Can You Help This Freelance Writer Recover from Burnout?

I spend a lot of time on this blog helping writers figure out how to find more and better clients.

Today, let’s look at a problem on the other side of the spectrum.

One writer recently emailed me with her tale of woe — she is overloaded with work and falling out of love with writing:

“How do you handle extreme burnout in freelance writing? I am going through that now and am floundering with my writing. My quality of writing has gone way down. I have been fighting this with a purple passion, but my work is suffering.

“Another problem is that I lost my major client last Friday due to the economy and my boss’s subsequent layoff. I am so turned around I don’t know what to do. Any advice would clearly be appreciated. I don’t want to leave my writing, but I am so burned out that I am not providing quality work.”–Teresa

This is definitely a bad situation. Makes me wonder whether that layoff was really because of “the economy,” because we all know what happens when you’re burned out.

You get fired from some of your better gigs. Suddenly, instead of burnout being the worry, it’s starvation.

It’s become a tradition for me to throw at least one holiday-time mailbag question to my great readers to answer, so I’m turning this one over to you. I can’t wait to see your tips!

Can you help this writer avoid burnout? Leave your advice in the comments.

P.S. Congrats to Becca, who won a free ticket to the upcoming Freelance Writers Den bootcamp, How to Use Social Media to Get Freelance Gigs. Get details on this training by clicking below:

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40 comments on “Can You Help This Freelance Writer Recover from Burnout?
  1. Sounds like the problem is two-fold: She’s overcommitting and not taking enough time to rest and recharge. I just read Laura Vanderkam’s book, What the Most Successful People Do on the Weekends, and it really made a lot of sense. She suggested things like a 24-hour break from technology and interspersing work with personally fulfilling activities, like a hike through nature. I think this reader needs to step back for a day or two and just recharge. Because she won’t be able to fix any problems until she feels more like her normal self. Then, once she’s recharged, she needs to sit and figure out what her next step is. Does she reach out to whoever is replacing her former boss at that major client? Did she even like what she was writing for them? Or should she reach out to new potential clients? Is the answer starting a blog on a topic she’s passionate about and building a platform that could be the subject of later ebooks? Well, that’s my best advice. Hopefully she can take some time to herself and bounce right back!

  2. Sandra says:

    I think it’s OK to reach out to the former client. Find out who’s in charge, introduce herself and let them know that she’s available. She can also reach out to her former “boss” to see where he’s headed.

    Re: burnout – take a few days off. If she can afford to and has a solid emergency fund, take a block of time off and only take the projects she wants while slowly cutting off the lower paying gigs. This way, she stays visible without losing her mind.
    Sandra recently posted..Get Your Butt in Gear for 2013

  3. Neil Heater says:

    Hi Teresa

    I am still new in the period of freelance writing, but I understand the burnout feeling. I look at this two-ways because have been there in other arenas.
    One…where is your first love? What made you head this way and go the freelance route? what about it broke the ground early on to excite you about what you were doing? Sometimes we need to get back to basics and remember that passion without remembering can fizzle. Try to focus on where your head and heart were when you began this foray into the freelance realm.
    Secondly…I am a person of faith so I committed it to God early on. Where is your place of power or prayer? Can you go there and find that spiritual help? Each one of us gain the inspiration in different ways. Find your Ebenezer (Jewish marker of remembrance) of your inspiration and re-focus your intent and motivation.
    Oftentimes all it takes is remembering…and re-igniting.

    Neil

  4. I suffered from this problem myself just a few months ago. I would say: Just take the time. Pare down to your barest expenses, do the minimum it takes to meet those expenses, and get the rest that you need. It might be time to launch something that YOU want to do, whether it’s a blog or a new novel. A month or so on light duty might be all that it takes.
    Carmen Rane Hudson recently posted..Comment on Home by designer accessories

  5. Cindi says:

    These suggestions sound helpful and I hope they help. I would add the following: get involved with activities and people you enjoy, both writing and otherwise. Writing is a solitary pursuit and humans are social. My writing and my health both suffer when I allow writing to take over my life. Conversely, when I allow time for other pursuits, my writing flourishes. A spiritual practice, like meditation or prayer, in addition to regular exercise are also helpful.

