Burn out’s tough. I paced. I stared at a blank screen. I did anything, including cleaning, to avoid writing. All the while, knowing there were assignments waiting and articles to be written. My heart just wasn’t in it.
This, after almost eight years of writing. In the year that led up to this frustration, I made nearly $75,000, and put in 20 hours a day, seven days a week. No wonder I crashed like the Hindenburg. It was the worst experience I’ve ever had. To ease the pain I got a “real job.” My heart wasn’t in that, either. But it gave me the distance to see where I went wrong.
The hours were a big problem. The money was good, but not worth the price. I never had time to write what I wanted. And I worked in a highly specialized area. Specializing is good unless you block yourself out of other markets.
After a year as an administrative assistant, I acknowledged that writing really was my purpose. So, I devised a plan to start again. The hardest part was knowing when to say no. Not every assignment is the right one, even if the money is really great. But if it doesn’t expand my knowledge and abilities or it’s not something I want to write, I don’t take it.
I also spend time writing what I want to write. There isn’t always a market for it, so I developed a website to showcase it. Writing is meant to be read, right? On my site, my favorite pieces get read; even if only by a few hundred people.
Finally, I now take plenty of time off-long lunches in the pool, unexpected days at the mall, even occasional trips out of town. Working from home allows me to set my own schedule. I just needed to learn how. The experience adds to articles that I want to write. Some of them even land in well-paying markets.
It’s hard to believe, but going down in flames helped me find the balance I needed most. I love writing again. I make enough money and there’s still time for a life. What more could I ask?
Jerri L. Ledford is a Freelance Business/Technology Writer in Nashville, Tennessee.