Five #IllyTips To Avoid Writer’s Burnout

Burnout. Last week I had a moment of shame when I realised that I let my fatigue and irritation influence a blog post. Not to say that I shouldn’t have felt these things. I have every right to; I’m a busy mum who also happens to be ill.
But I should – and here’s where I let myself down – be able to manage my time, personal expectations and writing in a manner that doesn’t make me poorly (or enhance existing problems) and therefore adversely affect what I do here.

I know I’m not alone in that.

Many people I’ve talked to in various places have had days of burnout, the results of which can last hours, days, weeks, months, even years. The last time I treated myself so badly I had to take a month off blogging to recover. I don’t want to have to go that again, nor do I want you to suffer the same what I have/am currently. So… here are my five steps all based on my experience over the last few weeks.

Be realistic about your goals

goal shooting goals from open clip artGoals are important. They structure your work, guide you and make sure that you don’t waste valuable time in things that are of no help to you. But they’re a double edged sword. They can make you fearful and/or stressed. They can make you look only at what you haven’t achieved instead of the wonderful things you have.
You have a busy life. Fine, we all do. That’s all the more reason to really look at your life and be honest with yourself about what you can and can’t do.

Transfer half a novel’s worth of edits back to digital in a week? Yes… some folk could do that. I did manage to do that, but only at a detriment to my health, with too many late nights and early (more so than usual) mornings. In additional, none of my background admin work as a writer got done.

Be honest. Be brutal. It’s the best way to be kind and, as a result, a hell of a lot more productive.

Ask for help

help message in a bottle

Credit: Tomk32

I suck at this one. My friends and family will agree.
Need to pop to the shops, but can’t because I’m at home alone with the boys sleeping in their beds? Don’t fret about it, Illy, ask Dave to bring something on his way back.
Need an extra hour one day to work on a time sensitive article? You have friends and extended family quite literally one street away; ask them to watch the boys for an hour. The worse they can say is no.

Ask. For. Help.
I can’t stress this enough. None of us are immortal or super human. We can’t do everything alone, no matter how much we might want to.

Take time for you

Meditating woman, lotus pose, yoga, buddhist

Credit: qubodup

All work and no play makes Illy a sick, whiny and anti productive girl.

Hell yes it does.

Last week I took a ‘week off.’ I still worked, but only here and there. The days I did do some editing, or tweaking or writing, were amazing because I came to them with a fresh head that wasn’t still leaking panicked thoughts from the day before.
And around those things I watched films, cooked recreationally, played with my boys in the park. All activities that reminded me of why I’m doing this in the first place.
And that’s also important to remember.
I’m doing this for my family. Not just because I love writing, but because if I can eventually get to a stage where I can comfortably pay a bill or two with my writing, then I can spend more time with my family. Watch my boys grow. Enjoy time with Dave. But I won’t be able to do any of that if I have a nervous break down first.

Puts it in perspective, right?

Don’t sweat the impossible stuff

a bunch of impossible objects (kinda cool)

Credit: Craftsmanspace

There is a hell of a lot we can control. Doesn’t feel like it, but it’s true. However there is waaaaaaaaay more stuff that we can’t. Unfortunately for me, that’s the stuff I worry about most, which is dumb because, really, what can I do about it? Nothing. So what use is there in me worrying about it? Crap all.
Apply this to yourself; pick out the things that stress you out and see if they are actually things you can change.  If so, great! Do so… you’ll feel better for it. If not? Put them to one side, draw a line under them and let the Universe worry about them because you sure as hell can’t make any difference. Apply your time and energy to things that will benefit from it.

Yes… I know it’s easier said than done, but you owe it to yourself to try.


a person sleeping in bed

Credit: liftarn

Last week I promised myself I’d be in bed by 10pm every night. It didn’t work every night, but those in which I managed to slip between the covers at that sort of time were heavenly. I thought I’d toss and turn until midnight, but I didn’t. I passed right the hell out and woke up maybe one or twice to turn over. And in the mornings which followed I didn’t beg the Universe to give me an extra hour in bed. I wanted it – I’m lazy, remember? – but I didn’t need it.That made an incredible difference to the rest of my week.

