7 Unconventional Moves That Rescue Writers from Burnout

7 Unconventional Moves That Rescue Writers from Burnout

Offbeat ways but not impractical to adopt in your life.

It was shocking to see writers around me drop out like recruits at a boot camp.

I had to do something fast to prevent the same fate.

The writing platforms I published on were not too many. But peer pressure was immense.

  • X days left in this year, don’t you want to end the year with a bang?
  • I am publishing 1000 words every day, what is your plan?
  • I’ve lined up all my posts till New Years, now I can chill.

The worst part was not the pressure but that I was letting it get to me.

I tried the usual suspects — cut down assignments, shut off notifications, used productivity techniques, and meditated every day. The fear of burnout just would not leave me. I needed to find techniques that worked for me.

Doing the ‘finding’ was my first act toward rescuing my writing from a dead end.

After reading different ideas and trying, here are the strategies I adopted. They may seem a bit offbeat or even counterintuitive but there’s no harm in giving them a go.

The best part was there was no downside to them.

1. Carve that spoon

Take a break from writing by indulging in different creative outlets — say, painting, pottery, or even woodworking.

I took up spoon carving. It occupied me for hours, keeping me in a flow state I never imagined. My dad had to remind me to eat.

This was better than meditating I realized.

Engaging in multiple creative activities or even trying out a few to see what you like exercises different parts of your brain. It beats monotony into a pulp.

As I carved, I thought of nothing else but the next move with my carving knife. Lost of focus would mean a badly cut finger.

Deep Focus gave me a collection of 13 spoons in a year. Until I counted, I had no idea I had carved my way to that number.

I also have several wasted blocks of wood that’ll never become spoons. It is the same with writing. Try new topics even if you don’t publish them.

Time spent researching, and outlining them is the practice you need for the more important work that you will actually publish.

Set the stage to succeed. Carve that spoon.

2. Catch the Zzzzs

A nap is my third favorite thing to do. I can catch a wink sitting down, on bus rides, on rest stops, and also when the conversations around get boring.

Short naps are known to boost cognitive function, memory, and creativity.

I decided to rearrange my day routine around my workouts and naps instead of my writing. Here is how it went:

  1. Wake up
  2. Workout
  3. Short nap
  4. Big Breakfast
  5. Write/Research
  6. Grocery run /similar— short walk
  7. Write/Research
  8. Late meal
  9. Spoon carving /work with hands till sundown
  10. Unwinding nap
  11. Light night snack, if required.
  12. Optional TV or read for pleasure
  13. Sleep

I have purposely not included the duration and exact times. Those I leave to you depending on when you wake up.

Also, I am a two meals a day person, so the naps are always before a meal.

Nap breaks were about 15–20 min long. Just enough. My brain was active during the nap but that little rest was refreshing enough to get to the next thing.

Also, it did not affect my sleep. (Can you tell I love it? :-))

Writing occupied a major chunk of my day. Yet there was enough left for my woodwork.

It resulted in intense carving sessions rivaling my focus during writing.

Napping strategically recharges your creative batteries. It gives your heated brain respite from intense work.

3. Clutter sparks creativity

My friends think I am an organized person. In my previous life I was used to designing processes to bring structure and efficiency in our work.

I never realized that constant organization and tidying can be a strain. Headline sorted, articles lined up, posts scheduled, what if I miss one!? Shudder.

Discipline is fine. This was rigidity I was imposing on myself.

One day I shut up my organizer brain and let a chaotic version take over.

I opened my desk drawer and took out everything. And instead of trying to arrange it better than it was like I would typically, I just went through the contents, one by one.

Some triggered new additions to a to-do list, others jogged a few fond memories. I finally found that bookmark I was looking for.

Some new dots connected, ideas taking shape.

Taking a break from a pristine space can reduce mental rigidity. You can even find inspiration in the middle of clutter.

4. To do or not to do

I get it. Writing is tough and a lonely activity. Add to it how demoralized you feel about taking it up. It’s a bad combination.

You put it off. Then some more. And months pass you by.

My friend wanted to help to assemble her jewellery sets. It was a repetitive task. Take a hook, pass it the ring, attached that to the hoops or another earpiece, and pinch the ends together with a wire clamp. As simple as that.

Choosing to avoid staring at a blank page, I took it up.

It was such a low-pressure activity that I could feel my mind relax and then wander. My hands and eyes coordinated the assembly while my mind brewed ideas.

Why did I not do this before?

Try short breaks for zero intensity activities and let your mind do its work unconsciously.

5. Feel it, write it.

In 2008 I summited a peak that I had my eyes on for long. I trained hard and sacrificed several things along the way to get there. Standing on the peak felt surreal and grounding at the same time.

As soon as I was back at base camp, I left everything and recorded how I felt.

Feelings are fleeting things. I had to record them before they disappeared.

Those notes have been a topic of at least 7–8 short and long posts each, over time.

Participate in sensory experiences that evoke feelings. Focus on anything positive but avoid the extreme kind.

Immersing yourself in an experience — specific scents, moving music, or elevating environments — can trigger fond memories and prompt you to record what you are feeling.

Those memories are best relived through your writing. Wording a post about a favourite person, pet or experience never fails to get the creative flow going.

It is natural, it comes from within.

6. Helping them helps you

Helping someone out of their rut or challenge is a great way to break out of your own.

When you achieve a little bit of traction on social platforms, people reach out for help. This is a good thing, your words are getting engagement.

Make it easy for people to reach out and ask. The more you help, you realize the more you are being helped.

I have had calls with 2–3 X profiles I follow and regularly engage with. We had no agenda but to speak about our journey and help each other.

That took pressure off. We came together with open minds with the intent to help. Just 2–3 conversations have sparked so many insights.

And you realize you are not in this alone.

7. Spread Cheer

Kindness isn’t clickbait.

Charity work, volunteering, and helping out periodically, are all ways to make a treasure trove of memories.

Everyone I know has a kindness story of times when their actions changed someone’s life. And how the kindness came back full circle through someone else entirely.

Looking at people struggle with the basics — food, shelter, safety —puts your own struggles in a different light.

I hated it when my parents gave me an example of starving street kids when I would not finish my meal as a child. Now I know better.

This is not to belittle the challenge you face. It simply shows you a different way to look at it so that it seems less daunting than before.

These unconventional strategies break the mold, encouraging writers to explore till they get their mojo back.

Burnout is real and it can get ugly if left to fester.

Sometimes, it’s the unconventional paths that lead to the most surprising and fruitful destinations!

Let me know if you try any and how it went, will you?

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