When I was all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in 2014, I planned a crazy busy year for 2015. I envisioned myself breezing through the final touches on my house in Virginia, selling it without a problem, wafting to conventions all over the country, making tons of money and…do you see where I am going with this?
Like a moron, I completely overscheduled myself for the first half of 2015. I attended six comic book conventions in eight weeks. All which required me to drive/fly/train it somewhere far away. In the middle of finishing and selling the house, I might add, and selling everything I owned in preparation for a cross-country move.
And oh yeah, I was trying to write Conviction during that time period.
It should come as no surprise to you that I did not finish Conviction until three months after the original due (to me) date. And for a while there, I really didn’t love this book. It was a chore and I dreaded working on it.
But it wasn’t that I hated Conviction, I was just brain tired. And because I was brain tired, I didn’t have the mental clarity to choreograph the mental gymnastics that Lyssa goes through (and she definitely goes through some gymnastics).
When I get burned out, I go through this back and forth of “I have to work but I don’t want to work.” Compounded on that the lack of book love on twitter and the occasional troll, and before I know it, I’m panic attack central.
Combat the Burn
With Conviction, I got myself through it by focusing on small, measurable goals every day. I use Omni-Focus to track all of my daily tasks. So what I’ll do is add a task for 1,000 words and set it to reoccur M-F every week. At least then, when I knock out some measure of words, I’ll be able to check off that task and say that I’ve made progress, even if I really haven’t. I don’t set the task to run on the weekends because that’s my play time. And sometimes, without the pressure of a task over my head, I’ll get even more done on the weekends.
The other thing I do is try to take breaks from writing. I just finished Fusion, the fourth Razia book, and it’s in the beta’s hands right now. But I haven’t started on Beginnings (#5) or the second Madion book yet, forcing myself to step away from both storylines. Sometimes I’ll focus on a play-story, one that’s either not on the schedule or is so far out that there’s no real need to work on it right now. But sometimes when no words are coming at all, it’s break-time.
What’s your method to combat burn-out?