Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Battling burnout

Burnout is real for authors. I know this. 

This article on burnout struck home with me. I don't write a book every two months, but I've noticed over the past year that I've slowed down to the point where I am dragging. Once I ran a race and now I am slogging through mud, or so it feels when it comes to writing. 

 I returned to full-time work in May after being part-time for three years. Another writer resigned and while my employers were searching for her replacement, they asked me to return to FT. And so I did, and with those increased hours came the responsibility of traveling to poor countries once more. Of course it also came with more money since I was working more hours, which was also good since my book income hasn't been what it was back in 2012.

Since my work situation changed and I no longer get benefits, when I don't work I don't get paid. We took a much-needed two week vacation the end of July. Preparing for that vacation was like readying a castle for a siege. One of our dogs has renal failure, so it meant preparing her medications, home-cooked meals and finding enough people to care for Holly in our home. 

It was a wonderful vacation, and I started a new story while there - Wild Wolf, another Werewolves of Montana story. The itch to create burned inside me. I wrote in the car, while sitting outside our rental home in North Carolina, and on the deck of our bed and breakfast in TN. It felt freeing!

But soon as we returned home, the regular routine of responsiblities resumed. Laundry, housework, grocery shopping, caring for the dogs, and going back to the day job. Hubs helps with chores. Every day at 5 a.m. he gives sub Q fluids and meds to our Holly, our renal pup. It's a huge responsibility to care for a sick dog. 

I worked crazy hours upon my return that first week to make up for the fact that I was out for two weeks. In one week, I logged nearly 50 hours at the day job. I would get into work around 7:30 and leave at 6:30. 

I came home, gulped down dinner, watched TV for an hour and cuddled with hubs and doggies for an hour, and then crashed. Then it was up at 4 a.m. all over again (hubs works in a hospital and rises at 4 a.m. each day). 

Two weeks after vacation, I was in Haiti for the day job. This time I worked 60 hours in the field - standing in the hot sun interviewing poor families, long drives in the back of a pickup as we were squashed like sardines. It was exhausting. 

Last week, my first week back, I worked about 40 hours in four days.  We both took Friday off and went to the west coast for a weekend away to celebrate hubs' birthday, taking the dogs with us. Again, it was like packing for a month away.

When we returned Sunday, we weren't refreshed, but exhausted all over again. While on the west coast, hubs went shopping so I could write. This is our usual routine when we go away to the west coast. 

But instead of my fingers flying over the keyboard, I slogged. Goal was to write 3,000 words on Wild Wolf. I barely made it to 1,000 words. This was a story I had planned to write only 25,000 words on and I now have 27,000 words. It will be around 32,000 by the time I finish. 

While we were gone, my new reverse harem story released. I didn't have time to promote it as I should and it's slogging in sales as much as I am slogging in energy. 

I'm burned out and it shows. 

I have another, contracted deadline to meet. I have a book due for Harlequin in two months. I've been trying to figure out a writing schedule to meet that deadline. I love the book and I'm looking forward to writing it, but I also know me, my body, my energy.

I need a break before I burn out. I've been on the gerbil wheel going faster and faster and it's dizzying!

The good news is that I am back to PT at work. I'm looking forward to Friday, when I can rest. Perhaps plans will include a half day of filling the well by walking on the beach before it gets to 98 degrees, or reading a book, or working in the garden. I don't know yet. 

I do know this. I have to watch myself from burning out before it's too late to recover. 

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