So there you are. My five tips.

Now, I know it’s Monday today and that’s usually a goal day. It still is, but I realised some time in the week that just reading through what I want to do with my week might well be boring for you guys. VERY useful for me, not you.

So the new format of my Monday posts will be

  1. Something for you; Illy Tips, links, competition notices or reviews
  2. Round up of the last week’s goals
  3. Thoughts on the upcoming week’s goals

That way, if you’re not interested in my working week; you can read to the end of section one and then skip off and enjoy your day. :p Hope that works for you.


Last Week

Recover. I did it to myself, but I need to spend some time being calm and taking care of myself. Reading. Catching up on my writing magazines.
Done. And it really was worth it. I still got work done, but I also managed to spend time on me. Wonderful!

I’m still ill, mind you. I spend chunks of yesterday at A&E, sobbing at the out of hours doctor, but that’s more about the silly stuff my body is doing with certain foods, rather than over fatigue and burn out. So thumbs up!

This week

  • Continue to rest. I’m nowhere near 100%, not even 60%, so concentrate, if I must, on easy activities like:
    1. Reading through left over magazines
    2. Actually reading some of the blogs I follow
    3. Chatting on Twitter
    4. Chatting on Facebook
    5. Planning future blog posts

All things that don’t feel like ‘work’ but are essential in understanding the changing market, building my brand and marketing.

If I have time for it, yes, I can do some more transferring of my notes. But, as I mentioned in the comment stream of last week’s post; I’ve found a major structural issue which needs to be addressed before I can send the story to betas. And that certainly means that the initial estimate of March 1 is way off.


Can’t be helped. Don’t sweat the impossible stuff.
Move on.
I can fix it, just need to spend the time doing it.

Peace out, guys. Hope you have a good week and, my tips are of some use to you.
new ileandra signature,

About Ileandra Young

I'm a thirty-*mumbles* year old (purple loving, cheese worshipping) author of fantasy, juggling a pair of beautiful twin boys with my burning desire to make up stories and write them all down. When I get the chance, I play games, listen to music, and in days long past I even ran a radio show. Though I occasionally write non-fiction, my heart lives in fantasy and my debut novel, Silk Over Razor Blades is now available through Amazon along with part two of the trilogy, Walking The Razor's Edge.
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4 Responses to Five #IllyTips To Avoid Writer’s Burnout

  1. Yes. Really yes. I’ve come to realise on my own that illness means that I need to rest and relax, but I’m not always good at listening to what I need. It’s easier to hear it from someone else.

    As long as you keep sight of your goals and can find reasons to be excited about achieving them, it doesn’t matter that you need to take an extra week or month or three months to get there. You know that you can get there, with a bit of perseverance.

    And you know, maybe you want to consider the time that you spend unwinding and chilling out as preparation for the work you want to do. Inner peace is a lovely goal to have and to achieve.


    • I think that’s a helpful way of looking at it. Convincing myself that the ‘chilling out’ part is in fact necessary rather than a waste of time is tricky, but you’re right. It really IS prep for the rest of the day.
      And I suck at taking my own advice, so, no doubt in another few months I’ll be writing another post about how rubbish I am. :p


  2. jmmcdowell says:

    “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” Truer words were never spoken, but putting the concept into practice? Nearly impossible for some of us! I’m always worrying about thing over which I have no control—or are totally unimportant in the grand scheme of things. I wish I could wave a magic wand and “fix” that side of me.

    Setting goals can be an exhilarating feeling—aha, we’re on our way! But as in exercise or other arenas, that initial rush can quickly fade. Finding the second wind and the right pace for a marathon takes more time. I think you’re finding your way to that sustainable pace that will let you accomplish your goals.


    • Yep, so far so good. And relaxing has led to me being more productive, which is incredible.
      I still have days when I worry about everything, but I’m starting to think it’s natural. Just so long as it doesn’t consume you….

      That’s the balance I guess.


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