It’s that time of year. Christmas is 14 days away. I’m also on a deadline for my next novel. My day job has been crazy. Long story short, I’m feeling a tad on the burned-out side. Sound familiar? Even without the complications of Christmas, burnout can happen, especially if you work full time, write, and have other responsibilities. It impacts more than just our writing. It impacts our lives. Take a look at the five statements below. Do they fit you at this time?
- My family and friends say they hardly ever see me.
- My writing seems flat and difficult.
- I have no creativity in me.
- I feel burned out to the point where I’m not caring about things that are important to me.
- I want to withdraw from life for a little bit.
Do you agree with any of those? I think at one point or another during my writing journey, I’ve experienced what I described above. Stepping back and taking a look at it, I’ve come to realize that if any of these statements are true in my life, it means that my work-life balance is out of whack. I’m not a life coach or anything, but I’ve lived for a bit as a writer who works full time. These statements I listed above stalk me constantly. I have to be aware of them.
The five steps I list below are ways to restore that balance. Taking care of yourself is a whole other post that I’ll talk about next week but is as equally important. Today, it’s more about restoring that balance.
- Listen to those around you. “Why don’t you take a night off?” “I think you need some time off.” “Give it a rest.” These are all statements my husband has said to me on and off over the years as I’ve pursued this dream of writing. He doesn’t say things like that often, so when he does, I listen. It’s a subtle reminder that there’s more to life than writing. We writers need to remember that our craft is a solitary one and that when we put too much time into it, our friends and family miss us.
- Have interests other than writing. Having other interests can keep us in balance by expanding our world. Those interests can vary from being involved in civic matters to enjoying needlework. I like being out in the garden during warm months, and I also enjoy other activities like hiking and working out. Develop those activities because one day if writing becomes your full-time work, you’ll need another way to balance your life.
- Take time for a writing Sabbath. This doesn’t have to be a long break. A day may suffice or maybe an evening if a deadline looms, but take time off from writing. Sometimes I know it’s hard to do, but deliberately taking time off can restore perspective and creativity. During the school year, I have two days off simply due to my schedule of household chores and Bible study.
- Get out in nature. Do you feel lost and without ideas? Find them again or get inspired by being out in the world created by the very One who gave you your talent. When I say God’s creation, I mean to get away from things made by man. Take a hike in the woods. Go to the beach and gaze at the ocean. Head to the closest park and listen to the sounds of nature. You’ll be one-on-one with the sheer, raw work of God’s hands. Whenever I gaze at God’s handiwork, it restores me.
- Take a vacation. What I mean is more than a long weekend. I mean to go step away from your day job and writing for a week. As a supervisor at my day job, I encourage my staff use their leave, as our employer gives it to us to be used, not to sit in the bank. Be it a staycation or a trip halfway around the world, vacation allows us to switch up our schedules, rest, recharge, and reset. When I return from a vacation, I do indeed feel ready to return to writing.
Listen to yourself. If you’re feeling unbalanced, take careful stock as to why. The address it. Not only will you feel better, but I guarantee you’ll be more productive not just at your day job but at your writing as well.
When your life is feeling out of balance, how do you restore it?
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