Monday, May 10, 2010


“Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths.” - Etty Hillesum

L. Diane Wolfe is also known as “Spunk on a Stick.” She’s an author, a speaker who conducts seminars on promoting, leadership and goal setting, and a photographer. I can tell from the comments on my last post that many of you have been looking forward to her guest blog on the topic of burnout as much as I have, so let’s get to it.

The Burnout

Passion is described as setting yourself on fire and inviting the world to watch you burn.

But what happens when we burn too hard for too long?


There are many forms of burnout. Writers can experience burnout and lose interest in their work. An author on tour experiences burnout after too many activities, either physical or online.

Few of us experience writing as the sole activity in our life. We have families. Many have jobs and businesses. We have friends, church, and organizations. We enjoy hobbies, pets, and other activities. And at some point, we require food and sleep!

The best option is to avoid burnout in the first place. As writers, we have several choices. Procrastination is the enemy of deadlines. If we tackle a project head-on and plan our daily goals, we avoid the pressure of a looming deadline and an incomplete task. We can keep more than one project in the works - if one loses our interest, we can switch to a new WIP. Often when we complete a large body of work, we are too burned out and tired to think of a new piece right away, but planning the next major project ahead of time will alleviate that problem.

Authors can experience burnout after a heavy tour schedule. The best way to avoid this is to maintain control of our calendar. We need to understand our limits and know when to say no. Physical appearances are draining, in terms of both the event and the travel. Don’t book too many events and weigh each new opportunity carefully. Virtual appearances also require a great deal of time and preparation. Overlapping physical and virtual appearances can really add to the stress, so it’s best to keep those two separate whenever possible. Most important, allow time for breaks.

Despite the best-laid plans, burnout can still occur. Our fire fizzles and we lose enthusiasm. It’s time to stop, drop, and roll!

Burnout occurs on many levels - physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. When our body and heart tells us we are reaching the end of our resources, we need to take a break. If we are frustrated with our writing or exhausted from appearances, we need to stop and recharge our batteries. This may be as simple as an activity at which we excel. We can take a vacation. We can try a new experience. We can read a book, insert some physical activity into our life, meditate, or spend time with family. We can seek out someone who inspires and uplifts us.

Whatever we choose, we need to remove ourselves from the stressful rut and refresh our outlook on life. It’s better to lose a little momentum than completely crash. If we set a goal before we take our break, we’ll find it’s easier to get back on track when we return, too. We still have too much to accomplish to burn out now!

Thank you for the good advice and tips, Diane.

Readers, are you suffering from burnout? If so, how do you plan to tackle it?

Heather, the fifth book in the series, The Circle of Friends, was recently released and can be found on Amazon and other online bookstores, along with Books one through four of The Circle of Friends series and her non-fiction book, Overcoming Obstacles with Spunk.

Find out more about L. Diane Wolfe and her books at and

Thanks for stopping by today.

Tags: Etty Hillesum , L. Diane Wolfe, burnout , procrastination, stress,


Elisabeth said...

Good advice, I reckon.

The trouble for me is that there are also the added often unconscious dimensions that can drive my efforts. A leaning towards omnipotence perhaps. This said with my tongue in cheek.

Thanks Jane, for inviting such a wonderful guest.

Joanne said...

I'm a walker, and have always found walking to help burnout, or lethargy, or writer's block. It removes me from my routine at the desk, gets me outside, engages different senses. I talk with whoever I'm walking with, breathe deeply, engage with nature, exercise my mind and body, and come back to the page refreshed.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I like these tips, Diane. I especially like the mindset behind it--that avoiding burnout is all about control...the control we need to maintain over our schedule and our deadlines. So TRUE! I'm tweeting...

Mystery Writing is Murder

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Jane, thank you again for hosting me! This post was good therapy for me!

Joanne, a walk does wonders for the soul.

Thanks, Elizabeth! Yes, I think maintaining control is the first thing we need to consider. It's when we hand control over to others that we lose our purpose.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I will remember to maintain control!

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

Elisabeth, tongue-in-cheek or not, our unconscious dimensions can be a real handicap at times.

Joanne, walking is one of my best therapies, too.

Elizabeth, the answer sounds so easy but control can sometimes be difficult for me to manage.

Diane, I am so excited to have you here today. Burnout seems to be something we all can relate to.

Alex, let us know how that goes!

Karen Walker said...

This is very wise advice, Diane. Thanks, Jane, for hosting Spunky. I am suffering from a bit of burnout right now. I think that's why I got bronchitis. I didn't stop, so my body stopped me. It pays to listen.

Mason Canyon said...

We all suffer from burnout of some type. Taking a break from what you're doing does help. Great tips.

Thoughts in Progress

Carol Kilgore said...

Excellent post about this problem. Thanks.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Thanks, everyone.
Our bodies are pretty smart - they will tell us when they're about to give out and need a break!

Journaling Woman said...

Exercise and changing pace a bit helps me with burnout. Doing something out of the ordinary helps my creative juices flow.

Thanks Jane for hosting. Diane, this is great advice. Very useful.

Helen Ginger said...

Really good advice, Diane. I try to be organized and that helps, but sometimes the best help is to step away from the computer and go outside.

Straight From Hel

arlee bird said...

What I hear here is putting balance in one's life. If you're writing, do some reading; if you're sitting inside a lot, do some physical activity. A continued regimen of the same thing is fatiguing, which leads to bad stress, which can lead to burnout.
Good points, Diane.
Thank you, Jane.

May 17th Fifteen Fantasy Island Favorites

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Thanks JW and Helen!

Arlee, that is what you are hearing - balance! And not that everything receives an equal slice of the pie - everything receives and adequate dose.

Stephen Tremp said...

I need breaks. Burnout happens. I think burnout is a good thing. It allows an author to take a break. stand back, reflect, then come back with a fresh perspective.

Scientists do this too. They take a week or two off, vacation, then come back to their work with a fresh and refreshed perspective.

Stephen Tremp

cassandrajade said...

Burn out is one of those things that when it happens, you just need to walk away for a few days and get your bearings again. The danger being that a few days can turn into weeks and on and on it goes.
Thanks for sharing such an interesting post.

dooblabox said...

I don't know. I think that a moderate burnout is normal and healthy. Just like all people get sad, all writers get tired. We don't want to feel sad or exhausted, but it's an important part of the journey and without it, we wouldn't feel the highs of an active and happy day.

All About Creativity

The Old Silly said...

Great article and advise from Diane ... but then again, that's what we EXPECT from the Spunkster! (wink)

Nancy J. Parra said...

This is good advice. I think I'm a better writer for having a life outside of writing.


cafelopez said...

I'm never aware of being burned's when I realize that I've been staring at the same sentence for hours that I know it's time to walk away. And I agree with those comments that recommend walking - especially if you can convince someone to join you. Great post ~

Patricia Stoltey said...

This post definitely speaks to my state of mind, Diane. Yep, tuck and roll. That's exactly what I'm doing. I'm cutting back on my blogging schedule, catching up the To Dos, and I'm going to take a little vacation starting Wednesday. And naps, I'm going to take lots of naps. :)

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Patricia, I wrote this because I'm in the process of tuck & roll right now.

Dooblabox, after six years of this, I've experienced short spans of burnout. It's the big burnout, the one that sidelines for months, which we need to avoid.

Jane's Ride - Novelist Jane Kennedy Sutton's journey through the ups and downs of the writing, publishing and marketing world