  6. Tracy says:

    I agree with Rosella that this writer needs to give herself a break. When you are swamped it is so hard to see the forest for the trees. I went through a similar situation a few years back and thought maybe writing wasn’t for me anymore. I took a job at a charity and then went into the travel business (which I am still in) but guess what? I wrote at the charity and now I do travel writing. So it appears for me, once a writer, always a writer! Maybe losing her client is a blessing, a little more time to clear her head and figure out how she might change things up a little. Maybe she can start a blog or look for different types of writing projects, or perhaps write an article on dealing with writer burnout? :)

  7. Lin Young says:

    I have had this problem in the past myself, and actually am struggling with it right now. I have found that if I’m happy and everything in my life is going well that I am much less likely to suffer from burnout. But I can work through periods of burnout if I can put myself on auto-pilot. That means I need to spend time reading across genres, particularly reading things that aren’t related to anything that I’m writing. When you are burned out you have trouble finding words, you just can’t think of the words to phrase things quickly. That causes you to spend more time on writing anything, which feeds your burnout because you can’t get anything done. Reading a broad range of things helps me see different ways of phrasing things. Sometimes taking a walk around the block helps. It also helps to go to a party or somewhere where people are congregating and talk to people. And going to a play or movie helps too.

  8. I understand exactly how you feel! Last April, I lost my largest client overnight. The entire company shut down because of the Google Panda update. As my income dropped from $3,000 a month to nothing, I was devastated and wondered if writing was going to be the answer. My friend stepped up and helped me see that it’s all about writing what you love. If you’re not enjoying it and having fun, you’re not going to do a good job and burnout is inevitable. Find the topic you love the most and work with that team or client. Be patient with yourself and give your mind time to bounce back from the bummer of a situation. You will recover and write with a passion again if you write about what you love the most. Here’s to your very successful future!
    Valerie Strawmier recently posted..Resolutions & Change: Lessons I Learned in 2012

  9. Cynthia Rosi says:

    We are like pitchers, filled with an amount of energy for each day. It’s so important to replenish and nourish ourselves in between tasks. Two techniques to combat stress are to make a poster with all the past year’s accomplishments, to review often as you look up from your work. Another is to stop during the day, and acknowledge what you’re grateful for.

    I have more techniques in my blog http://www.simplynurtureyourself.com, a calm, marketing-free space I started after I went through burnout.
    Cynthia Rosi recently posted..Does Forgiveness Mean You’ll Get Hurt Again?

  10. Jo Sparkes says:

    The Burnout Problem

    For me, Burnout means I’m spending too much time doing what I don’t want to do, and resenting it. My mind keeps trying to force the issue – “this is the only way I’ll eat”, or “but I’ve worked so hard to live this dream.”

    Obviously, there are other ways to eat. And if it’s my dream, why am I resisting it?

    Tell your mind to chill for a moment, and talk to your heart.

    First, are you trying to do too much? Taking on anything out of fear of starving? Is it time to raise your rates – so you can work less and still eat steak?

    Second, reconnect with your passion. Maybe you want to write fiction, not medical journals. Give yourself permission to write that fiction, even while honoring your paying commitments. Structure your life to suit you, don’t become a slave to it.

    Third – and this one’s very important – are you clinging to an old ‘dream’ that no longer serves you? Maybe now that you’ve achieved it, the dream of being paid to write isn’t quite what you thought. Ask yourself what do you really want now. It’s okay to grow in your dreams, either taking the next step onward or changing direction entirely.

    Above all, burnout is a message. It doesn’t mean you have to throw in the towel, but you do need to listen to your heart.

  11. Julia says:

    I’m not a professional writer, but I wanted to toss in my two cents; I can relate to burnout. As other posters mentioned, go easy on yourself. The last thing you need right now is to treat yourself harshly. If at all possible, take a little vacation. If that’s not possible, take a single day and relax, refresh and regroup. Spa? Spend the day outdoors? Do something you love. It sounds like you’re just keeping your head above water and you need a little perspective. When you feel less stressed, maybe ask yourself if you still love writing.
    I feel for you and I wish you the very best.
    Julie
    Julia recently posted..New Years Eve – past and present

  12. You only have to look at the other comments here to realise that you’re not alone, which should be of some comfort.

    The loss of one client, provided you’re not relying on the income from them, could be a blessing if you’re suffering from burnout and worrying about meeting the demands of so many clients.

