Monday, November 10, 2014

The Reset Button

Do you like this? I made it myself! You didn't know I was so talented, did you?
As of Sunday evening, my NaNo word count is 17,000! I am honestly stoked...this is the most writing I've put out in quite a long time.

However, one thing I've noticed is that over the last three days, I have been experiencing major creative burnout.  If it weren't for the deadline hanging over my head, I probably wouldn't have gotten anything done at all.

In the past, even while not doing NaNo, I have suffered from this burnout. It’s something like you’re bored, or just uninspired, and every word you type feels useless and stupid.  I remember mentioning my burnout on my favorite writer’s forum a couple years ago, and someone said, “Maybe you need to write something else for a while.”  Of course, I didn’t want to write something else, and I stubbornly held out—as a result, I got almost nothing written. 

Well, then I started writing just fun, frivolous projects that had nothing to do with anything in my novel, and I got really absorbed in those for the better part of a year.  I have found that in doing that, I sort of hit a ‘reset’ button that allowed me to get into NaNo in the first place.  NaNo has actually made me excited about my story arc again. 

The writer’s mind, I think, like a messed up electronic device, needs to have a reset button.  Obviously, in the writer’s case, this does not erase all information.  Instead, it gives the mind a break.
So, when I started to feel burned out this weekend, I figured that I needed to hit the reset button.  I knew I had a deadline, so I knew that I couldn’t just keep hitting it, like hitting a snooze button on your alarm repeatedly during finals week.  So I gave my mind two hours or so to be creative in other ways.  I thought about my frivolous writing projects.  I engaged a totally separate part of the creative mind by playing my guitar. I got some exercise.  I took a nap.  I worked on a blog post (not this one, actually). 

It made going back to my novel so much easier.  I mean, way easier.  I was able to defeat my burnout.  It did make me wish that I hadn’t hit the reset button so much over the past year, but maybe it was something I really needed.

Don’t be afraid to hit ‘reset.’ It’s not as if your writing project is going to think you are cheating on it. Creativity fuels creativity—so while not be creative in a different way for a little while?

Do you think that it's counter-intuitive to do something else in order to finish your writing project? Share any thoughts you might have in the comments. 

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  1. This was exactly the advice I needed today. This morning I wrote all of two sentences; I was checking my email and found this post. After a few hours of raking up pine needles, thinking through some background ideas, and watching a cartoon with my little sisters, I am back and ready to hit the laptop!

    1. I'm glad I could help! That's what this blog is here for. :)

    2. No kidding! I got 4,127 words written just on that day alone! Luckily, that gives me quite a bit of leeway for today as well. So thanks again! :)