No matter how exciting your career is, there are days when going to work just feels like a job.
You just can’t always be doing the exciting stuff.
I mean, sure Han Solo spends a lot of time chasing parsecs records and shielding Kylo’s lightsaber from the elements, but I’ll bet he sees his fair share of doldrums, too. You wouldn’t believe the paperwork involved in transporting hot goods and folks across the galaxy, and Wookie coats require a lot of upkeep.
It’s enough to make even the staunchest of ex-smugglers look for another line of work. Can you say, “warp-speed burnout”?
Writing Is a Job
And as a writer, even your highs are probably not quite on par with Han’s. If you’re like most, you get a spurt of adrenaline when you think of a new idea and when you start writing a new book or story, and probably another boost when you hit the “publish” button on your polished manuscript.
In between, though, you face a mind-numbing routine of *gasp* writing, editing, formatting, cover creation, promotion, and all the rest of the “grind” of being an author these days. And if writing is not your primary career, then you’re trying to wedge all of this into an already jam-packed life.
Whether you realize it or not, the meltdown is just over the horizon, next to that craggy tree where the witch built her lair.
Or, if not an outright meltdown, it’s a sure bet that your writing productivity is being sapped by the feeling of overwhelm that builds over time.
How do you avoid the wall?
Learn How to Back Off
That’s not an easy question to answer, but a good place to start is to acknowledge that you can’t do everything all the time and that you will never work as fast as you want to. We all need to back off once in a while, and building in downtime is important.
You can make that downtime more productive and feed your mind if you purposely engage in other activities rather than just shutting down completely. You may occasionally require an afternoon on the couch curled in the fetal position, but often just switching your focus can yield the relief you crave.
One perfect adjunct to your writing is physical activity. So much of our jobs (or hobbies) happens while we’re sitting on our rumps, that writers are inherently at risk of diseases related to a sedentary lifestyle: heart disease, diabetes, obesity, etc., etc., etc. Try to get in some exercise each day to combat both the physical maladies that our craft can engender AND the mental blahs that besiege all routine-doers from time to time.
Your Hobby Can Make You a Better Writer
Beyond movement, having hobbies outside of writing can be a boon both to your productivity and to your creativity. Traveling, for instance, will expose you to a wealth of new ideas that will almost surely find their way into your stories, one way or another. And engaging in another artsy activity — think painting, drawing, music, sculpture, dance — will encourage you to think in new ways and make new connections that you won’t see locked to your keyboard all day, every day.
Make no mistake — your most important responsibility as a writer is to sit down and actually write, day after day and year after year. But don’t beat your head against the wall of words that won’t come when a little cross-pollination of your activities can head off boatloads of frustration and make you a better writer in the long run.