Overcoming My Writer Burnout

How stepping back helped me to find my voice again

I have always been a very passionate person. So when I put my mind to something, I usually run with it until it dies.

Last month I made a deal that I would write two pieces a day. I underestimated the amount of time I had to work. I underestimated the amount of time I would be able to get away from my family obligations and being a spouse and all the things.

I write 5–6 days a week. My goal is to publish a piece each of those days. Sometimes more. Sometimes less. Lately it has been less. Much less.

I stopped getting published by publications

Previously I was being published in several publications. Every piece I wrote would be accepted, curated, and well read. You know, all the things we use to measure our success here on Medium.

Then as February closed out, that changed. Publications were not accepting my pieces, like at all. I started getting curated much less. I struggled to find my own voice again. I struggled to accept this change.

It also happened that I had some big projects happening on the home front so that gave me an excuse to take a step back and see what I needed to adjust to change this negative momentum.

I realized, in part I was pushing myself too hard. I expected too much of myself too soon. My craft was not ready for the push I was giving myself and my family was not ready to have me gone that often.

I was struggling to get a fresh look at my writing

It takes hours a day to write, edit, revise , and publish a piece of high quality work. Hours a day I don’t often have. So for a while my work struggled. It was generic. Sometimes too vulnerable. Sometimes not enough.

The editing was lacking and so things were not as polished as they needed to be. I needed to slow down.

I wanted to make sure that if I was putting my name behind something, it would be something I could be proud of.

I needed to find a new routine that would let me get space in between my writing and my editing. To allow the piece to settle and then come back with new eyes to re-read it.

In short I was fizzling

Many times we something that works, a template or a procedure, and we run with that over and over. It becomes monotonous and we forget how to be our authentic selves.

This is true in writing, in life, in parenting. We forget to remember that life is messy and there is no blue print for any of it. What worked yesterday may not work tomorrow. This lesson I learned clearly as a mother. I needed to learn it as a writer too.

Writing is my passion. Putting the words together and creating meaningful ideas and expressing myself in language brings me joy and excitement. This has been true since I was a small girl, but for a bit, it started to feel like drudgery.

I was no longer excited to sit in front of the screen and the words were not flowing. I was becoming stagnant and no one reads stagnant. No one is moved by stagnant. Stagnant waters don’t move at all. They often poison and leave a sour taste.

I have slowed down my pace

I slowed my pace a lot. Instead of publishing 5–6 pieces a week I am sitting at 2–3. This has resulted in a drop in my stats, for now. But as I continue to publish, I see a steady increase in the number of followers and responses to my pieces.

The slow down is to be expected. While I struggle not to allow it to get in my head, I know that in the long run this is what will ultimately bring me to the goal I want, more readers and continued joy in writing.

This slow down has allowed me to take a step back and see what I was doing that I needed to change. It allowed me to live a life worth writing about. If my life is sitting for hours in front of a computer, there is no life worth commenting on.

I took the time to let ideas come and go. I took the time to be present in my own life. I even stepped back from my constant Instagram posts. I didn’t need to document everything, I didn’t need to write every thought and half thought that entered in my head.

Slowing down has allowed me to have a higher quality of writing, even though it is a lesser quantity. But the old adage, quality over quantity, could not be more relevant. I don’t want to have a hundred subpar pieces a month. I would much rather have 20 great pieces a month.

I found myself in a stagnant place

I have been writing for years and I was just spinning my wheels for awhile.

When I say step back I mean I didn’t quit. Don’t quit. In the last month and a half I have written some of my most read pieces of all times. I kept moving forward, but it was time to re-evaluate my strategy. That is what has helped me.

I stepping away for a little helped me to have a new perspective. I had to stop being so attached to my outcomes and love the writing process again. It meant letting go of that side of me that longed to see numbers go up and up and up and just write for the joy of writing.

It meant that I had to be ok with whatever was happening and not focused so much on only my goals. While it is good to have goals, they cannot be the driving force. When you are only writing for your goals, the passion seems to dissipate. It is almost an inverse relationship after a certain point.

I needed to find my passion again

Taking this step back has taught me how to look for my voice. To find the things I am passionate about and write about that.

I don’t want to write just to write unless someone is paying me a lot of money, up front. There just isn’t a reason to push myself for a piece that is only mediocre and has subject matter I don’t really care about.

Writing for the numbers doesn’t feel authentic. If there is one word I can define myself by it is authenticity. I have an inner drive to be authentic. I cannot fake who I am and what I stand for. I cannot be fake.

Writing for things I don’t care about doesn’t feel authentic. Forcing word after word to make sense in sentences that don’t flow well just doesn’t serve me. It doesn’t serve my readers. And really, I appreciate my readers too much to do that to you.

Wife. Mother. Follower of Messiah. Health Advocate. Lover of the journey of life.

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