On the first day of a new year, everyone is setting resolutions. Write more. Write every day. Get published. But not all resolutions stick. We’ve all been there. You write every day for the first month, setting new word count goals and feeling great about your writing. But then it happens—burnout. Suddenly, all you want to do is sit on the couch and binge-watch Netflix. Writing begins to feel like a chore.
What went wrong?
Writing burnout happens for several reasons. Let’s take a look at the causes so you can set resolutions that stick and help you achieve your writing goals.
1. Unrealistic Goals
Setting unattainable goals always leads to burnout. Yes, you should shoot for the stars, but that doesn’t mean you should lose sight of reality. If you’ve been consistently writing 500 words a day, don’t resolve to write 5,000 words a day. When you’re unable to meet your goal (as most people would be), you’ll become discouraged.
It’s far easier not to try than it is to fail every day. Push yourself, but keep it realistic. Instead of aiming for 5,000 words, try 1,000. Set goals you’ll be proud of achieving but that are within the realm of possibility.
2. Lack of Self-Care
Oftentimes, writers neglect one of the most important elements of productivity: self-care. If we set unrealistic goals and sacrifice everything to attain them, self-care goes out the window. We overtax ourselves, forget to eat well, and sacrifice on sleep and exercise. Eventually, we start feeling terrible and stop writing altogether.
Writing is important, and achieving the goals you set is important—but not at the cost of your health. Take time to relax. Do things you love, and spend time with people you care about. Give attention to eating right, exercising, and getting enough sleep. Neglected bodies and minds do not produce great writing.
3. Results-Based Goals
Most writers want to be published and to create work that touches people. These dreams keep writers going when things get difficult. But they are dreams, not goals. The difference: Dreams are beyond your immediate control. Yes, working hard leads to fulfilling dreams, but you can’t control whether one agent loves your work or whether your piece is right for your dream publication this month.
What you can control is how many hours you write a day, how many publications you submit to, and how much energy you devote to writing. Focusing on results-based goals makes it easy to burn out, when you don’t see results for your hard work. Instead, focus on the process. Celebrate daily success. You’ll be less likely to burn out and more likely to work hard long enough to see those dreams become reality.
Writing Resolutions Without Burnout
The new year is a time to reset and to focus in on our goals and dreams. Remind yourself why you write. Remember why you devote hours to your stories. Don’t get caught up in besting yourself. It’s not about setting the highest goals. It’s about setting the goals that will make you better and set you on the path toward becoming the writer you want to be.
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