I’ve been really struggling with the concept of burnout lately.
During the two years vaguely centered on the pandemic, I wrote four books, invented numerous weekend holidays to distract my kids, and burned myself out to the point of a serious health crisis.
And I still feel like writing another book is what will make me feel better, even though it is demonstrably NOT an effective way to make myself feel better.
I need to take a break, and it’s just so hard to let go and do that.
The idea that you should just keep writing, just write something new, just throw yourself into the next project… It’s so deep in the culture surrounding writers and writing today that it’s very, very hard to move away from it.
It doesn’t help that many of us come to writing in the first place because it DOES bring us joy.
But even something that brings you joy can wear you down if you drown yourself in it and only it. People do this with video games — playing to the exclusion of eating and resting.
Writing is my escape, my stability, my ability to make the world into something more livable for myself.
But it’s also something I pushed myself to do to the point where every time I tried to write I felt like crying… and then I went ahead and forced myself to write anyway.
It’s not healthy and it’s not sustainable to always try to push through. Sometimes pain is a warning that if you keep pushing, keep doing the same thing… you could do yourself real harm.
I’m still figuring out how to recover from that. And while I do… I -miss- writing.
Writing an 80k novel in 6 months is a lot of work, but it’s also a big high. A huge thrill. I got to immerse myself in The Entangled Universe for a full year, breathing it in every day. Then I spent a year living in the fantasy world of The Snake’s Song…
And I want to go back.
But right now, it’s healthier to immerse myself in Seanan McGuire’s fairy world in her October Daye books. It’s easier. It doesn’t keep pushing me further into burnout. But it’s also frustrating, because I remember writing hundreds of words every day… and I want that rush back.