Burn Out!

WOW! Never thought it would happen to me, but it did! Burn out!! Not from writing  —  from   L-I-F-E…

No, I’m not being suicidal. I’m being tired! Full time job outside of the house, full time writing career, full time mother, full time wife, owner of 2 small businesses, writing for 4 or 5 different blogs (I’ve lost count LOL!)… Does it ever end??? Whew! I need a vacation and FAST!

In all honesty, I do this to myself all the time. I have a disease that doesn’t allow my mouth to say “no” and doesn’t allow my mind to ever close from its creative activities. There is always some idea that comes to mind that will help me in my life. But with a new idea always comes new tasks to add to an already too full plate.

And it’s CampNaNo June, which I am determined to win. I think that is what is really making me feel burned out. The pressure of writing 50,000 words in a month. Now, I am absolutely certain that I write 50k words in a month with no problem. No doubt about it. I have to — writing for several blogs, working on my manuscripts, and writing poetry. But the pressure that is on now is writing 50k words in one manuscript all in one month’s time. Yeah I write 50k words in a month, but never on one subject or in one manuscript…

Burn out.

I know it’s from sheer overwhelm. I work at my peak when I have too many tasks on my plate. My subconscious mind, however, keeps reminding me that I am 2 days and 505 words behind not counting the words for today. The day is still young so I can’t count that as “behind” unless I don’t write any more today. That puts me at 3,839 words behind. But what makes it worse is that I am at a particularly difficult part of the manuscript. It’s a memoir, so in this section I am talking a lot about my mother and father who are both deceased. The memories are good ones, but the fact that they are no longer here is what’s making the writing difficult. I am nearly 4,000 words behind! I don’t need this kind of difficulty in writing right now…

So, what do I do to circumvent this burn out? I wrote 1,162 words this morning and then ended the chapter. Those 1,162 words are what made me less than 3 days behind. I couldn’t bare to write any more about mom and dad…not right now. It was making the writing laborious. This is the very first, clunky draft anyway. I can always go back during the editing phase and add in whatever I need to enhance that chapter. If I continued to try writing in that chapter today, I would not get any writing done.

I have read many authors who do the same thing. Either finish the chapter off quickly, knowing they have to edit the manuscript anyway, or start writing a different scene or section of the book and come back to the difficult writing later. Because I am a pantser, there’s no way I can write a different scene or section and come back. I haven’t done any planning or outlining so I don’t know what the future scenes and sections will hold. I could always have gone off and worked on some poetry or maybe one of my other manuscripts; but I know me, I would never get back to writing this one… For the next 24 days I need to stay focused on writing this one manuscript. I want to win CampNaNo and I want to have a completed, clunky first draft in my grubby little paws by June 30th. If I don’t stick to deadlines, I will never get this book written and published!

Some writers take a break from writing when they hit a difficult patch, either by writing something else or walking away from writing altogether. Oooo, that would be a book killer for me! I would never want to return to writing that manuscript knowing where in the manuscript I had left off. Walking away at the difficult part for me would ensure that I would never return to finish writing. And I definitely would not return from writing something else, something less emotional. However, some authors have what it takes to walk away and come back later. I just am not cut from that part of the cloth…

Whatever you do, as always, you need to keep writing!

Time to share…
What do you do when you are burned out from so much going on, including your writing? How does writing sensitive passages affect your writing ability? What do you do when burn out begins to sabotage your writing practice? 

Writing Memoirs

I receive an e-mail newsletter from the National Association of Memoir Writers. This is a great organization and site for memoir writers all over the world. It is a wealth of information, webinars and classes, as well as one-on-one coaching.

In the May 28th copy of the NAMW newsletter, it listed six questions that memoir writers ask:

The top six questions that memoir writers ask–and some answers.

  • ·         “Where do I start?” Start with a compelling story that you HAVE to write. List 5 more stories and write them one by one.
  • ·         “What do I include?” In your first draft, write everything that is on your mind. Remember, this is not your published version and you don’t have to show it to anyone.
  • ·         “Should I just copy my journals?” You can draw upon your journal but a memoir is a story. Learn the fictional tools that will help you write a compelling story.
  • ·         “What makes my life interesting to other people?” All of us worry about this, but the good news is that no one has lived your life, or understands being you and living on the planet the way you have. Everyone’s life is interesting to other people. Writing a great story makes it interesting.
  • ·         “Do I have to write a whole book?” (Gasp.) No. Write one story at a time. Just one.
·         “What will my family say?” Tell them you’re writing fiction. Don’t share your most vulnerable stories hoping they will understand you suddenly. Treat your writing like a tender plant in the garden.”

Oftentimes memoir writers worry about their content because of the personal nature of the subject matter. They worry about offending people in their lives who their stories may brush upon or talk about in detail. Our United States Constitution has given us the right to free speech. Speak freely about whatever topic you choose without worrying about hurting someone’s feelings. Everything you write will never be accepted by every person who reads it — whether the person is intricate to the story or a stranger reading the story. As long as you are not writing untruths about the individual or the situation the individual was party to, then there’s nothing you need to worry about.

Not everyone is going to like every story or book we write. There are too many obstacles in a writer’s path to “published” to let the feelings of others hinder you from writing. If you are able to:

  1. Write the truth, without sensationalizing it.
  2. Give facts and details.
  3. Speak from the heart in a non-vicious manner.

then you are able to write a memoir that you can hold your head high about and be proud of. You have not lied. You have provided great detail and all of the facts in the story. You are speaking from a storytelling perspective, free of thoughts of “pay back” or vindictiveness or seeking revenge. If someone’s feelings are hurt or you offend in your storytelling, you will know that your intent was to do neither. Your intent was to share with the world your story, from your perspective. No two people will have the same perspective and what you may see as the events of the story may be related by another party to the events in a totally different manner.

So, take a deep breath, relax, and write. It is your story. Your way. From your perspective. Remember that and know that you did not set out to anger anyone. My favorite quote from a very famous author:

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.
Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss)