M.H. Norris

Over the last few months, I’ve been pushing myself harder than I probably should. And I know I shouldn’t, but I do find myself doing it every so often. One time I did it resulted in what I now call the Great Meltdown of 2013 which resulted in my not writing for six weeks. I did come out of that burn out and wrote Notches so some good came out of it.

Last weekend, I had a free weekend and decided to use the opportunity to visit my aunt and uncle who live near the coast. That’s where today’s article picture comes from. That’s the Chesapeake Bay on Saturday. It was 70 and gorgeous and after we ate lunch, I took a walk for like an hour.

No, I didn’t get in. I just stuck my feet in, the water was FREEZING.

But I did not write one word the whole weekend. I unplugged a bit and had fun. Spent the afternoon on the beach, went to a comedy improv murder mystery show that night.

Let’s take a moment to discuss that.

It was funny seeing people make it up as they went and it took absolutely hilarious twists and turns the whole time.

Writers often times are writing on top of a day job, sometimes 2 jobs amongst other things. There are times where I just try and find a few minutes here and there to write. I’ll be honest with y’all, there are weeks that this column is the only thing I write.

But I feel so much better after taking those few days. As writers, we need to remember that you can’t pour from an empty pitcher (that was something I heard my aunt say the other day and it fits).

Another popular example that I use is that we are like sponges, we need to soak up something to pour it out into a writing. Far too often, I find myself like a dry sponge and I’m not at my best then.

So what can we do as writers to help keep us from burning out?

Ways to Help Stave Off Burn-Out

1) Read

Yes, I am going to  give you that cliche piece of advice. I recently had someone tell me to read outside of your field. Honestly, lately the only mysteries I read are Kathy Reichs’ and Andrew Cartmel’s work. I’ve gone through some Young Adult lately, biographies, a Christian Fiction series, some science fiction and fantasy and even fanfiction.

Read. Find something you love and spend time with it every day. Find something relevant to what you’re writing and read it. The other week I spent the afternoon reading a book for research for Rosella.

2) Get Away – Even for a day

I’m fortunate that where I live is within a few hours of a fair bit of fun things. I’ve spent days at Appomattox Courthouse National Park, I’ve spent many a day at the National Mall, or at a regular mall. I’ve spent time at the beach or at an amusement park riding as many roller coasters as I can.

If you can, do a day trip. Sometime a change in scenery might help you a great deal.

3) Make Time For You

This is one I struggle with on a daily basis. You cannot last long constantly working, constantly being on high alert because you may need to do something for your day job at any time. Every day, you need to make sure that you make time for you. Whether it’s reading in the morning or at night (I do both) or letting yourself play a game (I play Evony and occasionally you’ll find me on a console or computer playing a game – not to mention board games).

Take care of yourself; not just for you but for your writing.