Saturday, June 26, 2010


Is it burnout I've been suffering? Has anyone else suffered writer's burnout? I don't think it's writer's block. Maybe it is, since I've never seen an apt definition for it, how would I know? I guess the point is that I have yet to learn to maintain my own style of writing after having jumped into the critique gauntlet. That gauntlet can be so harsh and unfavorable toward a flamboyant writing style, b/c it doesn't appeal to more minimalist writers. So I've been minimalizing my writing style, trying to make it conform to writing "rules." And now I find myself in a fix. My brain is exhausted, my inner editor has grown into a monster, and I think I'm afraid of every word I put on the page -- or don't, in many cases.

The experts say, "Write everyday." So writing continually (I haven't been able to maintain a daily writing schedule in years. That's called obligations to someone besides myself), in addition to all the above, I believe, has led me to Writer's Burnout. In other words, I've really been contemplating what's been going on inside my head for a while now (obvious, given the ponderings below), and that is my conclusion.

Still working on the Falcon Novels. I can't believe how involved I am in a book I've revised multiple times. The work of my heart. Everything else is peripheral. I don't feel burned out when I'm working on the Falcons. I'm even dreaming about the characters again. Things are on the upswing. Surely. I hope. Yes!


izzey said...

Yes my dear...writers do have "burnouts"!!!
I just went through one. My circuits are all fresh again, and those that were 'fried' are now replaced. My book had become 'a chore' and I dropped it like a hot potato. (I now know better)

The poetry, was a direct result of chapters that inspired them, or my job on boats, and the sheer love of the sea. I have been in a rut with all.

Not "a block" as you say. I had the words...but was not feeling them. Something has happened in the last week to I am writing with the passion that does not hold me to chore.

It is freedom. :)
we tend to get caught up in our own idiosyncratic, scrutiny. And that which does not bring us joy, does not come natural, and we pick it apart...until we no longer recognize it.

Hence, forced words....that sound like they belong to someone else....or are missing a beat.
And they really suck. lol
Nice to see you,

Tyrie said...

You've got to take a break - just a day or so - away from the novel and give your mind a chance to rest. However, you can replace writing for the day with another activity that stimulates your creativity (for me, it's playing guitar or going for a day at the park). Then, come back the next day refreshed and start again. It will pass ;)

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

Sounds to me like you're suffering from critique burn out, especially if you're still enjoying your book. Stay with your passion, learn what you can from the critiques, and eventually you'll find your middle ground. :)

Cort Ellyn said...

Wow, thanks, everyone!

Critique burn out ... yes, that's an enormous part of it. Certainly started all this, I'm afraid. While the critiques are soooo necessary, they do get stifling. Better to back off and regroup and learn to trust myself with what those critiques have taught me.

Thanks again, all!

Milo James Fowler said...

What Tyrie said, mos def. It works for me.

Cort Ellyn said...

Unfortunately the day-long break isn't working. Done that repeatedly to no avail. I think I could quit for a month, with little refreshment. Does that mean EXTREME burn-out? Ah, to hell with it. Keep writing. It'll come back sooner or later. I think when I started getting stories published after so many years of trying that my brain finally said, "Goal accomplished. Can I take a vacation now?" No! I said. But I don't think it listened and moved to Pluto. *drumming fingers* I'm still waiting on a postcard...

JJ Beazley said...

A good reason why I have no truck at all with writers' workshops, forums, beta readers (!!!) or critique groups. Whenever I hear about any of those, I think two words: Emily Bronte.

But why feel pressured to write anyway? If I don't feel like writing, I don't write. It isn't a problem. Do you make your living from it?

Anonymous said...

I really sympathize with what you mean about the critques and all. While I still offer my stuff up for criticism, I've come to understand a lot more of why many people crit in the ways they do, and to understand that there is constructive and destructive criticism, but also RE-constructive criticism which is perhaps the worst. Destructive criticism is easy to dismiss, usually. Re-constructive criticism, where someone tries to essentially tell you to completely change your style or the nature of the story can create a lot of self doubt. As you say, critiques are invaluable but its also invaluable to realize that many people can't set aside their personal tastes when they crit and in order to enjoy telling your stories you must tell YOUR stories, not theirs.