Avoid Writing Burnout
Set a reasonable and realistic expectation for yourself
Due to work, family, and other hobbies, I haven’t been able to go “all in” on writing for Medium. That’s not to say I haven’t tried. In my early stages of writing on this platform, I wanted to hit it big and rake in boatloads of money from the words and stories I produced. At one point, I tried hammering out two or three articles a day, but this didn’t last long because of other obligations: my family, a full-time teaching job, coaching, and simply life in general.
Looking back, I know in my heart that I will never make thousands of dollars a month on Medium — the statistics aren’t in my favor. Once I accepted this simple fact and stopped filling my increasingly-bleak existence with unnecessary stress, it all became a whole lot easier. Everything brightened up again, and words were easier to come by. I was able to find inspiration in the ordinary again.
What happened to me was simple: I set an unrealistic expectation for myself. I had backed myself into a corner that I never should have been in the first place. No matter how hard I tried, the goal I created wasn’t being reached. I wanted to be able to conjure up multiple stories a day, yet there was no feasible way for me to do this. I almost always ran out of time.
It’s true, there happens to be a talented group of Medium writers (magicians, perhaps?) who are able to do this on a routine basis — and I tip my hat respectfully to them in sheer awe — but I am not in their company.
After I tried and failed repeatedly to accomplish this feat, I was spent — burnt. I was the dying ember in a once-raging fire.
I almost called it quits.
Instead of bidding Medium a fond farewell, I decided to tone it back a bit. I chose to do the responsible thing: take a deep breath, assess the situation, and make an adjustment.
It became clear to me that the burden I created for myself was dragging me down. I was being pulled through the mud by some unrelenting force. When I decided to change my approach and alter my goal, the proverbial weight on my shoulders vanished. (I suppose the mud did, too.)
I decided to write some shorter fictional pieces, stick my toes in the water of the poetry pool, and write more nonfiction-based stories when inspiration struck. I also became motivated to tackle one of my book-length projects that had been sitting untouched on my desktop for over a couple months — since my discovery of Medium.
How did this happen?
I set a reasonable, realistic goal that worked for my individual pursuits: write when time allows. I also didn’t let the concept of making money drive me off a cliff.
I think I had a bit of an epiphany, too. I dislike using the term, but in my scenario, I believe it to be true. I ended up going back to my roots, my reasons for writing in the first place: I love doing it.
Isn’t that the point?
In the end I took away a valuable lesson, and I learned my limits. If you feel like you are reaching a similar place, take a moment to reflect. Your writing — and the joy the process brings you — should never be sacrificed.
Justin Deming lives and teaches in the Hudson Valley region of New York. His fiction has appeared in 50-Word Stories, Ripples in Space, Spelk, and is forthcoming in Flash Fiction Magazine and Frontier Tales. He can be found on Twitter @j_deming_.