January 30, 2015

Battling Burnout ~ 10 Tips for Overcoming Writer’s Block

By Emily T. Wierenga

I pin the colored fabric as though savoring a mango, this slice of time so sweet, and the sounds of children splashing in the pool. And all I want is to rest. To open wide this moment and step into it, to sit on a beach chair and hold my babies and breathe in their skin, and funny how, once you get what you want, all you can think about is the other.

But I am learning to write, in spite of myself because I want to honor the call. I don’t want to miss out on my children nor the man I made them with. Sometimes though, I’m just plain worn out. I don’t have any more words in me.

How do we balance the laptop with the laundry and the liturgy; still our souls in a world that never sleeps?

To know God, in the stillness there has to be less of us and more of him. Sometimes we think we have to produce when really, we’re slaves to no one. Christ calls us friends, and there is freedom in this. We serve God alone, and have nothing to fear. So, when we’re burning out, we need to quiet our souls.

Here are 10 ways to find that stillness:
1.     Turn off the laptop. I have made a habit of turning it off for the entire morning and spending those hours with my preschoolers. By noon, I’m normally more than excited to begin writing.
2.     Cry, and laugh, a lot. Experience that ALIVE feeling again. Remember: “Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a (poor) first draft.
3.     Read. Whether it’s a novel or a memoir or the Psalms in your pajamas
4.     Take a bath with some Epsom salts and a candle.
5.     Eat some dark chocolate. And then eat some more.
6.     Write a letter to someone you trust.
7.     Surround yourself with inspiration. My friend constantly mails me encouraging quotes and artwork; I have posted these quotes and pieces of art above my desk to provide visual stimulation.
8.     Hug your kids. They’re your greatest story. Hear the words tumbling from your child’s mouth as he talks about his favorite blue flashlight.
9.     Kiss your husband. He’s your biggest fan.
10.  Pray. Pray as you write, as you edit, as you rest. Pray through it all. Because God is the Word. He gave you this calling. So trust him to work through you, even on days when the pool and the sunlight and the birds are calling
Emily T. Wierenga is an award-winning journalist, blogger, commissioned artist and columnist, and the author of five books including the memoir Atlas Girl: FindingHome in the Last Place I Thought to Look (Baker Books). All proceeds from Atlas Girl benefit Emily’s non-profit, The Lulu Tree. She lives in Alberta, Canada with her husband and two sons. For more info, please visit Find her on Twitter or Facebook.

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