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Welcome, everyone! Here's where I blather about writing, life with my wife BA, and my two basset hounds! I love to hear from readers, so comment here or email me!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Author Burnout

In this day and age, in order for an author to stay current, we must produce a lot of work. Not just writing books. We have to do blogs and Twitter and Facebook and Google Plus and Instagram and conventions and signings...

Yeah, you get the picture.

Now, I could complain, but I love my job, so here's how I combat the three major areas of Author Burnout. Writer's block, editing freakout, and social media fatigue.

Note: These are my cures. Feel free to comment and tell me yours!

Writer's block is something I rarely suffer from. I get stymied on one story, I just move on to another for a bit. Still, there are times when I really get myself in a bind, write myself into a corner and have to stop for a bit. That's when I pull out one of two tried and true techniques. One is to take a notebook (analog, folks. no tech here) and go to a coffee shop. Somehow going longhand and old school makes a different part of my brain kick in, and I often find I can get back on the horse. The other thing I try it just getting out of the house. No work, no notebook, nothing. Just turn the sound off on my phone and get going, out to dinner or to a museum or anything that gives me a new experience and people to watch. We forget how solitary we are sometimes, working alone at a keyboard. If you write romance, you have to see how people interact sometimes... Just go.

Editing freakout. OMG this is the one I am most guilty of, y'all. When you're a published author, you may have a book coming out in October, February and March and have them all in edits at the same time. Content edits, line edits, final line edits... It gets dizzying. Now, I thank God for my editors every day. I love that they make my books better. But after a pile of edits slashing through your prose, your characters, your plot, I start to take it personally. It's simply human nature. I begin to freak out. I troll Goodreads and Amazon obsessing over any bad reviews that prove I suck. It's a downward spiral.

This is when I step away from being an author for an hour. I read a book that is not mine. I call my brother because at this point my wife is either like "Let's kill them all!" or "Oh, would you shut UP". Sometimes I vaguebook, I admit, but that's always a bad idea.

What I find works the best is another creative hobby. This is why so many writers knit and crochet and color adult coloring books. I pick something quick, a project I can finish in a day, like a dishcloth. Boom Instant sense of accomplishment. Sometimes the editing process seems never ending, but a nice chunky yarn scarf? No one critiques that.

Finally, there's social media fatigue. Even though we all live in the electronic age, authors are essentially introverts. The constant pressure to stay in the public eye means we need to be out there writing blogs and doing tours, Facebook posts, Twitter, and a host of new social sites popping up means a writer can not only be utterly swamped, but it means I can waste a lot of time I should be writing surfing the Oatmeal or Grumpy Cat.

I know a lot of authors who cope with the inundation of social media by using a service like HootSuite to schedule their social media and do it all once a week.

I pass no judgement on this, but it doesn't work for me. I find spontaneity important in the little social details I share, and I like to post about 85% about something not my books so no one feels overwhelmed with promo. So what I do is schedule my days. I look at my author Facebook max 3 times a day. I may only post once, then read and like other people's posts, but I try hard to limit my surfing. I get free phone apps that help me post pictures to Twitter, Instgram and Tumblr. These apps, like Word Swag, help me create interesting content from regular phone pics. I pick a theme for the week. This week all my Pinterest pins for work relate back to a WIP about a spa owner who runs a GLBT friendly hotel. Just jotting down the theme for the week, the blog posts I need to make, and the places I need to touch each week on Sunday keeps me from feeling completely overwhelmed.

Please share any coping strategies you use with me!

XXOO Julia


Katherine Halle said...

Hmm, I don't have any tips but I'm definitely going to use yours for sure. I really like the idea of trying longhand AND the idea of trying some other creative outlet. Those are both great ideas.

I should also tweak my playlists, listening to music is often inspiring too, if I can find the right song.


Julia said...

Nods. BA uses playlists for everything. I don't have the patience for sorting songs and stuff.