I don't think I'm there yet, but I'm smelling smoke. I'm not myself these days. That is to say I'm not the same bottomless pit of energy and focus that I've been for the past several years running. Twelve years to be exact. I've worked very hard to get to where I am in my writing career and I'm not even halfway to where I want to be. I don't want to admit that I'm tired, because I can't afford to be tired. I'm hoping this current lack of energy and focus is a temporary glitch. My creative side catching its breath. Maybe it's a wake up call. Readjust your mindset or you will burn out.
This morning, while googling my symptons in search of answers, I ran across an article by author, Barbara Bretton. She talks frankly about her own professional burnout and recovery. Like I said, I'm not there yet, but I saw a lot of me in her account.
"By identifying myself solely as a writer, I had effectively cut myself off from new experiences and old pleasures and as a result the creative well had run dry. For years I had done nothing but write, talk about writing, think about writing. I'd mastered the art of saying no to invitations from friends and after awhile those invitations stopped coming...and I never even noticed.
In the name of professional responsibility I'd narrowed my world down to the point where there was nothing but me and my computer and a never-ending banner of deadlines waving in the breeze."
Oh, boy. I'm so close to that I can smell it. But even as I acknowledge the danger of drying up from lack of refilling the creative well, to ease back on my schedule, my expectations, smacks of 'not trying hard enough'. Of 'losing the grip on my dream.' Realistically, something inside of me isn't allowing me to cut me some slack. Being creative is draining. Even more so, being creative on demand. I don't think I ever thought of it in those terms. Ms. Bretton put it beautifully.
"Being creative on demand is tougher than digging ditches for a living and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. We're incredibly lucky to be able to earn a good living doing what we love most in this world but being creative on demand takes its toll.
What we're actually doing is imposing left brain restrictions on right brain activities, the psychological equivalent of patting your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time. In an ideal world, the writing of a novel would determine its own schedule, the characters and plot would set their own pace.
Unfortunately we don't live in a perfect world. We live in a world of deadlines and due dates and expectations, and if we want to carve a place for ourselves in publishing, a place that will last, we have to learn to make the creative side of ourselves coexist with the professional. The secret to longevity as a writer is found in the balance between the two."
For an inspiring and enlightening read, check out this entire article. Special thanks to Ms. Bretton on sharing her story. I'm bookmarking it in my effort to avoid burnout. If you don't see me here daily, as is my norm, it's because I'm off finding balance. *g*