The Struggle Between Burnout and Inspiration

My mind is in the middle of an intersection at the moment where they forgot to install a traffic signal and there’s been a massive pileup. I’ve done little but edit all year and it’s worn me down. A couple of days ago I finished my editing pass on Torment Surfacing and ran headlong into burnout.

For someone who’s always forging ahead this is the worst news. I’m driven and unrelenting when it comes to my writing (yeah, okay, so that’s probably some of the issue).

Courtesy: Pixabay
Courtesy: Pixabay

To be more precise, I’ve just finished a month-long edit, am about to launch into planning for NaNo, the weather outside is making an unseasonable plummet (snow, anyone?), and I feel like I could sleep for a month and it wouldn’t be enough.

I’m hoping this is post-project fallout and not something more serious. For now, I plan to take it easy for the rest of the month. I’ll probably do some light editing on a short story or two, but nothing too serious.

Yeah, right.

Fighting with my fatigue is the half of my brain that’s focused on planning Zepha’s story for NaNo. Part of me wants to embrace brainstorming, but the other part wants to crawl beneath a blanket and stay there. Part of me wants to add to my Pannulus worldbuilding (the story’s location), but the other part doesn’t want to so much as turn on the computer.

The simple solution is to take a short break. Right? Not for me, and that’s part of the problem. If I’m not working then I’m punishing myself for failing to do so.

Okay, so that sounds really bad, but it’s also led to considerable productivity over the last four years (7 novels, +40 short stories).

Okay, confession time to you, dear reader, and myself. This post is rather underhanded. Behind the revelations and the rationalizations is my secret hope that writing this will spur me to work. I know I need to slow down for a short while, but creativity is a relentless driver. Thus, the turmoil inside.

The lure of story is difficult to resist and the story begging for me to bring it to life refuses to remain quiet. A little of what I have:

Zepha is a witch who’s on probation for having assisted in a humane, but illegal, act. Magic is regulated in Pannulus and certain violations carry severe penalties. Her punishment entails wearing a special, spelled band that limits her magic. She lives alone in (or near) Cather on Lake Magus and has carved out a quiet, rewarding life, though it’s lonely owing to a number of factors.

Pannulus - 2019. Map: CA Hawthorne
Pannulus – 2019. Map: CA Hawthorne

A less quiet life finds her.

She’s inadvertently thrust into increasingly disturbing events in her northern city. There’s an attack and a valuable artifact is stolen from the professor she works for part-time at the local college. Soon after comes a series of kidnappings with horrific and, supposedly, impossible outcomes.

In response, the government sends an agent north from Arthune to investigate, an agent with a past linked to Zepha’s. There’s hostility between them, but he requires her knowledge of recent events, the artifact’s power, magic theory, and the past she can’t seem to escape.

There are influential subplots like her estrangement from her family, volunteering to read to children, and her paintings, which she refuses to market because they could draw unwanted attention from certain parties.

And it could possibly be there’s a romance buried in here somewhere.

Of course, what she knows, but doesn’t realize she knows, is what could get her killed (if her inquisitive nature and desire to protect an innocent child don’t get her killed first).

Anyway, this is a little of what I’ve come up with while working on a different project through September. I’m actually rather stunned, and tired, and, well, more than a little inspired right now.

Great, so the battle rages on. Yeah, that’s what writers do.

3 Replies to “The Struggle Between Burnout and Inspiration”

  1. Pingback: The Struggle Between Burnout and Inspiration | Christina Anne Hawthorne

  2. I find I have to take breaks in order to stay productive, but that doesn’t necessarily mean no writing at all. Sometimes I switch the type of activity or project I’m on in order to switch things up. When I go on vacations, I allow myself to do journal writing but nothing else, and that’s so different from my usual routine that I come home refreshed and with new ideas without losing the ability to put words on the page. Long breaks from writing can make it hard to get started again, so I avoid that by writing, just making sure it’s something different than what I was working on before.

    • Yes, I can’t stop completely. I have no idea how someone can unless they’re having a life crisis like a major health issue (been there, done that). I agree with you about rotating projects. I thought I was doing that well enough, but I’m discovering I’m not. I drafted Bk3 last NaNo and then spent December writing short stories, but since all I’ve done is edit one book after another (it takes FAR longer to edit one than to draft it). That’s the downside to being prolific. In the past I’ve done work with my short stories in-between, but not this year. You have me thinking that was part of the problem this year. Thanks!

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