. It’s especially frustrating when you feel strongly that you *have* to get it done. You’re right, though. It’s okay to say “enough.” I’m slowly making my way back to marketing. Thanks for the encouragement!

  4. The first time I experienced burnout was when I was still working. The job itself was difficult, with a lot of traveling 60-80 hour workweeks, a story that was just killing me not to be able to concentrate on and little support at home. I crashed big time… woke up that morning in a motel at the client’s location throwing up. That night I quit my job. I crawled into bed, crawled out and started writing until the story was done. The marriage didn’t last long after that either.
    It’s in my nature, though, to be driven.
    Now I have to recognize when the signs are there and I was getting close again recently. When people start telling you that they’re amazed at all you’re getting done and all you’re doing… it’s time to take a step back and recognize that they’re right, you need to slow down and reorganize your priorities. It’s especially difficult for writers, though, as many people view what we do as easy or undemanding, or even worse as a hobby – when for us it can be delightful, wonderful, amazing, and also difficult, demanding and a lifelong dream we’re driven to achieve. Finding that balance can seem almost impossible at times, but it’s worth it the first time someone reads what you wrote and says it transported/transfixed or amazed them.

  5. I do understand burnout, though writer’s burnout hasn’t happened to me yet. Hope you get through it soon, my friend!

  6. Rusty says:

    You took the words right out of my mind. While the last week was spent in the hospital, I spent the first 3 days worrying because I “should” be home writing (I don’t own a laptop or I would have.) And then I realized that part of the reason I was back in the hospital was obsessing over my own personal deadlines to the point I was either writing or thinking about what I should write, editing, keeping up with writing groups.
    Now please, don’t misunderstand, I LOVE to write – it’s always been my first love. But when it consumes you to the point of the rest of life being ignored, that’s just not healthy. The work will be done, and probably better now that I’ve been forced to be away from it. I was writing when I was so ill I was literally bent over the keyboard in pain and still going at it. THAT’S RIDICULOUS! There is a life out there and writing should be a part of it but NOT the totality. So I’ve pulled back on the hours I write – put a deadline on how long that I write and if I don’t reach the amount of pages that I had in mind, or the amount of words, oh well, I can’t to anything if I’m ill . . . or worse. And I came pretty damn close to it being ‘the worse.’
    So Kai, I say take whatever time you need, do what you want to do and go find yourself a beach, even if it’s in your mind. If you don’t take care of you, we all will lose a very dear person and friend.

  7. I have suffered from burnout four times in my life, roughly every eight years since my mid-twenties. Each successive breakdown was worse than the last and the last one, which I’ve just recovered from, was worse than anything I could ever have imagined and its effects lasted four years. At its worst I had constant brain fog, bouts of anxiety (prior to that I’d only ever suffered from depression), violent myoclonic jerks before while trying to get to sleep, erratic sleep patterns, a worrying escalation in my asthma and terrible forgetfulness (I’d walk out of a room and forget where I was going). The cause: not so much not knowing my limits but an unwillingness to be limited by them and a reluctance to let people down. So, like you, I’m also the frenetic subtype.

    Burnout I find is one of those words that people tend to chuck around like the flu. People say, “Oh, I’ve had a touch of the flu.” No they haven’t. I have had the flu once in my life and I was bedridden for a week with it. Likewise burnout, you don’t have a touch of burnout; it’s not something that a nice cup of coffee and five minutes with the Sunday Telegraph will cure. The problem is when you’re a workaholic not working is very hard. For me it was next to impossible. After about three months of sitting on the couch watching whatever-was-on-next-after-the-thing-I’d-just-watched I found I was lost so what did I do? I joined Wikipedia and rewrote all the entries for the plays of Samuel Beckett (Waiting for Godot took six weeks alone to research and write), and then I created a blog, and then I decided to self-publish my novels and before I could look around twice I was spending ten hours a day in front of a PC – seven days a week. I was actually working longer hours while sick than I was when I was supposedly healthy.

    One of the biggest drains on me these days in the Internet. It is a necessary evil but it is also a relentless beast. There is always someone awake somewhere in the world and so there are always new blog posts to read, and tweets and Facebook entries and e-mails and comments and although it seems as if other people are managing all of this and writing 1000 words a day, holding down a full-time job and looking after a family the odds are they are either not or, if they are, they’re heading for a breakdown of some sort. The only answer, the only answer I’ve found, is to set time limits and when it gets to x o’clock you stop. Knowing you only have a limited time you obviously have to do the important stuff first which is not usually the fun stuff and that requires some self control but let’s face it, if I’d had self control in the first place I’d never have ended up in the state I did. Self control is hard work.

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