Tricks to Recovering From Writer’s Burn Out

First, I want to define burn out for those who are new to the discussion. It is that point when you are tired, when have no interest in your work and future work only seems to make it worse, and when doing your work becomes harder and harder to do until you don’t even want to see it again. Burn out is like any virus, once you contract it, it can become dilapidating and if not treated, difficult to recover from.

There are a few tricks I’ve learned over the years to keep myself from catching writer burn out and recover from it when I don’t catch it in time. They might require some fundamental changes to your routine depending on your life.

9 Tricks to Help Recover from Writer Burn Out

1) Take a vacation. This one is my favorites, but this one doesn’t mean that you have to leave the state, go camping, or plan an elaborate retreat. It just means that you step away from your work. You can go somewhere else, go to a café with a friend, take your kids to the park, be lazy, get some house or yard work finished, watch a movie/TV/Anime, walk around, relax, take a drive, and/or read a book. Sometimes just a change of scenery can make all the difference.

2) Take care of yourself. This is one I need to work on. There are never enough hours in my day, and I’m constantly going from one project to another without stopping to breathe. I’m learning that I have to take care of myself and my talent, I’m healthier physically and emotionally, which makes me better able to be cope with stress, be happy, and less likely to burn out. Sometimes taking care of ourselves just means taking a step away and relaxing.

3) Accept Failure. Not only is no one perfect, but what fun is perfection. Failure is where you learn and grow. It is the stick by which you can judge your progress. And one person’s failure, can be another person’s success…or at least the path to success.

4) Join a support group or Find a Writing Partner. For more information look up support groups or read my article on Writing Partners at

5) Be careful of criticism. We need to learn to handle criticism as writers, however, during the creative process you don’t need a critic sitting on your shoulder. Let your creativity have free reign at the beginning stages and criticism at the later stages, once you have revised and edited your work. Another tip, give your work to someone you can trust to give you an honest opinion and constructive criticism.

6) Find your balance. Don’t overload yourself with too much work. Take a break. Explore new venues. Change topics, scenes, and even genres. Spend time with your family. Whatever you need to do to find balance in your life and your writing. Even if that means taking a little more time to write.

7) Explore your reasons. Writer’s burn out for a reason, figure out why it happened to you. Every situation is different. Try to identify the problems and work to improve them. A good way to do this is through guided journaling or free-writing. Figure out what matters to you and how to get it. Remember, writing about problems is a different process than talking it out or thinking about them.

8) What’s your motivation? Are you an extrinsic motivator or intrinsic motivator? If you are an extrinsic motivator, then you are motivated by things that come outside of yourself, deadlines, other people’s evaluations of your writing, or the need to pay the electric bill. However, if you are a intrinsic motivator, then you are motivated by things inside you, challenges you make for yourself, self-made deadlines, finding pleasure in your work.

9) Change it up. The best way I’ve found to overcome writer’s burn out is to write something just for you. Trying different forms of writing.

Creative people hit the point eventually where they feel tired and can’t find any interest in their work. If you have experienced writer’s burn out and wish to add anything, please comment. What are some ways you have employed to recover from burn out? Or keep yourself from falling victim to burn out?

5 thoughts on “Tricks to Recovering From Writer’s Burn Out

  1. Ruth Ann Nordin July 31, 2010 / 5:59 am

    I recently discovered the beauty of writing a spoof. It allowed me to be creative without worrying about the fact that I’d have to edit and revise it later on. I also found it good for a laugh.

    Today I discovered that writing the wrong genre was burning me out. You’d think if you’re the one writing it, it would fuel your passion, but it really does depend on whether or not you’re passionate about the subject.

    I admit that taking a vacation and cleaning the house seems to be contradictory, but you know, after I clean up the house, I usually do felt more rested. And that is a very strange thing.

    • Stephannie Beman July 31, 2010 / 2:32 pm

      Are you enjoying that spoof? Is it helping you relax? lol

      I’m the same way, if I get stuck or can’t think of anything to write, I do housework. It gets my brain working. It can also relax me after a long session of writing and quite my mind.

      • Joleene Naylor August 1, 2010 / 11:49 am

        I hear that a lot, but housework usually just aggravates me – unless the house is a real mess, so that you can really *see* the difference, and then it will because I feel I’ve accomplished something. But, if it’s not immediately evident what’s been cleaned, I just feel like I wasted my time. Insane, I know.

        I find a long shower to be a great little “rest”. Most of my best “fixes” or ideas have come to me while taking a shower. I think it’s because there’s nothing else to concentrate on or distract you (except bathing, but how much concentration does that take?)

        An excellent post with some great ideas, Stephannie!

  2. Stephannie Beman August 4, 2010 / 10:31 pm

    I don’t know how many times I’ve gotten ideas while in the shower. It not only cleans the body it clears the mind.

    • tonyarice September 4, 2012 / 4:44 pm

      Same here… never fails! I need waterproof pen and paper!

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