Burnout – When There is Nothing Left

In 2019, I finished a very intense ghostwriting project then had spinal surgery with a long recovery. Four months later, I nearly died with a twisted colon. A surgeon saved my life with hours to spare. Yes, 2019 was a rough year.

I sat down to write in 2020 and nothing. Crickets. Actually, fleas on crickets. Not only were words not working and playing well in my playhouse, but I couldn’t put thoughts together. You all remember 2020, right? I think a lot of us went through a rough time. But one day, the only thought that came to mind was, “I want all of this to be done. I’m done.” That thought scared me right to a doctor who discovered my serotonin levels were in the critical range. Two surgeries with complicated recoveries and working in health care during a pandemic dried up any creative juice in my body.
I was in total burnout.
To avoid this, we can take an example from farmers – crop rotation. No, I haven’t adjusted my meds, keep reading. Crop rotation is a farming technique that involves planting different crops in a particular field each season to improve soil health, increase yields, and control pests and diseases. The practice is based on the principle of not planting the same crop in the same field year after year, as this depletes the soil of nutrients, increases weed growth, and creates a favorable environment for pests and diseases to thrive.
The same should be done with our creative natures. To keep our creative soil healthy and yielding an abundance of content, we need to change it up occasionally. Do you only write fiction? Then dabble in non-fiction. How, you ask? For such a serious question, we must go to Google, the internet version of God. Google “writing prompts for non-fiction.” Wala! You just found a few subjects you can try your hand writing about. It doesn’t have to be amazing or contest worthy. It just needs to feed your creative soil.
Are you allergic to writing non-fiction? Then pick a totally different fiction genre and try your hand at something new! You never know, you might be the next Orson Welles or Agatha Christie (now I’m dating myself). The point is to rotate your creative soil and give it new nutrients.

But, Dana, I’m a business owner, not a writer.” The same rule applies. To prevent burnout in your business, here are a few tips:

  1. Change up your schedule. Or if you don’t have one, create one! Create space for personal time.

  2. Set boundaries. Setting boundaries will help prevent compromise.

  3. Unplug once (or twice) a week. This is a must. Even if it is just to stare at Netflix once a week (I just tattled on myself).

  4. Build your network. Being surrounded by like-minded business owners will feed you intellectually. Joining a local networking group for businesses is a great idea!

  5. Rely on others. You don’t need to carry your business burdens alone. How about delegate to others or freelancers. Consider hiring a VA! (Insert shameless business plug here). 

Take a tip from me. It took almost three years to gain any semblance of my former writing self! Be proactive to PREVENT burnout and it will pay off later.