Burnout happens to everyone, even artists. In fact, quite often creative work can drain you energetically and emotionally. You may feel like you just don’t have anything left to give.
The words don’t flow onto the paper, your characters are vanishing from your imagination, and you don’t feel the same joy that you originally felt when you sat down to write. These are all signs that you need a creative break. There are more, and I’ll cover them in a bit, but first, let’s talk about what a creative break really means.
As a writer a creative break can be:
- A weeklong vacation (or staycation) as long as you don’t write.
- A different creative project. You might redecorate a room in your home, take a painting class or learn to blow glass. You’re expressing yourself creatively, but you’re not writing.
- A long weekend where you plant a garden, take back-to-back yoga classes, or go on a girls weekend with your sisters, daughters, or friends.
- A hike in the woods.
- A lunch with a friend or a loved one.
You get the point. A creative break can be anything that allows you to focus on something else that brings you joy or puts a smile on your face. It should be completely disconnected from your existing writing project. For example, a critique group meeting is not a creative break. A trip to Vegas is. A research trip to Vegas to learn where your heroine might find her hero is not a creative break, a hot yoga class or an overnight camping trip is.
Why We Need Creative Breaks
Back to that question of burnout. While I’m an avid believer in writing every day, there need to be exceptions to that rule. You need to be able to say, “I’m taking a break.” This gives you freedom and permission to set your project aside – to recharge your creative juices and to renew your passion and joy. Like a rechargeable battery, you cannot continue to work at the same intensity all the time. Eventually, you need to stop working and take time to rejuvenate.
Back to Signs that You Need a Creative Break
- You’ve been staring at the same paragraph, page, or chapter for too long.
- You’ve forgotten the last time you did anything else for fun.
- Your family has forgotten your name.
- You’re not sleeping well.
- You can’t stop thinking about your project (and not in a good way)
- You’ve stopped taking care of yourself.
- You’re getting sick more often than you should.
- You’re stressed and losing enthusiasm for your writing.
Taking a creative break isn’t a sign of weakness, quite the opposite. Knowing yourself, your creative personality, and acknowledging your needs is quite powerful. As an artist and a romance writer, you owe it to yourself to take care of your creative spirit and to protect your energy. If you feel like you’re on the road to burnout, set your project aside – just for a little while. Go do something fun, something that fuels your spirit in a different way.