How to Beat Self-Publishing Burnout
The competitive atmosphere of self-publishing leads more people to burnout than to success. It’s difficult to maintain a high output while managing the technical and commercial aspects of publishing, and most writers weren’t cut out for the grind that most gurus recommend.
Even if you love writing, a poor connection with your work in progress can turn it from an engaging activity into a chore. If you’re trying to turn writing and self-publishing into a job, this strain grows worse until it’s difficult to write anything at all.
Burnout is a serious problem—but it doesn’t have to be the end of your self-publishing adventures, and if you catch it early, you can turn it around.
Red Flags of Burnout
Even if you’re not completely burnt out of writing, you might recognize some of these early red flags.
Red flag one: You’re not having fun.
If you follow this blog, I’ll assume that you write fiction and that you self-publish (or want to self-publish) it. Fiction by nature is supposed to be entertaining. While it can be work to craft a story and prepare it for an audience, you should pause if you’re not having any fun along the process. Even if it isn’t a total drain, this is a sign that something isn’t as good as it could be.
Red flag two: Blocks are common and growing.
If you’re getting frequent resistance from your stories, don’t ignore it. This applies to partial blocks as well—scenes that don’t want to be written, conversations that feel forced even if you can still plow through them.
While occasional blocks are a part of the process, a growth in frequency and intensity could mean that something is off-balanced about your work and that you’re working toward burnout.
Red flag three: You’re procrastinating. A lot.
If you’re looking for reasons to not write, your reluctance could be a sign of oncoming burnout. This is a case where you need to listen to your gut. Some people always feel a need to avoid work, but if it’s unusual for you, you might want to slow down and figure out what’s going on.
Red flag four: You feel pressured to either double down or walk away entirely.
This is something I’ve noticed after watching multiple authors hit burnout. Leading up to the big crash is an urge to do more, to commit more of your life to your writing while at the same time wanting to walk away from it and leave it in the past. If this is the feeling that haunts you with your writing, you probably need a readjustment.
Any of the above signs are indications that you’re headed for burnout. Before you get any further, take a moment to stop and reflect. You might already know the cause of your burnout or what you need to do to turn it around. If not, here are a few common causes of author burnout—and solutions to get back on track.
Burnout Causes And Solutions
Cause: You’re not writing the right books for you. In this case, you might be selling well or have chosen to work in a popular genre. Some people can write in any genre they choose and not suffer fatigue, but most need to feel a deeper connection or interest in their subject matter. If you’re writing books that you would never care to read, you’ll probably experience burnout.
Solution: If you’re writing in a genre you don’t especially like, here’s a reminder that you don’t have to write in a certain genre to succeed. Let yourself explore and find something that looks more exciting and interesting. Browse a store as a reader and pick up a few titles that look interesting to you.
Cause: You’re too absent from your personal life. In an industry as unregulated and competitive as self-publishing, it’s easy to enslave yourself to your writing without noticing it. Family, social obligations and emotional needs can go completely unchecked in the name of publishing your next book.
Solution: Writing and publishing shouldn’t take over every facet of your life, and they don’t have to. Shorten your hours and honor your commitments to others or find a different activity you enjoy. Remember it’s okay to cut back if you have social obligations or are going through an emotionally trying time. Your mental state will show through your writing, so things will improve if you’re taking care of yourself.
Cause: You lost track of your original goal. You started with a dream and a story, but you’ve reached the point where you don’t know what you’re fighting for. Self-publishing involves juggling different tasks, and the many goals available can make you focus on the distractions instead of what you love. In this case, you’re suffocating yourself while alienating yourself from the very things you most wanted to achieve.
Solution: Don’t get caught up with the rat race if that wasn’t your original goal for writing. Revisit your earlier ambitions and start from there, or write down what it is that you actually want and why you want that. In this case, you might find that what you want is actually much closer than you had guessed.
There might be other causes and solutions out there. If you have tips for avoiding burnout, please sign in to leave a comment in the section below. Otherwise, please consider donating a coffee at the button if this article helped you. Coffee money goes directly into the production of more posts like this, and it is much appreciated!