Like many writers, I have a full-time day job.
My position keeps me busy in a joyful “I work with young children” way. Lately, though, by the time I leave, I am ready to bypass dinner and crawl into bed.
The problem with that scenario is that my writing life gets switched to “high gear” during the evening. Throughout the day I’ve had chances to think, plan, note, dream, read, and talk about writing. But I reserve my evenings for the actual craft of writing.
Crash and burn
Imagine the swarms of day-job writers leaving the parking lots of the world, driving towards home with a common goal: typewriter to page, keyboard to computer screen, pencil to paper — whatever it takes to bring our writing thoughts to life.
Yet, after the bulk of our day has been given to our employers and most of our energy has been spent, a comfy couch is often what we dive into rather than our work.
That sure has been the case for me over the past few months. With an increase in responsibilities at work and elsewhere, I had to make changes to keep my writing life alive.
You too may find yourself in the middle of a busy time at work, and “crashing” when you get home sounds better than writing. However, the worst thing you can do is put your writing aside until “things slow down.” I did that for a few weeks and, believe me, that is not the answer.
So, how do you start writing after the day job ends and you’re burned out? Here are the five changes I made.
1. Shorten your quota
Do you have a word, page, or time quota for writing? Change it for a while until you’re better able to manage it. The goal is to write daily. Write less but do it every day. When you come home and know that your goal is 100 words instead of a thousand or 10 minutes instead of two hours, you’ll be able to keep the quota and maybe even surprise yourself by doing more.
2. Tone down your blog schedule
Those of you who subscribe to Darla Writes have probably noticed a decrease in the frequency of my posts. Now you know why. Though I view my blog as an important part of my writing life — it’s where I collect and share what I learn — I’ve had to spend less time here.
If you’re a writer with a blog, then depend on the posts you’ve already written to fill in while you’re off schedule. And when you do find time to write a post, make sure it’s a good one and not just filler to make sure Google doesn’t forget you. Your visitors and subscribers deserve your best, so wait until you have something worthwhile to share. Your subscribers are loyal; they’ll be happy to receive your quality posts whenever they’re ready.
3. Cut back on social media
Being involved with social media is a must these days for both published and unpublished writers. What’s most important for unpublished writers, though, is that you become familiar with them and recognize their value. I’ve enjoyed using Facebook and Twitter, but updates and tweets have been few lately and I’ve lost a few Twitter followers.
I’m okay with that. And you can be okay with it, too. For a while you may have to retreat from the social stuff, tweeting and posting only once a day or twice a week. Or less.
Do your best to stay in touch but, again, stick to quality over quantity. (By the way, that’s a tip you can use for any time.)
4. Read for relaxation and inspiration
Always have a book at your bedside. Not only is reading a key to becoming a better writer, it also will help you relax after a tough work day. Reading is an important part of the writing life — the most important, some might argue. So when you partake of it, you are actually working on your craft.
Read when you’re worn out and you may find yourself reaching for that laptop or notepad — just when you thought you didn’t have anything left to give.
5. Stop beating yourself up
Finally, relax and realize that you’re a human being. Yes, you love to write, but unless you want to go the way of those celebrated writers who drugged themselves into submission, give yourself a break.
Get home from work and dive onto that sofa. Call your friend and plan for the weekend. Talk for hours with your spouse about that very hard day. Sit back and watch your children at play. You may even find yourself energized by these precious times of leisure.
Figure out a writing life plan that you can handle. “To everything there is a season.” You and I will be back on track soon.
How have you been able to combat the day-job writer fatigue?
You may also enjoy this post: Got time? How to find time for writing when you work to live.