    What’s more, if your work has been so much in demand over the last few months then maybe you should consider putting your prices up at times like these. You’ll earn more money from the clients you keep and gain more time to yourself from the clients you lose.

    It also appears to me that you could well end up falling into a familiar trap that so many of us have also fallen into. Basically, you get so busy servicing clients that you start to neglect your regular marketing. Then what happens is that your work starts to dry up and you have nothing to replace it.

    Burnout of any description is a serious matter and can lead to other ailments, particularly nasty stuff like clinical depression and chronic fatigue syndrome. So give your mind and body some respect + follow some of the other suggestions here.

    Quite often it’s the fear and fretting that’s your enemy and not the actual workload.
    Kevin Carlton recently posted..Get your website in shape for 2013 with these 3 New Year copywriting tips

  13. My guess is that Teresa is working in the “more is better” mode–a quick way to burnout. Taking as much work as possible might seem like it will pay the bills but, really, serves to diminish economies of scale. As she is discovering, quality decreases and joy flees.

    I would suggest this writer:;

    1) Take a nap, or two. Let her mind relax and wander.

    2) Find her wheelhouse. Send LOIs to companies within industries she is interested in writing about. There are plenty and as she does research for her LOI, she’ll start to get excited about how she can contribute.

    3) Write something totally different. Go creative. Work through a fiction writing lesson book and stretch the skill set. It’ll use different parts of the brain which will improve and refresh.

    Back on track for 2013!
    Carrie Schmeck recently posted..Shuck status quo and go big.

  14. Halina says:

    As stated above in the comments, some R&R is in order. Beyond that, burnout is usually a psychological sign that tells you, hey, something ain’t right here. It’s time for this writer to evaluate her career and figure out what is making her unhappy and unfulfilled. Is the problem too many clients? Is it dull work? Is it a lack of client feedback? Or is it the lack of a meaningful long-term project, like a novel? All these factors need to be examined, and soon.
    Halina recently posted..Curious about crowdfunding and how it can help your business?

  15. Barbara says:

    Oh, my gosh Teresa, you got double-whammyed, didn’t you?

    Let’s look at your burnout first. To recover, you need to back away from the computer and give yourself “Me-time.”

    Take a day, three, or even five, just to recharge your batteries. If you are so sick of writing, the sight of your computer makes you sick, just do anything but write. Take a bike ride, hike, walk, visit family and friends, crochet, read . . . something. Just, whatever you do, make it something you truly enjoy.

    Next, start looking on solid freelance writing jobs sites and identify a few (say, two or three) potential new clients per day. Write up a solid cover letter for each posting, customize your resume and start sending out pitches. Do this at least three days per week.

    Do you dream of writing for magazines? If so, identify several you’d love to see your byline in. Read several articles in these mags. Write up only one short sample and a pitch letter and send it to the magazine.

    Next, once the sight of your computer isn’t repulsive, use the “just write one” method. I use this when I’m nearing burnout. Give yourself to write “just one.” That could be one sentence, paragraph or an entire article. Shut the computer down. Or, if you still feel like you can continue, give yourself permission to write “just one more.” Then stop.

    The key here is to back yourself away sufficiently that you begin to love writing again. Give yourself permission to have some “Me-time” every week – and take it!

    Best of luck to you!
    Barbara

  16. Steve Maurer says:

    Taking time off may be helpful, but I also understand that it’s not always feasible. After all, bills still need to be paid, you still need to eat. Scheduling downtime may help you relax, even if it’s just short breaks during your day.

    The biggest issue I see is one that I have problems with when I get the burned out bug.

    You said that you are fighting it with a purple passion. At least for me, when I’m frustrated, even angry, the LAST thing I need to do is fight with it. It only deepens the frustration; it can be very counterproductive.

    It sounds as if you love writing; but, you just aren’t liking it right now because of the pressure you’re under. When this happens to me, I start working on a no-pressure, “fun” writing project. Something that may never be published (but could). Something I’ve always wanted to try, though and might be passionate about. Often this helps me get back into the groove.

    I start “liking” again what I’ve always loved.

    Wishing you the best!
    ~Steve
    Steve Maurer recently posted..Online/Offline Copy Differences

  17. Kinya says:

    I had to take a break from November until the last week in December due to burnout. I was so stressed out there were huge knots in my neck, shoulders and back muscles. I was flat out depressed. Even though my finances suffered, what I learned about myself is invaluable.

    The reason I was suffering is because I resented the work I was doing. It was paying the bills, but it wasn’t worth the effort I was putting into it. I knew I could make more. I knew I was worth more. So I devised a plan to move myself in a whole new direction.

    I’m approaching my career now with renewed vigor, and I have many copywriters telling me I’m going to be so successful this year if I just stick to my goals.

    As mentioned by so many writers above, please take a break. Step away from everything. Be a slug. I was. I laid around and watched old cartoons I grew up on, read books and spent time with my family and friends. Now I feel refreshed, and more in tune with my goals.
    Kinya recently posted..4 Reasons Your Website Copy Could Be Costing You Clients

  18. I find that setting aside time here and there for something fun that is completely unrelated to writing helps keep me from getting burned out. Paint a painting, go to the zoo, read a novel, knit a scarf, ride your bike, whatever. Just give yourself a break.
    Bethanny Parker recently posted..How to Write an Article for SEO

  19. Stacy says:

    I cut back on my coffee and started drinking more water. Staying away from junk food and eating at least one piece of fruit a day has helped (though I recommend eating more). Mediation, yoga – really, any exercise at all – helps keep burnout and stress at bay. I think most of the commenters here hit the nail on the head when they said to take a day off. Do try to take at least one day off a week. It can help you be more productive during the times you’re working.

    Also, bubble baths.
    Stacy recently posted..New Year’s Resolutions?

  20. Amandah says:

    Hi Teresa,

    It seems to me that you could be burning out because you don’t enjoy your freelance writing clients. Maybe even freelance writing has become a drag as well. This could be a blessing in disguise. Use the time you have to figure out who your ideal freelance writing clients are. Are they small, medium, or large businesses? What about the industry? Also, think about what you really want to write. Do you want to focus on blog copywriting? How about web pages? What about eBooks? Take some time to journal your thoughts. Be honest. There are no wrong answers.

    Avoid Burning Out

    To avoid burnout, I like to schedule downtime. For example, in the New Year, I won’t answer client emails on the weekend, or after a certain time during the week. I’ll make exceptions if and when there’s an emergency. Other than that, I need my downtime. I look at it this way: I’m no use to clients if I’m cranky and burned out. Relaxation is a great way to unwind and think of new writing angles and ideas.

    Love Freelance Writing

    The reason most of became freelance writers is to earn what we want to earn, take vacation when we want to take vacation, end our workday at a certain time, etc. Your freelance writing career is up to you. Decide how you want your freelance writing career to look and then take action to make it happen.

    Good luck… Happy New Year!

  21. Karen Cioffi says:

    I’ve been in very similar situations. Two years ago I had so much work I had to hire three subcontractors – I was definitely overstressed. Then last year, I lost my major client due to the company restructuring. I did get an amazing recommendation though. One of the important things to remember is to always leave on good terms and ask to be kept in mind for future work. You want to keep the door open.

    My advice to Teresa is to get help if you have more work than you can comfortably handle. There are a lot of qualified freelancers who are looking for work. The only thing to watch for is what to pay for the amount you’re received. Take into account that you’ll be doing a lot of managing: proofing content, organizing work, communicating with the client and your subcontractors, sending payments, and so on. If you’re not careful, you’ll have more work for less money.
    Karen Cioffi recently posted..Aim Your Writing At The Right Level

  22. Carol Tice says:

    I’m so glad I set up this thread — my readers have so much wisdom! Love ALL the feedback above. Especially eating healthier, exercising more, getting more sleep, etc.

    I’m not really feeling well today, so keep the advice coming, writers!

  23. Susan Cox says:

    Sounds all too familiar! First off, step away from the computer and take several deep, cleansing breaths!
    You say that your quality of writing has suffered-highly doubtful. When I am doing a project in an area that I have little interest, I am bored senseless. Boring writing gigs suck the creative life out of me, in fact.
    Spin these obstacles-being bored and losing a client to your advantage. Hone in on what you love, start uber prospecting this niche, repeat. Give yourself an attainable timetable of getting this done and see how your freelance business will flourish!
    2013 is the year to make this happen!

