I can see the light flicker in NaNoWriMo writers. Burnout on writing no longer allows you to face your keyboard with a glimmer of grace, but you’re bogged down with dread instead. The only twinkle in your eye comes from crying. You want to give up. All writers at one point or another have reached burnout at one point or another.
It’s evidence you are a true writer.
It’s true because you are pouring all that you’ve got into writing. Your passion is frazzled. You need a break, I suggest you take it (if only for a day). Look at my Rinky-Dink activities to take your mind off writing. I have something you can put in your back pocket when November is over: The Rinky-Dink Writing Approach.
(For all other burnout issues keep reading. If you are a slacker like me and aren’t doing NaNoWriMo but still have burnout issues I think you will love the Rinky-Dink Writing Approach.)
WARNING: NanoWriMo Spoiler Alert (Only read if you dare- it didn’t end good. Otherwise just skip to the next heading)
Ok, so honestly, I only did NaNoWriMo once in my life. I decided that I wasn’t going to do it again because of how it turned me off to writing for the following year. Yep, an entire year. I went into writer hibernation. It somehow evaporated all the words from my head and left my fingers completely dead.
As an unexperienced writer I think it was slight overkill. I needed more skills in balanced writing. Much more. And I should have followed the suggestion of planning ahead instead of just throwing up words (it doesn’t look pretty).
I left my kids unattended, dinner self-pended, the need for cleaning was screaming and I needed redeeming. Would any of these downfalls ever be mended?
Instead of spurring me on, all of my writing passions- just simply ended.
It’s true, I was ecstatic hitting that 50,000 word count (actually I think I overachieved by 11 words). It was a great challenge and I’m glad I did it, despite the fact I couldn’t write for a year afterwards. But I’ve been back at it hard for a few years now and learned to be balanced with life and writing.
Learn from it. This year I’ve taken a different approach. I’ll get to that in a minute, so thank you NaNoWriMo for the kick start of a month to better writing.
Rinky-Dink Writing Approach:
I won’t take back what I learned from NaNoWriMo. I wasn’t going to do NaNoWriMo but then it hit me. Yes, I needed to do a writing push of some kind. Thank you NaNoWriMo for providing the grounds for a writing push. Yay! I just didn’t need to do it by spewing it.
I wanted a much more thoughtful approach.
That virus and worm inflicted first book is why this month instead of NanoWriMo I did a dumbed down version (it’s true, I didn’t want to get anywhere near that book when I was done with it). I took upon myself a much smaller, rinky-dink approach. My overall goal is just a measly 20,000 thoughtful words, instead of the 50,000 key hit and spit out route. I call it my Rinky-Dink Writing Approach. And quite frankly with Rinky-Dink writing I’m a much happier writer.
Here’s how it works. Today is a great day to start it (provided you’re not doing NaNoWriMo). Or if you’re failing miserably at NaNoWriMo just ditch it and switch it over to my method of Rinky-Dink writing. (Come on, come to the sparkly side of writing.) You’re going to love it because it focuses on feeding your depleted side of life! And it makes your writing pop…instead of drop.
I think I’m going to adopt it as my new norm for writing.
- Choose a month goal of 10,000 or 20,000 words. (I chose 20,000)
- Just write 500 (10,000 goal) or 1,000 (20,000 goal) thoughtful words a day. The key word is “thoughtful.” No spewing out filler junk words. Make your words count.
- Take weekends and holidays off (yep, and my birthday counts as a holiday- you can take that day too. Cha-ching). You need these writing breaks.
- Interject daily Rinky-Dink activities (see below) to feed your writing and rest your brain. This is the most important thing you can do to make your writing flourish. Your words need some key elements to make you a more successful writer.
RINKY-DINK Activities That Keep Your Writing Thriving
NanoWriMo didn’t give me any breaks (because I wasn’t experienced in a balanced life). Rinky-dink writing does. Here’s how to refill your head with additional words, instead of evaporating them all out. Your writing will thrive if you give it something to feast on. Try these things daily while you write. Just remember RINKY-DINK and you’ve got it.
Read. Don’t drop your passion of reading for writing. Refire your synapses with someone else’s words. Fill all that empty space that you are trying to write with, with great words of wisdom from someone else. Can’t believe how this gives my brain the much needed break and extra thinking power.
