Hello, my lovelies. I’ve missed you. 🙂 I’ve missed your shining faces, your silly comments, and your sweetness and camaraderie. To those of you who are reading this, I thank you for sticking by me even when I’ve been off and on for the past few weeks. Issues with internet, electricity, health, job deadlines, and some exciting news have all conspired to keep me peddling furiously on the great hamster wheel of life.
(Can you actually peddle on a hamster wheel? Ah, well, you know what I mean.)
Today’s topic is author burn-out, although it can apply to any profession or endeavor. If you’ve experienced it, I don’t need to explain. If you haven’t experienced it, I envy you.
We often see burn-out in high-labor, low-profit jobs such as teaching, nursing, or childcare. We can also see it in high-profit jobs such as business, but many times we become burned out because we work too hard at a job. Not because we are driven to earn a profit, but because we care passionately about our job and want to make a difference.
Sometimes, we forget that we are a community. In our drive to succeed and to perhaps be just a little bit better than the competition, we isolate ourselves in an attempt not to give away our secrets. We worry that we are not as productive, as accomplished, as recognized, or as successful as others.
Being an author in the ebook publishing industry is both the worst and best job I can imagine. Long after I gave up my dream, I’ve become a published author who is able to write the stories I love best. I get to connect with people who read my stories and care for the characters I create. I write for publishers who support me, support my work, and believe in me. I get to talk with other authors and readers who have touched my life and allowed me to touch theirs. What could be better?
At the same time, the competition is intense. There are several million (okay, perhaps I am exaggerating slightly) new ebooks on the market, and even writing at top speed I can’t hope to keep up with the most prolific writers. I pour time and effort into social media, only to find that I’m missing a crucial element or need to learn about a new technique or outlet. And, no matter how much time and energy I invest, there is always someone who outshines me in multiple areas. And darn it if I could break through the unspoken ban on reviewing F/F stories. People read, buy, and enjoy F/F. Why can’t we get more reviewers on record to say so?
I’m often asked (though not recently) how I can manage to do all that I do. The answer is that other people manage to do far more. The more I think about it, the more depressing it is.
Have you ever felt the same way?
The advice I’d like to offer today is this:
- If you want to drive yourself crazy, compare yourself to others.
- If you want to overwork yourself into the ground, focus on your inadequacies.
Simplistic? Perhaps. But sometimes truisms are called that because they contain truth.
We may not have been given equal and identical skills, talents, and connections. I may long for someone else’s achievements without recognizing my own. I think many of us secretly wonder, deep down, if we’re quite as good as the person we use for a comparison.
Today, I’d like you to do something for me. For yourselves.
Find someone whose work you admire, either someone established or someone new, and let that person know how much you like his or her work.
Here’s the catch:
Without comparing yourself.
I find that the authors I most genuinely enjoy reading and getting to know…are the authors who are generous in their praise of others. I don’t mean flattery in the hope of getting reciprocation, but genuine, no-strings-attached recognition of another’s talents and accomplishments. It doesn’t have to always be about work, either. The small notes of friendship, both writing and receiving, have brightened many of my days when I have been stressed.
It’s a funny thing. When I think about my own accomplishments or lack thereof, I get dispirited. When I find reasons to rejoice on someone else’s behalf…pretty soon I find myself happier as well.
How about you? How do you handle burn-out? Whom will you recognize today? (Feel free to keep the second part private, if you wish.)