  24. Lots of great advice so far. I have one more piece to add.

    Go to your doctor and get a complete physical. Make sure there are no physical issues contributing to your feelings of burnout and overwhelm. Make sure you’re eating foods that nourish you, not food-like substances that deplete you. Get at least 7 hours sleep each night — more is better. Make some time for exercise. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy, just a 30 minute walk will help.

    Once you know your body is functioning properly and getting what it needs, then focus on the feelings of burnout. Maybe you need some meditation to clear and focus your mind.

    Then look at the kind of work you’re doing. When you’re writing about things that interest you, you don’t feel burned out. How can you eliminate the work that bores or stifles you and replace it with more interesting projects?

    Don’t expect burnout to turn around overnight, but you can get through it to a more satisfying writing career.
    Susanna Perkins recently posted..Foreign Legal Residency: Part of of Global Diversification

  25. Darren says:

    Some great advice already but what I tend to do is revert back to the early days. Take a well deserved break then start again in bite size chunks.
    Think back to how you started and the things that you enjoyed about the whole writing process. Take time out to write for you, not just for profit (there is a huge difference). Maybe you could concentrate on the contracts that require less work but you could charge slightly more to help balance your financial loss.
    Above all, you need to share your feelings whether they are good or bad. Stay connected to writing forums and blogs and by building relationships with other writers you will learn great techniques and tips to help prevent a future burnout.

  26. Overload and clutter are major factors in most cases of burnout, and often they have less to do with your actual work hours than with a mind obsessed–even during off hours–with “what still has to be done.” And that issue is frequently tied to having semi-consciously learned to associate e-mail, social networking, and even reading in general with “more work.” Hence, I would amend to the “take a break” advice: think at least three times before you use any part of that day off to check your e-mail or voice mail, or to go online in general (no, you won’t be able to do it in “just a couple of minutes”), or even to catch up on that reading list. In fact, the second ANY kind of list infiltrates your day off, you’re dangerously close to turning it into another work day or just trading one type of overload for another.
    Katherine Swarts recently posted..On Not Stepping on People’s Toes

  27. Of all of the above excellent advice, exercise works best for me. I just got back from a short bike ride and swim. I’ll be starting work an hour later than yesterday, but will probably accomplish more. I try to do that 3 times a week, but between work and the holidays, I hadn’t done it in nearly 2 weeks and was getting seriously burned out and depressed. I have other “tricks” as well, but exercise seems to be the most reliable “therapy.”
    Rob Schneider recently posted..What Everyone Ought to Know about Brainwave Entrainment

  28. I agree with all of the advice. I just want to reiterate what some have already said based on my personal experiences. I burn out quickly when I’m doing something that I don’t fully enjoy AND when I know there’s something else beckoning me. This happened when I was teaching full time and too drained to work on my creative writing. I had to go down to one, part time teaching job. When I did, the burned out feeling vanished.
    Sarah L. Webb recently posted..Django Unchained: Roots & Routes

  29. anne grant says:

    Strengthen other areas of your life so there is a cushion between your work life and the other (more important) aspects of a full life.
    When you do what you love for a living, it can consume you to the point of losing yourself. Find other ways to develop yourself so if you do fall out of love with one thing, you have something else to look forward to and fulfill your life…even on the harder days.

  30. I’ve definitely been there. What I find is I usually suffer creative burnout for one of two reasons:

    1) The work I’m doing is boring or feels pointless. I prefer to write things that communicate important information, promote a genuinely useful product or service, or make a difference in the world.

    Even if you can’t afford to drop work that is boring you and stressing you out, you can compensate by doing your own writing on the side – whether it’s working on that novel, writing flash fiction, starting a blog, or doing some volunteer work for a charity, nonprofit, or cause that you’re passionate about.

    My personal goal in 2013 is to spend more time on my own creative writing – and to make the time if I have to. If I’m not out there making cool things just for fun, it’s hard for me to get into the copy I’m writing at work. I love my job, but I need “me” time too!

