Lost That Lovin’ Feeling? (Part Dos)

Monday I listed some clues to help you discern if you have Writer’s Burnout. Please refer to that post (or to your psychologist) if you have doubts.

Writing is a hard job. (Isn’t everything a hard job? Well, except for maybe ice cream tasting. Or fry maker. But then you’d get tired of fries and ice cream, and that’s a horrible burden to put on any individual.)

I digress.

Writing back-to-back-to-back-to-back books can wear on a person, no matter how much they love writing, how much they adore their readers, or how much Xanax they mixed in with their Fruity Pebbles. I have just recently started writing after a year-and-a-half off from composing any original material. It’s allowed me time to get some clarity, rest up a bit, and accumulate some tips on dealing with Writing Fatigue. I thought I would share a few of the things I’ve learned along the way. (This post works best when read aloud over the strains of the “Chariots of Fire” theme song.)

1. Take time off. I know some people can’t afford this, but let’s go with the premise you can. There are risks in a break: lose readers, lose momentum, possibly lose publisher confidence. For me, I decided I didn’t care. I really felt like God had been saying for quite a while “REST.” I ignored this until I finally couldn’t. It jacked with pretty much every area of my life. And yet. I believe the best is yet to come. I think it’s like running–for many of us; it’s hell while we’re doing it, but the payoff is larger than the loss. I believe God is going to make up for anything I gave up or missed out on. I haven’t regretted my hiatus for a second. Had I stayed in the game, I would’ve been grouchily writing crappy books I didn’t have the energy to care about.

Taking time off gets you out of your rut and routine. Writing is a rare blessing, don’t get me wrong. But once your writing becomes a business and not a past-time, things drastically change. For me, taking time off gave me moments with my family I wouldn’t have had, time to watch TV again (crazy, but this has been majorly therapeutic and creativity-jolting), time to read (did you know there’s this whole series about this boy wizard?), time to hang out with friends, travel, stay up late, not sit down for hours at a time, read magazines, learn something new, and be present in a moment. I’m not a good balancer. So when I get back to writing full-time, I will be energized because I took some time to live. And it will hopefully be fresh on my brain, so if I get too far away from it, I’ll know I’m out of sync and need to regroup.

2. Do/Read/See something that’s not “you.” This will not only work your brain, but maybe inspire new ideas. Somehow I got a subscription to the Smithsonian magazine. Justin Timberlake and Lindsey Lohan have yet to make an appearance, so not really my sort of thing. But I’ve yet to flip through it that I didn’t get sucked right in and find all sorts of ideas. (Ideas for other people, but still. Ideas.)  Order something different off the menu. Put some color in your wardrobe. Buy some funky, frivolous shoes. Visit your local performing arts center. (When there’s a show. Not like when it’s 2 am and you’re there with a spotlight and a crowbar.) Attend a public school theater, choir, or band performance. Rent season one of that show everyone’s been talking about. Have a picnic. Watch some TLC. (The channel. Not these ladies…)

Do something to break the monotony and help yourself get out of your rut. Writing is about living by quite a few rules. Retrain your brain that the rules don’t apply to all of your life.

3. Join/Start a book club. My friends Rhonda and Mary started a book club in their town, so I decided to do the same. It’s been fun having to read books I normally wouldn’t, to discuss the good and bads with other people, and to have a reason to get out of the house. This group will never, and I mean never, read my books for the club. It’s a lot of fun to just sit there as a reader, but also inspiring and helpful to hear from the others as readers–what works for them, what doesn’t. Readers don’t deal with spreadsheets, sales figures, and publishing research. The women I talk books with don’t care what the author tweeted that day, what e-reader she pimped out last week, or what lip gloss she’ll be giving out at her signing next Saturday. What they care about is a good story. The things a reader likes or dislikes are fairly simple really. And simple does a heart good, doesn’t it? (Especially when combined with snacks.)

4. Reduce or eliminate your Twitter and Facebook reading. It’s one thing to be informed on the industry and writing info. But stay on social media for more than a few minutes, and you’re quickly neck deep in a tidal wave of negative. From humble-brags to contract announcements of the one who took your place or just pitched the very book you’re writing, to pulling up a blog post that’s nothing more than one photo and two lines of drivel that somehow gets 300 comments, Social Media has to be the easiest arrow in Satan’s arsenal right now. It’s cultivating a culture of comparison and envy. Middle school flashbacks will not heal that Writer’s Burnout. Plus, I happen to be the queen of seeing Tweets that shouldn’t see the light of day, but somehow do, before they’re deleted from the Twitterverse stream. Just last week I saw one that made me think, “Does Publisher X know this employee just put that information out there and now their whole list of authors are on fire talking about this?” I doubt it.  Either way, it was a waste of my energy to go to that negative place to even worry about it. The solution? I needed to log off.

