woman with hands covering her face, stressed out

Burnout is common in every profession—not just writing—but for Indie Authors burnout can occur faster (in my opinion) because of the many hats we wear in our authorpreneurship. Everyday stresses can also add pressure and make you question your abilities. In this post, we’ll discuss what burnout is—signs/symptoms—how to avoid burnout and 10 tips to bouncing back from burnout if/when it occurs.

How To Recognize Burnout

Physical Signs

  • poor sleep habits
  • fatigue
  • headaches
  • sick feeling with no clear source.

Emotional Symptoms

  • hopeless feeling
  • irritable
  • depression
  • loss of passion
  • detachment/disengagement
  • lack of motivation
  • overwhelmed

Behavioral Signs

  • withdrawn
  • lack of concern
  • poor memory
  • alcohol/drug abuse

How and Why Burnout Occurs

  • work is too tedious/not challenging enough
  • no downtime
  • working too many hours
  • no support
  • perfectionism
  • not paid enough
  • unable to delegate/do everything on your own
pinterest pin showing the physical signs of burnout
How to Avoid Burnout: listen to your body, it’s your alarm clock

There are many reasons why burnout may occur. One such reason that is prevalent is having an overloaded to-do list—that myth that you have to ‘suffer’ for your art. I’m sure you’ve heard the term starving artist before and perhaps you may even think that, yeah, you need to pay your dues before you make it big. But this is absolutely not true! Sure, free publicity and exposure are good some of the time but don’t get into the habit of giving your hard work away for free.

The monotony of your writing can have you feeling in a rut as well. If you are writing the same type of thing day in and day out, your brain just may want to check out on you.

A huge proponent of burnout is taking on too much responsibility—whether intentional or not. Much like our eyes being ‘too big’ for our stomachs when it comes to eating, our brains can have us taking on too much—underestimating the amount of time and energy the responsibilities may take.

How to Avoid Burnout

Burnout may be inevitable for everyone, but avoiding burnout can be as simple as listening to your body. It’s your alarm clock.

  • organize writing space
  • don’t internalize criticism
  • mix things up with your writing
  • moderate exercise
  • change scenery
  • meditation
  • learn to say no
  • don’t write when sick or tired
  • communicate with your clients (if you have them)
  • eat healthy
  • sleep 6 or more hours per night
  • practice self-care
  • stop comparing yourself to others

Make sure you get enough sleep each night, eat healthy, and get some exercise. You don’t need a gym membership. Simply taking a walk around the block each day or dancing while you clean the house. Have a night each week where you pamper yourself: an at-home spa night works wonders for relaxing and resetting your brain to take on the next day’s challenges.

If your brain is always running a mile a minute, try some morning meditation and yoga to quiet your mind. Don’t internalize criticisms and absolutely stop comparing yourself to everyone else. If you write in the same space each day, try changing up the scenery a bit; write in a different location of your house, or even better, get outside in the fresh air and have a lovely outdoor writing session.

If you have clients, communicate with them clearly to avoid any misunderstandings and set up personal and professional boundaries. Learn to say NO when something isn’t right for you, or you don’t have the time or energy to do it.

10 Tips For Bouncing Back From Burnout

  1. Take stock of your obligations/situation
  2. Learn new things (boosts creativity)
  3. Take mini-breaks
  4. Establish a realistic schedule
  5. Explore other writing topics
  6. Listen to your body
  7. Set boundaries (both personal and professional)
  8. Take time off
  9. Online counseling/therapy
  10. Limit distractions

Take stock of your obligations/situation. What are the things you were doing previously that lead to your burnout? Analyze this and rearrange it so that you don’t go down that same path in the future.

Once you’ve analyzed what works for you and what doesn’t establish a realistic schedule. Don’t worry about what other writers are doing and how much they are putting out. Set a routine that is specific and realistic for you and your mental/physical health. Listen to your body to figure out when something is getting to be too much and don’t be too hard on yourself when that happens.

If need be, seek therapy or online counseling. There is no shame in needing someone to talk to, and trust me, from personal experience, talking things through with a licensed professional is super helpful. It is also helpful to talk to a friend or someone in your field who understands what you are going through. Make sure to have a support system in place no matter how small it is. Friends, family, counselors—just because you are an indie author does not mean you are alone.

Take A Deep Breath

Just like there are many things that lead to burnout, there are many ways to avoid it, or bounce back after it’s happened to you. Ultimately, you need to find what works for you. What works for me might not work for you, but I hope this article is able to help you in some way.

And remember, success looks different for everyone. This is a long game, babe. Take care of yourself!

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