    2) The other main reason for burnout is if I’m going through a difficult time in my life. Last year, I really struggled with my health, and this year I’m still dealing with some of the financial fallout (medical debt is awesome like that). The quality of my writing really suffered due to my poor health – and pushing myself even though I felt horrible really didn’t help. (Unfortunately, when your illness stretches on for most of a year like mine did, you don’t really have any other options. But don’t feel bad about taking a couple days off if you have the flu.)

    The same thing happens during periods when I’m really stressed out about my personal relationships, money, deadlines, etc. I’ve noticed a marked improvement since I’ve started working to improve my ability to set boundaries. Usually those boundaries are with other people – refusing to commit to unrealistic deadlines, refusing to deal with toxic people, even avoiding talking to people who seem to always be embroiled in some kind of drama.

    So far, that’s going well…but the real challenge is setting boundaries with myself. I’m still working on committing to not push myself when I’m feeling burned out, sick, depressed, etc. It’s hard. But I’ve gotten better at it, and it’s worth it! :)
    Julie M. Rodriguez recently posted..Make Writing Resolutions You Can Actually Keep in 2013

    • RAJESH says:

      Burnout is first of all, a problem created by yourself. So you can solve it yourself.
      1. Choose your niche topics mainly, if not only. When you get bored with your niche for sometime, take a break or try something different. After a while you will feel like coming back to your own field of interest.
      2. Take a short break from sit-and-complete type job. Do some works which require you to move and talk to and mix with people. You will get something new for your writing topics as well.
      3. Interview some friends in other niches. Contemplate about writing in those niches with the help of these interviews.
      4. Gradually reduce your work load. You may later, when you feel better, go for more working.
      5. If you are interested in poetry and/ or short stories read or/and write some. After lots of “How to…” topics these are excellent refreshers.
      6. Try some power point/ video tutorials posts in your field of interest. For instance I ‘m learning PHOTOSHOP now and may come up with tutorials after sometime. It provides me excellent creative food.
      7. I have also tried teaching in burn out moments. You feel immensely satisfied with the thought that you are giving something to the world.

      When you think more, you yourself may come up with more suggestions. Giving such solutions makes me feel creative and this itself becomes a tool to burn away the burn-out.
      Thanks

  31. Debra Stang says:

    Reading this post, I felt as if you had somehow crawled inside my mind–I haven’t lost any major clients yet, but in mid-December, I was so burned out I could barely stand to sit down at my keyboard and start typing.

    What helped me was a one-week vacation. I notified my clients I would be unavailable for a short time. Then I went to a family reunion in Scottsdale, Arizona and didn’t even bring my laptop. I didn’t even check email on my smart phone. My family and I had a fantastic time, and I returned from my trip, perhaps not completely rejuvenated but ready to take on writing jobs again.

    If you can’t afford to go out of town, try a stay-cation–the key is to stay away completely away from work for at least a few days. I hope this helps and that you can overcome your burnout. Best wishes to you!
    Debra Stang recently posted..Keep a Gratitude List in Your Writing Workspace

  32. Anita says:

    Lots of good advice here already. I just wanted to add that this morning I heard part of a program titled, “What’s the best new career for you?” One of the experts said something that resonates with many freelance writers: no matter what career we choose, we have to be willing to do the parts of the job that are “a grind” in order to do the parts that we love to do.

    Here’s a link to the piece: http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2013/01/03/daily-circuit-life-swap/

    Interestingly, many of the people who participate in the LifeSwap program, shadowing a person in another profession for a few days, conclude that they want to stay in their current profession. Sometimes a little research helps put things in perspective. Or who knows, maybe it’ll give you a new direction?
    Anita recently posted..looking back on 2012

  33. LindaH says:

    Teresa,
    I’ve been burned out too and I truly relate to your comments. It wasn’t long ago that I was thoroughly frustrated with my writing and wanted to just quit–but not being a quitter put a damper on that thought. Then I heard Carol say, “You have to start somewhere,” so I followed what I thought I wanted to do and it turned disasterous. Plus, no income.

    I got a contract working with an organization that fit one of my niches, but it took me away from my office twice a month and that sometimes cost me. Still, as the year progressed I realized I did make some good money through them so simply the days out part of my routine. But as a result I lost part of another contract with a media service. Because I was gone on certain days, they pulled my proofreading/copy editing from three different newsletters they publish. I went from making close to $400/month to about $100-150. I was floored and nervous about the income loss.

