Have you ever felt burnt out? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt that way. As an introvert it doesn’t take much to burn out. Sustained interaction with co-workers, family members and the general public day in and day out can drain us out. Add that to the grind of everyday life and responsibilities (family and secular) can leave you with very little energy for yourself or the things you enjoy the most. Most people including writers are not immune to the pressures of life. Every now and then you need to recharge your batteries.
What is recharging?
What comes to your mind when you think of recharging? For some they may think of their phone or some other device that you plug up to a power source to extend the battery life. However recharging can mean different things depending on who you ask. For many it means getting away from the hustle and bustle of life and taking time for oneself. Recharging could entail anything from listening to music, reading a good book, hanging out on the beach, or sleeping!
Going back to the illustration of the cellphone, if you don’t recharge your phone, it will eventually shut down and become unusable. While humans don’t run on batteries we do have physical, emotional, mental limitations. While stress is not necessarily a bad thing too much of it for long periods of time can damage one’s mental and physical wellbeing to a critical level where you can’t function anymore.
While the thought of near mental breakdown may sound exaggerated the warning is still very pertinent to all of us in particular writers. As writers we wear many hats. Most of us still have to support ourselves with a “regular” job. And if you’re a published writer, especially “self-published” you’re not only the writer but the “copywriter,” the “editor,” and “marketer.” And if you’re feeling very ambitious you’re also the “cover designer” and “formatter” on top of that! Or you may have other writing gigs (i.e. blogging) where you’re expected to put out new content every week or even daily. Regardless, the time and energy involved in such projects can be taxing after awhile. While we may not physically die, our passion for writing could die. Soon the very thing we enjoyed doing becomes a burden!
This post is not meant to discourage anyone from being a writer. Nor is it my intent to tell anyone to take things easy and success will fall in your lap. Oftentimes to get results we have to put in the work. After all if I took the easy route I would have never published in the first place! What I am saying is that with all things in life we need to be balanced. We wouldn’t want to needlessly sacrifice our personal relationships or responsibilities at the expense of trying to make it at the top of some bestseller’s list. Writing is not the easiest endeavor to make money. But I think when we start comparing ourselves to more successful writers, worrying about profits, sales rank, getting more reviews and churning out more books that we think others want to read we can quickly lose our inspiration and joy for writing.
When we find ourselves losing sleep or even losing our motivation we need to realize it’s perfectly OK to take a break at times. That could mean a lot of different things to different people. It could mean slowing down your efforts for a day or even taking an indefinite break altogether. However long the length of time, it’s important to reconnect to the things that bring you peace and joy.
Just like we wouldn’t wait till our phone is near 1% to charge it, similarly we recognize the value in recharging our batteries on a more regular basis. It’s important to allow yourself the time and space at least once a week if not once a day for some downtime. You don’t have to be doing much of anything. That’s OK too. Speaking from personal experience after having a busy day at work, having time where I’m doing little to nothing can be very relaxing because I can unravel from the stressors of the day and reconnect with my thoughts. It’s the simple things in life that help me feel grounded, calm, and ready to take on the next day.
Just like a newly charged phone, you are of more use to those around you. As a writer there are some unique benefits to recharging that will not only help your personal wellbeing but also have a positive effect on your writing. This includes but not limited to:
- Overcoming writer’s block
- Regaining our joy for writing
Let’s examine the first point. If we find ourselves in a rut or in a mental block, sometimes taking a break from your writing can help you get unstuck. When I’m not overthinking things and just enjoying the moment, I find that inspiration comes more organically. Whether you’re listening to music, taking in the sights of nature or vacationing with family and friends, inspiration may strike at unexpected times, triggering your creative juices to flow. With new ideas from the sights and experiences you surround yourself with, you can finally finish that half-written draft or start something entirely new.
Secondly recharging can help you regain your joy. Time spent away from your writing could help you gain some mental clarity and reexamine the “what” and “why” behind your writing. When our writing is treated less as a chore and more as a hobby we will likely rekindle the joy we may have lost.
So there’s your reasons to give yourself permission to recharge when needed. I know I needed a recharge which is why taking a trip overseas proved to be beneficial. not to mention fun! Even though I can’t afford to vacation every time life gets hectic or mundane, I still carve some “me” time throughout my week. So go ahead pursue what you enjoy doing without going overboard. And remember it’s OK to relax.
Question to readers: How do you recharge?