Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Writer Burnout by Elaine Marie Cooper

I used to think that healthcare workers and first responders were the main victims of burnout. Too many work hours, too little sleep, often eating poorly—that, along with the stress of dealing with people’s lives. It never occurred to me that becoming a writer could lead a person to similar stressors that can result in both physical and emotional symptoms. It could even prompt a word crafter to throw in the towel and say, “Enough! I’m finished writing.”

If you think about the writing life, it sounds so peaceful. Sipping on tea at your desk with a forest view out your window, the words of inspiration flowing through your fingers. Endless calm and creativity, while royalty checks arrive in the mail daily.

If you’ve been a writer for any length of time, you are rolling your eyes at this description. We all know the writing life is far from this.

The reality is, it’s hard work. Anyone who is serious about writing, whether books, magazines, newspapers, or any other outlet for communication, knows that a writer has more than a few struggles to overcome.

Demanding work hours
Many writers do not make a living from their projects and work a “day job.” This means you might be squeezing in those creative moments in the evening or on the weekends. This can lead to nonstop work.

Not enough sleep
If you are essentially working two jobs, you are likely somewhat sleep deprived. The effects of sleep deprivation include weakening your immune system, exhausting your eye muscles, and impacting your mood and emotions.

Eating poorly
Let’s face it, long hours at a keyboard is hardly conducive to inciting enthusiasm for cooking. You just want to eat and you need it quickly so you can get back to work. Fast food will do. But several nights a week?

It impacts family
It’s hard to reason with a two-year-old who wants to play with mommy but she can’t because she has a deadline. Or with a teenager who needs dad to have the sex talk with him tonight but dad’s going to a writer’s conference and needs to create a book proposal.  Or a spouse who really wants to be with you tonight instead of going to bed alone.

Deadlines, writer’s conferences, and book proposals are the stuff of reality for those called to write. But if these demands begin to take over our very lives and relationships, perhaps we need to re-evaluate our schedules. Perhaps we need to pace our lives a bit and prioritize time off with the people who love us. Perhaps we need to pick and choose our obligations, before they overtake our lives.

Sometimes we need to say “no” to a writing project, and say “yes” to healthier living. 

"...if these demands begin to take over our very lives and relationships, perhaps we need to re-evaluate our schedules." via @elainemcooper #SeriouslyWrite


Elaine Marie Cooper has two historical fiction books that recently released: War’s Respite (Prequel novella) and Love’s Kindling.Love’s Kindling is available in both e-book and paperback. They are the first two books in the Dawn of America Series set in Revolutionary War Connecticut. Cooper is the award-winning author of Fields of the Fatherless and Bethany’s Calendar. Her 2016 release (Saratoga Letters) was finalist in Historical Romance in both the Selah Awards and Next Generation Indie Book Awards. She penned the three-book Deer Run Saga and has been published in numerous magazines and anthologies. You can visit her website/ blog at


  1. Replies
    1. As in everything in life, it's a balance. But it's so easy to get in over our heads before we know it, especially when at the core, we love what we do. Thanks for stopping by, Joy!

  2. Great post, Elaine! Right now the required social media work is the part of my writer life that I've cutting back on. It's so essential, but it can also rob us of precious time for contemplation and family interaction. When we started out, most of us never dreamed this would be part of writer life. Occasionally, we just need to take a hiatus.

    1. I hear you, Melinda. It can become a time sucker for sure! Some writers who are quite successful at managing it, discipline themselves to one-hour of social media, one hour of emails, etc. Sometimes it takes such strict self-imposed guidelines to help us accomplish what we need to, including seeing to the needs of our families. We all have to pray for wisdom and frequently, reassess our time management. It is a struggle. And yes, I never imagined the extant of time involved in promoting our books. I just thought I'd be writing! LOL!!

    2. You're right, Melinda. I've been cutting back on social media, mainly FB. I'd rather spend time with my family and write than scroll through all of the nonsense. :)

  3. I’m definitely rolling my eyes with you, Elaine. Working a full-time day job along with writing and helping out my aging parents leaves me with little time for things I’d like to do. I’ve had to learn how to say “no” which has helped. Great post!
    PS I used a different browser over here and got the option to log in with Google.

    1. Thank you, Jill. I see friends overwhelmed some times and think, "Does it have to be this way?" Then I think, "No, we all make choices and sometimes we all have to re-evaluate them." It's so hard when we LOVE writing and want to utilize every opportunity. That's when praying for wisdom is essential. Thanks so much for stopping by!


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