    I realized, however, that it was really a good thing. By not having that extra work hanging over me I could pursue more writing that brought me more income. I could focus on blogging and other editors. In the process, I realized I didn’t truly have a solid niche market–or so I thought. It stopped me.

    After looking at things, and literally stepping back, taking more time to think, read, and relax, I saw that I have four niches markets I can focus on. I know how to interview and started interviewing for my blog posts. I’m pushing myself to start those this year. In the past when I blogged regularly I started getting offers to blog for others. Now’s the time to build that market.

    My editors with the newsletters are giving me more work now again. I asked for it. They like the quality, they like working with me, and I’m back to making a little more than $150-200/month. Not much, but something.

    For your situation I suggest that you pull back and rest more. Take time to truly look at what you want to write. Read more–it will excite you and you’ll see a flame ignite within you to write again. Spend time with others outside the office–networking, with friends at coffee, at the library reading and researching. By dividing your time and giving yourself room to breath you’ll rediscover your love for writing. I did, and I hated it for a long time! But now, I’m endlessly trying to funnel my thoughts into small circles so I can focus on one topic to write on and publish.

    In time it comes. I think our burnout and nervousness over money comes from being too stressed and not giving ourselves time to be human. Once you rediscover your humanness, you rediscover your love for writing and the excitement it can bring when you read a piece, get an idea and want to share your slant for pay.

    Good luck,
    LindaH recently posted..Are You Sabotaging Your Interview for The “A” Team?

  34. Howard Baldwin says:

    Lots of excellent advice here, but I would also recommend taking a look at your actual writing process. My sense is that burnout can result from doing too much “wheel-spinning” or unnecessary activities. It’s hard to advise someone on how to be organized, but I live and die by Microsoft Outlook.

    I recommend keeping extensive to-do lists (I keep one for what needs to be done today and another for everything else on the docket). I organize my e-mail by client and by project, so I can always find previous communications. I try (but don’t always succeed) to put sources into my database, along with a keyword about their expertise so I can easily find them a second time. I put my downtime activities into my calendar so I can work around them. By taming the “administrivia,” as my 9th grade math teacher called it, I can focus on the important stuff — delivering quality work on time.

  35. Phil says:

    Tons of good advice above, nice job guys.

    I’ve spent the last ten years programming, a very similar lifestyle to writing. Here’s what I’ve learned about healing burn out.

    Keep it simple.

    Burn out is most likely not a complex psychological problem requiring deep analysis and sweeping business changes etc, but a simple matter of taking better care of our bodies.

    Yoga and mediation can be essential tools for those of us who sit in chairs all day doing intellectual work. If we turn our minds off regularly, they work better, and last longer.

    I do ten miles a day on my $10 bike, and it really helps. Yup, it takes 90 minutes, but when I get home from a good biking my brain is full of oxygen, and I’m brilliant, not burned out! :-)

    Diet is always a place to work on improvements. We are what we eat and all that. It’s true! Love animals don’t eat them can be a good place to start.

    Train as if writing was an Olympic sport, and keep the burn out at bay.

  36. Vinil says:

    I think it’s about getting organized and scheduling some time for pleasure. I faced similar challenges at my work too, today, I work only 5 days a week, go out once a week and just sleep on a Sunday. It’s about realizing that there’s a lot more to life than just work. Let your hair down, forget about work for a few weeks, go out on a holiday and come back with a fresh new “you.”
    Vinil recently posted..Case Study Marketing

  37. Rick Elfstrom says:

    every one of us have sometimes burnouts, I myself then take some vacations to regain energy! :)

  38. Roger Carr says:

    I have discovered that putting in more hours into work doesn’t always translate into more progress. Taking the long and short breaks (including naps) others have suggested may seem like work will get more behind, but in reality the “recharge” allows us to be more creative and productive with the hours we put into a task.

    Also, focusing on the positive benefits of doing a great job instead of the negative things that could occur if the work doesn’t get done would help. The ability to get the work completed without quality suffering will be the benefit. I know it isn’t easy under the circumstances, but it is a choice we can make.
    Roger Carr recently posted..Do You Live a Balanced Llfe?

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