It's hard enough to write a thoughtful, useful post without feeling like I'm sipping yogurt through a thin straw. (Don't know what I mean? Try it sometime. The feeling compares remarkably well to writing while burned out.)
The only thing I advise people to do when burned out is to rest. But what to do when the burn-out is gone and you just can't get into the writing groove again?
Oh, I'm glad you asked.
I know that everyone is different, but I've found that the following steps work for me:
Step 1: Find a big enough stick.
I'm serious. Resting during a burn-out is all about spoiling ourselves rotten and doing all those things we usually do to procrastinate without feeling guilty about it. This is a good thing in its time, but now that time is over. But why promise yourself a reward when you're already in the zone of instant gratification?
It just won't work. So find what will really make yourself feel crap if you don't do it within a certain time, and commit to it now. I picked saying yes to two anthologies and setting up a book for pre-order.
Of the two, the pre-order thing is worse. I like having the pre-order option. And Amazon will take that option away for a year if I don't submit the finished work in time. See? Pretty big stick.
And already, I've started making sure that I'll have everything done. Just make sure that the big stick won't be falling too soon. You've got to be reasonable. Setting something up for pre-orders a week from now isn't reasonable unless you were close to done to begin with.
Step 2: Get into the habit of delayed gratification.
You used to do this before. It's not so hard. Say: "Yes, I want to watch TV, but first I need to finish this chapter."
This is a tricky thing to do, because the excuses are a dime a dozen. But if you want to get that book done, you need to say: "Later." to everything that isn't finishing your book.
Except, you know, your family needing your attention or something like that. Family is important. Writing is important. Sometimes, friends are important. TV.... not so much.
And be careful of the social networking you "need" to do. Not that important either.
Step 3: Find a nice, juicy carrot.
That's the nice thing about delayed gratification. Telling yourself you'll do something after finishing a chapter means that you'll want to finish that chapter even if it's only to get to a guilt-free session of that other thing.
I go a bit bigger, though. I've promised myself something really nice and expensive if I publish my book on time. Actually, that was a new laptop, but the old one broke. So I'm going to have to think of something else.
I'll probably feed my addiction to pretty notebooks. (NOTE: if you're ever a die-hard fan that wants to send me stuff for Christmas or my birthday... NOTEBOOKS. The beautiful hard-cover kinds with the high quality paper.)
In the short term, I promised myself a decadent chocolate and banana smoothie once I've finished this post.
Step 4: Actually write, nitwit.
You know? It's kind of important.
And that's pretty much it. Simple, right?
How do you get back into the writing groove after a long break?
Back to the subject of putting books on pre-order. I'll be putting Endless up on Amazon this weekend. It's already up on B&N, Kobo and Apple. In the meantime, though, I'm looking for people who'd like to help me spread the word in May after the launch. If you're interested, please click here. Thanks! You're awesome.