If I may resort to a tired old cliché, I’ve been burning the candle at both ends for some time now. As an author, I’m always desperate to find time to write, of course. Most of us, as authors, have one big problem to deal with in that regard: the day job. In my case, the day job is Publisher & Executive Editor at Evolved Publishing.
I have it easier than many, however, not having the added responsibility of a spouse and kids, as many of you do. My disadvantage is the sheer number of hours required each week by my day job, which is getting a wee bit nutso.
I scramble every day and every night to find time to get it all done. Yet despite this constant pressure—actually, because of it—I must break away on occasion to refresh. I do that in a couple different ways. I ride a bicycle to get some exercise, and to enjoy the outdoors. (Man! I really must get out of the cave once in a while.) My 20- to 30-mile rides through hilly terrain are always a physical grind, because I’m not just out cruising around—I push it hard. At other times, I just turn on the TV for an hour or two while I take a meal break, or kick on the stereo, crank up the volume, and sing along. Maybe I’ll just step outside and take a walk downtown, stop in at the local eatery, and enjoy some lunch and a beer (uh… that’s one beer).
The point is that I de-stress. Every time I do, I feel better, more energetic, and that makes me more productive. I get more work done as a result, more than I would if I took no breaks at all. That may seem counterintuitive, but I believe it to be true. Burnout is a dangerous thing in our business. It’s so easy to let the time commitment required to become a successful author overwhelm us. The process takes years, so when we grind away, trying to find a few hours here and a couple hours there to pursue those goals, we often become disheartened.
The first thing to do, I believe, is to accept our career goals for what they are. We can’t take shortcuts, which means compromising on quality of work, because that will kill our career before it even begins. Settle in. Accept that you’ve made a long-term commitment. The future will be bright.
The second thing to do is to treat your self to an occasional “mini-vacation” – two or three hours to refresh yourself. I recommend exercise first, as nothing will boost your energy quite that way. But whatever method you choose, don’t feel so pressured to complete that piece right this minute, that you burn yourself out in a devastating crash. Even if you can only eek out a half hour to exercise, do it! You’ll be a better, more productive writer for it.