Yep, burnout. Everybody gets it. I’m not sure what it is about this year, but I’ve been seeing it much more with the folks I know lately. Maybe it’s stress from the shitty economy; maybe it’s the extra toasty summer; maybe it’s just a really bad case of airborne cooties.
Whatever it is, I am seriously burned out.
Part of it is the fact that, with the exception of a super-cool vacation that my family took a couple of weeks ago, I have been working non-stop since about May. When I’m not calmly allowing Internal Audit to open up my chest with a jackhammer and root around to see if they can find any SOX violations, reconciling so many cash accounts that I start speaking in numerals, or chasing down IT tech nerds in a largely futile effort to turn their jumbled mutterings into quasi-comprehensible written procedures, I’m trying to be the World’s Most Awesome Husband ™, figure out what the hell I’m going to do in a month-and-a-half when they cancel my bus routes, be a father to my ”OMG I’m bored” children, work out so that I don’t turn into a Flabmaster 3000 (also tm), and find a moment or two of peace.
Oh, yeah, I also spend 30-40 hours a week writing, blogging, and social networking. And I enjoy that stuff.
For some perspective: the rough draft of BLOOD SKIES was written back in November of 2009. I tinkered around with it for a year before I bothered revising it in late 2010, and I continued to edit right up until it was published in June 2011. BLACK SCARS, on the other hand, was written in a much shorter span of time. I started it back in May of this year, in part because I needed a side project to distract me from the mind-numbing reality of editing BLOOD SKIES. After the book was published and I was about 30,000 words into BLACK SCARS, I decided to do “Scariwrimo” and finish the book in a month. Once that goal was reached, I dove straight into the editing stage, wanting to get at least a first pass finished before I went on vacation in August. As soon as we got back from vacation, I knew that my wife and I were going to be hammered with work, my daughter’s 17th birthday, getting the kids back to school, and otherwise getting caught up from where we’d left off. Not wanting to waste what was turning out to be some fairly impressive momentum, I started working on Book 3, SOULRAZOR, while I was on vacation.
And now…I don’t want to do squat.
Trying to make it as an Indie author is a ridiculous amount of work. There are ways to streamline everything, but if you, like myself, have to juggle writing, revising, social marketing and all of that other crap together with a full-time job and having a family, you know exactly what I’m talking about. It wears on you after a while. You start to wonder if it’s all worth it, and in order to do that you have to re-evaluate your goals and ask yourself what’s important.
I’ll be honest: I’ve had moments where I thought about dropping the Indie author bit, just because I don’t know if I have enough juice left in me to keep chugging along. That, unfortunately, is a terrible attitude to have, but it’s something else that I see more often than I’d like. I have to wonder how many Indie authors have just…faded away? Burned out by the amount of work required to make even one sale (seriously…some people want to be courted, taken to the ball, kissed and have their house redecorated for them before they’ll even commit to purchase a…GASP…3 DOLLAR BOOK OH MY GOD I CAN’T AFFORD THAT YOU HAVE TO PROVE TO ME THAT YOU’RE MY BEST FRIEND FIRST!!!!); burned out by mediocre book sales; burned out by not becoming Amanda Hocking overnight; burned out…well, you get the idea. I’ve already met more than one author who has either a) quit the Indie author biz altogether, or b) decided they’ll never “make it” (whatever that means…and that’s something that the writer has to clearly define for his or her self, by the way), and so scaled back and decided they’ll write and publish “just for fun” and not worry about actually selling books.
Of those two options, I think b) is probably healthier, but it carries with a certain terminal sense of momentum-killing that can stifle a would-be writer just as badly as option A.
Me? Right now I’m option c) will keep at it, but seriously needs some motivation. Strangely, as I mentioned before, I had to trouble writing on vacation, but since I’ve come back (about a week ago now) I have had ZERO motivation to do anything related to writing. I’ve only revised about 40 pages of BLACK SCARS, I haven’t written anything new, and I’ve been on auto-pilot in terms of marketing.
I’ve burned myself out.
So…what’s the cure?
Honestly, I’m not sure if there is one. Just as I took a vacation from my day-job, I probably need to take a vacation from writing. Unfortunately, this is hardly the time for that, with BLACK SCARS slated for an October release, and a ton of editing still needed. So, ultimately, while I *need* a break, I’m not likely to take one, at least not a full one, and not anytime soon. I’m one of those people who needs to keep at something out of fear of losing all sense of motion. I’ve already lost a lot…but lucky for me I still have a few fumes left in the tank. I may need to coast down the hill for a bit, but with any luck I’ll get a jump from some good revision and kick back into 1st gear again here real soon.
The message here…if there is one…keep at it, Indie authors (and anyone else who’s feeling burned out by how much you’ve got going on). You’re not alone. There are days (or weeks…or months…) where we all want to throw in the towel. But this is where you separate yourself. You either give up, or you keep going. I plan to keep going.
I may just need to jump out of the fast lane for a few miles. I’m getting dizzy.