Interact. People are necessary element for a writers cooped up stints. Drag yourself out and be with family, friends, or neighbors. Call someone. Socialize and get some inspiration for your next writing piece. Be human instead of an awesome writing machine for a change. Show other human life forms that they are interesting to you. Play games, go to lunch, whatever. It will pay off in the long run and the sacrifice somehow magically helps the words fit nicely on your page.
Nutrition. Actually get good healthy food in your body. No snack-and-grab-and-add-to-flab stints (I’m talking from experience here). Try a new recipe. Fill your brain with sights and smells, not words for a change. Enjoy. Recharge. And get your body buzzing with nutrients and full brain power instead of swaggering on a sugar-debt lag.
Kinetic Activity. Blinking and dancing fingers doesn’t count. Go for a walk, exercise, or karate chop blocks. Whatever will work up a sweat will help eliminate word debts. Your brain will enjoy a little more pain in other parts of your body besides the brain. Give your brain a break and overwork your body for a change. Inspiration comes in mysterious ways.
Yak. Yep. Flap those lips and carry on conversations with someone. Anyone. Seek out new insights from other brain transporters. Get insights from kids, grandparents, the neighbors, or a stranger. Come up with a list of questions. They don’t have to be related to your writing, necessarily. Learn new ways of thinking by sucking the experiences from others.
Disaster zone clean-up. Attack a problem area. Problem solve. If your house or work space is spic and span then find an empty lot and pull weeds… whatever. I’m sure you can solve someone else’s problems. I love playing the 30 min. game of writing and switch to 30 minutes of working. Work works wonders.
Indulge in you. Stop neglecting yourself. Make a list of at least 15 things you enjoy doing. Do that thing you’ve been depriving yourself of. Maybe you like organizing, painting, shopping, or clay pigeon shooting. Or maybe you love hiking, or taking pictures, or dolling up fixtures. Whatever. Stop neglecting your other passions because it’s begging for your attention. Feed it so it will feed your writing. Choose at least once a week to indulge in yourself and you will start to feel that balance you’ve been searching for.
Nerd Out. Ok, so you can paint your own picture of how this goes. Turn on music and boogie (even though skills are seriously lacking). Be a dork. Make yourself laugh and smile. Feel awkward by breaking the norm. Attempt to do the worm, make yourself squirm. Personally I like to close the kitchen blinds, turn up the music, and bust a move.
Keep Up. Write and add something from the Rinky-dink list every day (except weekends and holidays). Yep take forced vacations from writing. Rough stuff, I know. But, when you take your break make sure you are filling it with all kinds of redirected thoughts.
You will find that your 500- 1,000 thoughtful words a day will come much more easily and you will love rinky-dink writing. I hope you can adopt this crazy fun way to keep your writing fresh and at its best.
So. Here’s to a Rinky-Dink Writing push. It allows me to interact with the kids, and dinner dishes. The need for cleaning gets squished in and I am meeting my wishes. My life as a writer is finally all googly-eyed giddy.
Instead, all of my writing passions falling- to me its begging and calling. The key? You’ve got to starve your writing a little and feed your human side. Next time you are burned out on writing. Take a break and remember the RINKY-DINK Writing Approach and get your writing back on track. Feed your passion to write by giving it something to write about.
Christie Perkins is a survivor of boy humor, chemo, and faulty recipes. She loves freelance writing, blogging, and is a nonfiction junkie. Her stage 4 cancer doesn’t knock down her passion for life and writing. Not a chance. A couple of magazines have published her work but her biggest paycheck is her incredible family. Christie hates spiders, the dark, and Shepherd’s Pie. Bleh. Mood boosters: white daisies, playing basketball, and peanut butter M&M’s. You can find out more about her on her blog at howperkyworks.com.
2 thoughts on “Writing Burnout? Try A Rinky-Dink Writing Approach”
Some great advise. Thank you.
I’ve attempted and failed NaNoWriMo three times, and this blog perfectly sums up some of the reasons I feel ambivalent towards it. Maybe I will try your approach this November – it seems a lot more realistic!
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