5. People watch. (Enough said.)

Well, that’s it for today. Stay tuned for the final in a series I didn’t know I was writing, cleverly titled with oh-so-much originality “Lose That Lovin’ Feeling? (Part Tres).  We’ll talk techie gadgets, prayer, and shutting out “the voices.”
See you then.

Click HERE for Part Uno.
Click HERE for Part TRES.


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15 comments

15 Comments so far

  1. Tammy April 25th, 2012 8:16 am

    Jenny just wanted to say you are awesome :)
    I love reading your blog and your books!
    Keep going girl! Your an inspiration to me!

  2. Richard Mabry April 25th, 2012 9:07 am

    Jen, Two great messages in that post. First, you’re writing again–good news. And second, you, like me, think that social media can be an instrument of the devil, especially for a writer. Preach it, sister.
    Looking forward to part three. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Rachel Hauck April 25th, 2012 11:19 am

    LOL to number 4. Sooo true! How do they do that?

    BTW, welcome back!

  4. bookwyrm15 April 25th, 2012 11:53 am

    So true to number 5! Honestly I’ve come up with so many ideas for stories just from people watching!

    Of course, once they realize I’m watching them, they get this creeped out look on their face and start to back away. I have no idea why they find someone watching their every move or listening to their conversation so weird. Anyway, that’s when I have to shout, “Hey! Come back! I’m not a creeper, I’m writing a book!” Strangely enough, that doesn’t seem to help :)

  5. Dawn April 25th, 2012 12:16 pm

    Love your posts because you always make me smile, if not laugh! So right on #4. Positive, People, let’s be positive! So, so glad to hear you are writing! (No pressure!)

  6. Serenity Bohon April 25th, 2012 1:48 pm

    Oy, the social media devil, I know him well. I miss a lot of good stuff on there (I think?) because I look at it now with my fingers over my eyes (“Nobody say anything that will make me jealous, mad, morbidly curious, sad, jealous, or jealous. Okay? And No Whammies.”)

    Love this series. Here’s to finding your next story to give. :)

  7. Em April 25th, 2012 2:45 pm

    A really good post and certainly puts things into perspective…looking forward to your next story!

  8. jada-renee AKA cookie703 April 25th, 2012 3:13 pm

    im a fateful reader!!!

    anyway, im not tired enough to take a break from writing. but when i am, ill rest…and people watch.

  9. bookwyrm15 April 25th, 2012 3:55 pm

    BTW, SOOOOOOOOOOOO excited for your next book! No pressure or anything! :)

  10. Myra McEntire April 25th, 2012 8:11 pm

    YES. To all of it. Especially the social media part. Another author and I talked about looking for affirmation in the wrong places, and the dangers in finding it and NOT finding it.

    Have I mentioned I like you?

  11. Jenny B. Jones April 25th, 2012 9:32 pm

    Thanks, all, for the thumbs up.
    Myra, right back at you. You funny, girl. You funny.
    Serenity, I could stand to “miss” a whole lot more on Social Media.

    Doc Mabry, you’re so encouraging. Thank you. : )

  12. Erin McFarland April 25th, 2012 11:27 pm

    Love this series Jenny. The social media thing can be a devil in all sorts of ways…in my profession, it’s the same (though I gave up on Twitter in 2009 cuz I didn’t have anything more interesting to say than “Just wiped a rear-end for the ump-teenth time today.”) I know it has its perks too, but we can all benefit from your advice of…reduce.
    I was telling another aspiring writing buddy about you recently and how I so love and appreciate your honesty and candidness about writing. Just one of many reasons your blog will never leave my reader :)

  13. jada-renee AKA cookie703 April 26th, 2012 3:17 pm

    WRITE MORE BOOKS!!! you r my inspiration!

  14. Cara Putman April 28th, 2012 7:53 pm

    Great post! Now to actually take your advice LOL

  15. Ronda April 30th, 2012 10:48 am

    SO true about the social media.

    Gotta say that I do love the way you write, but I can see how it might wear a person down. Waiting patiently for your next inspiration! :)

    And that video? Wow. I watched about half of it…wondering af anyone actually watches the whole thing. Sheesh. not to mention that it included a “his self.” Ugh.

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