Burn it Down: A WriYe Blog Topic

I am very behind with these blog topics. Truthfully though I have been avoiding June’s which is “Some of your strategies to avoid burnout” because what strategies? It feels like I live in a permanent state of burnout a lot of the time. Beyond going “yeah that’s me” I don’t feel like I have much to say on this topic.

But then again because I feel so familiar with it maybe I do have something to offer. I know what I do wrong after all, even if I am incapable a lot of the time of not making the same mistakes over and over.

Tip #1 – Don’t try to run before you can walk

I am impatient. I want to be done. It looks like it should be possible for me to do X amount in Y time and yeah maybe it is – but consistently every single day? I have one good day, decide that’s my metric of what I am capable of and that I should be able to do it all days. Learn from me – that doesn’t work!

The mind is a muscle and it takes time to build habits and form ’thinking grooves’. Jumping from 0-60 in no time isn’t sustainable or possible. So to avoid burnout and catastrophic failure take it slow, build over time, and halve whatever you think you can do to make it more likely it’s actually possible.

Tip #2 – Pressure is counter-productive

I was saying once how frustrated I was that I wasn’t focusing and I didn’t understand why. I was desperate for some help, and the comment was ”if you actually wanted it, you would do it, so you don’t want it enough” and I was incredibly upset by this. That wasn’t true. I’ve brooded on that comment a lot and I actually came to believe the opposite was true – I wanted it too much. I was having panic attacks everytime I opened my writing files because I kept telling myself I need writing to work out, I need to be able to earn money. Which just led to utter terror of never being good enough, complete paralysis, so surprise surprise no actual writing. Not doing it made me angry and upset with myself, which just made it worse.

This is a tricky one because I can’t make it any less true, so how then do I relieve the pressure? I’m not entirely sure. I have tried logic which is ”if I terrify myself and don’t do it, then I have nothing anyway so I might as well try, even if I feel like I’ll never be good enough”. That is having limited success. It’s a daily battle that fear to be honest and the pressure of needing/wanting it so much, is really what fed the beast. So learn from my mistake and try not to pile the pressure on in the first place. Keep it chill and lowkey as much as you can. You’ll get a lot more done that way.

Tip #3 – Beware busywork and unnecessary tasks/limits/restrictions

I love 4thewords. I love the WriYe challenges. I wanted to keep a proper streak by writing everyday. I wanted a ’perfect score’ on the badges. But those things required writing – drafting! – every single day. I remember back in March I decided I wanted to do some writing courses but I couldn’t let go of these streaks/challenges, and so I had to keep up with writing at the same time. But as I wasn’t prepared for an original project I had to keep writing fanfic ’for my streak’ and the whole enterprise was doomed to failure.

Challenges and streaks are supposed to be tools that help/encourage. It is hard to let go of these things once I have decided to do them, but they are hurting me at this point. I had a bunch of other tasks/goals like finishing my TV watchlist, making fandom gifsets, reading my magazine stash etc. Those tasks were on my to do list and I felt like I should do them, as I figured if I didn’t make time they wouldn’t get done. That’s very true but were the tasks necessary in the first place?

I come up with rules about what has to be done before other things. I don’t realise I’m doing it a lot of the time, it just feels like that’s the way it is, but I’m making myself jump through hoops. It makes tasks much harder than they need to be, and it adds a lot more tasks and stress to my schedule. That obvious has a knock-on effect on everything and then I grind to a halt – hello burnout. So the tip is to look at what you are doing and why. Ask whether it’s necessary, ask whether it’s serving you, ask whether it’s time to let it go.

Good luck! Productivity is the monster that we quest to slay everyday and it’s never an easy fight.