Out of Steam but Still Writing

exhausted runner, exhausted writer, burnt out writerThese past few days had been grueling for me. I did what so many freelance writers do: I took on too much work and am now paying the price for it. For those of you out there who think that writing isn’t hard work, think again. There is a reason why everybody is not a writer! Some people are actually more clever than that.

So I took on a freelance writing gig that didn’t pay too well. But since they were only going to send me work that should keep me busy about two hours a day, I didn’t mind. I could still take on other, better paying jobs to fill up the rest of my day as well as my pocket. Was I wrong!

I’m one of those people who really struggle saying no. So when the work started streaming in, I thought I could tough it out and just kept writing. Two hours became six, then six became eight. Meanwhile, because I have bills to pay, I still kept up with my other, better paying assignments as well. I ended up writing at least twelve hours a day. Some days I didn’t even allow myself a break to have lunch.

Soon, not only my mind but also my body started paying the price. I did not make time for exercise anymore, so I was stuck in front of my computer all day, typing away. I started waking up in the morning, my body tired and aching. And my mind started feeling numb, churning out senseless words that made less sense to me than a speech in the Japanese Parliament. I had hit a wall, ran out of steam and had nothing more to give.

I came upon an article written by Cinthia Ritchie about hitting a wall in a marathon. She compared it to hitting that writing wall. Her article had some great advice that I solemnly vow to follow. One that she didn’t mention but that I’m going to try, is to start saying no when people start treating me like a writing mill who can just churn out words on demand. I’m a writer and I’m good at it. But to be able to do it, I need to treat myself, my body and my mind with more respect.

Here are some of the tips Cinthia gave in her article for writers who have hit the wall:

  1. Find a schedule that works for you and stick with it.
  2. Prepare for you writing by doing proper research.
  3. Write even when you don’t feel like it. Writing is hard work and some days it is just work.
  4. Break into new markets by attending conferences, cold calling, etc.
  5. Fuel your writing with the right balance.
  6. Halfway through you will hit a wall and run out of ideas, quotes and things to say. Suck it up and keep writing.
  7. Finish strong. Strive to finish your writing with a burst of lyricism.
  8. Take time to recover. Take a walk, read a book or make time for lunch with a friend.

I have no burst of lyricism to finish off with but I leave you with this thought: whatever you do, make time to feed your mind, your body and your soul. After all, you are only human.

About Elmarie

Elmarie Porthouse is a freelance writer who specializes in ghost-writing content for websites. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.
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3 Responses to Out of Steam but Still Writing

  1. Scout around a little and find some writers who are qualified and are looking for work. Then you can avoid the negative response with a positive list of recommendations and go out to lunch with your friends.

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