Tag Archives: writing groups

My burnout recovery strategy…and other tips for over-worked writers

I just wrapped up several hellish weeks that included a busy schedule at work, some rush freelance work, writing group activities, a dozen birthday parties, one sick cat and a herniated disk. I have a feeling that final item was brought on by everything else. 

Those few weeks capped off a busy year that never seemed to take a breather. It wasn’t the kind of stress that a glass of wine and good night’s sleep could fix. I felt worn out every day. Some days I questioned what I had been thinking when I decided to pursue my writing. I found myself wishing for swine flu just so I could have a few days to do nothing but sleep. 

Being in a creative field means that you are vulnerable to burnout. It’s not the kind of work where you can simply check your brain into a locker, slog through your eight hours, and then reinstall your brain at the end of your shift. And for those who fit their writing in after an eight-hour-or-more slog…let’s just say that carpal tunnel isn’t the only thing you have to worry about.

Burnout can lead to long-term health problems that can spill over into all areas of your life. But here’s the good news: there are things you can do to prevent and treat burnout.

HelpGuide.org has some great resources for dealing with burnout. This resource takes the “Three Rs” approach to burnout: how to Recognize it, Reverse it, and build your Resilience.

For me, I found three things that really helped:

1. Learning to say “no”. I’m a people-pleaser by nature, and as a part-time freelancer, it’s like cutting off my arm to have to turn down a paycheque. But no typing means no working; no working means no income; and no income means I have to cancel HBO. So some “preventative nay-saying” was my first step.

2. Getting professional help. Luckily, my injury was in the early stages and some treatment will have me back up and working in no time. (Update: Chiropractic treatment? Meh. Massage treatment? Heavenly.)

3. Leaning on my informal support group. If I didn’t have the Restless Writers (even their odd new habit of calling me “Sultry Monkey”), I wouldn’t have any outlet for the stress of juggling a day-job and the writing life. Lori and Beckie—and yes, all our blog visitors and Twitter folk—are all a part of my mental-health care action team. I’m grateful to have you.

Thankfully, I’m on the mend. Have you had an experience with burnout? How did it happen? And how did you deal?

Maria

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Filed under Life and stuff, Trials and Tribulations

We’re Ready For Our Close Up

Who is your celebrity doppelganger? Do people tell you so-and-so should play you in a movie? My best one was Marissa Tomei. The worst? Rosie O’Donnell. Also, after I got an unfortunate haircut in the late 90’s, Monica Lewinsky (seriously – I was stopped in the street about it).

Being a fiction writer and pop culture junkie, I’m always holding casting sessions in my mind for my stories. (FYI, Nia Vardalos, you are the lead in my manuscript, along with Bradley Cooper. You’re welcome.)

At our most recent, booze-infused meeting, the topic came up of who we would want to play us in a movie, tentatively titled “Champagne: A Love Story”.

First up, Maria.

This one was easy: Christina Hendricks. They each have beautiful crimson tresses, quiet intelligence and an impressive rack. Also, both can rock the naughty secretary thing like nobody’s business.

Casting Beckie was a bit more tricky.

We tossed out Mena Suvari, Alicia Silverstone and Kate Hudson. But to me, they’re too ingénue. Too obvious. Our little Beckie has some seriously delicious quirks that those ladies don’t capture for me. So, Leelee Sobieski it is. She’s super cute and you just know her still waters run very deep.

And me?

I’m gonna go with Nigella Lawson. Sure, she’s not an actress, but she’s got big-ass hair, isn’t afraid to show some cleavage (hers real, mine more of an optical illusion) and is a mad demon in the kitchen.

And, in case you haven’t noticed, food plays a vital role in a Restless Writers’ meeting, much like New York City is the fourth character in Sex and the City.

Who would play you in the movie of you?

Lori

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Filed under Group meetings, Inspiration, Life and stuff