Writer Burnout: How to Avoid It

All work, all the time - it really takes its toll on you.  People new to the freelance writing business are expecially prone to writer burnout because they've got bills to pay and have often given up a steady paycheck.

You can recognize the signs of writer burnout before it actually hits:

  • dread about writing
  • excessive stress about making enough to pay the bills
  • crabbiness at interruptions during writing
  • general frustration
  • you're easily distracted from writing

Being a full-time freelance writer means we often face deadlines, pressure to make more and more money and - most of us - work from home.  At home, sometimes you're distracted and you don't even realize it.  The dishes need to be done, the bed needs to be made and someone's watching t.v. in the next room.

Writer Burnout May Stem from Working at Home

Freelance writers' work can't be left behind at the office after a 10-hour shift.  When I was in the Army, I'd come home from work and forget all about what I'd done that day - I didn't have to worry about it until the next morning.  As a freelance writer, I'm constantly thinking I should be working when I'm at home.

This. Causes. Burnout.

Writer burnout ruins your productivity.  You're not producing your best work, and as a result, you're not making the right amount of money.

That means you have to do more work to make the same amount of money, which also means you're going to be further victimized by writer burnout.

You have to avoid writer burnout if you want your freelance writing career to not only make it through the week, but grow and become more profitable, too.


How do you avoid writer burnout?

You have to avoid writer burnout if you want your freelance writing career to survive (although you can bounce back once you're already burned out).

  • Avoid writer burnout by taking at least one day off.  You're not a machine, and even the crappiest jobs give workers a day off.
  • Avoid writer burnout by limiting your daily work hours.  I know, deadlines are different - but working 70 hours a week may be hurting more than helping.
  • Avoid writer burnout by varying your projects.  Some clients want 25 articles on the same topic; that's fine, but switch gears every once in a while.  After writing 2 or 3 on the same topic, work on your blog or create a new ad to market your freelance writing business.
  • Avoid writer burnout by taking a lunch break.  A real lunch break - not eating your frozen burrito with one hand while typing with the other.
  • Avoid writer burnout by turning down clients you don't want to work with.  When you're writing stuff you could really care less about - and you're writing a ton of it - you're not going to give it your best; you're going to get frustrated and become distracted by the fact you wish you were writing something else.
  • Avoid writer burnout by dumping clients you consider dead weight.  This doesn't mean you act unprofessionally - but sometimes a particular client drags you down and almost causes your freelance writing business to drown.

If you're already burned out, don't worry - you can bounce back.  Writer burnout gets to all of us - even when we try our best to avoid it.  Take a few days off, have a couple of margaritas and try to remember why you started freelance writing in the first place.

What do you do to avoid freelance writer burnout?  Have you been burned out before - and if you have, how did you bounce back?

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© Angie Papple Johnston, 2010; if you are reading this anywhere but on FreeFreelanceWritingTips.Blogspot.com, it's stolen.

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Freelance Writing Tips by Angie Papple Johnston is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Based on a work at freefreelancewritingtips.blogspot.com.

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