Flirting with Burnout

Image purchased from Adobe Stock.

I’ve been pushing myself really hard since 2016, the year I started publishing and somehow put out four books in seven months.

Each year I told myself I wouldn’t work so hard, but I kept on and sometimes added even more.

And now, almost four years later, my characters won’t talk to me. That’s a big problem because I can’t write without them.

So I think I may be reaching the burnout point. Luckily, I’m not fully there, but I think I’m getting close.

Looking back on my year, it’s not surprising:

Suffrage Movement Book:

  • Researched two sample chapters.
  • Wrote sample chapters (17,315 words)
  • Co-wrote proposal.
  • Queried agents with co-author.
  • Shelved book.

Virginia and Francis Minor biography:

  • Researched 105,557 words of notes.
  • Took research trip to University of Virginia in Charlottesville.
  • Wrote proposal and sample chapter.
  • Queried agents.
  • Project on hold.

Historical fiction book:

  • 9,041 words of notes (not complete)
  • Project on hold due to project below.

WWII book:

  • Researched 21,634 words
  • Developed detailed 7 page outline, with becomes 40 pages with notes.
  • Did this in three weeks.
  • Wrote 6,218 words.
  • Now the book is refusing to cooperate.

Other writing:

  • Wrote a short story for an anthology – 10,000 words
  • Researching book chapter: The Ethics of Writing Guinevere for the Modern Age.
    • So far at 15,410 words of notes.
    • Have four articles and two books to go.
  • Wrote three articles for NINC newsletter.
  • Reported on 11 sessions from the NINC Conference.

That’s a total of 185,175 words written (not counting the articles and reporting), even if most were notes.


  • Attended four conferences, speaking at two.
  • Spoke at five other events.
  • Conducted a successful USA Today bestseller list campaign.
  • Read 86 books (not including research) to date. Will likely hit 100 by end of year.

Oh and I have a full-time job.

But yet I hesitate to let myself have a break.

  1. I’m not sure I know how. I don’t know how to person without writering.
  2. I worry someone else will get to this latest book before I do.
  3. I feel like I always need to be doing something.
  4. I worry that taking a break will harm my career.

Yet, I know I have to slow down/stop for a while. The only thing I can muster energy and interest in right now is playing Covet Fashion on my Kindle. That is not a good thing because it costs money, rather than making me money. And it takes up time I could be using for writing. But at least it is a creative outlet, I guess. (And I am a damn good stylist!)

I know how I got myself here; now I just have to figure out how to get out of it.

Plot Bunny-itis and a Tired Brain

This is how my brain feels.

This is how my brain feels.

So, my brain is supposed to be on a break – well other than finishing up edits to the book I’m about to query.

You see, I’ve been going non-stop for three years, writing one book after another in an effort to get these stories out of my head and establish my career. Plus, I seriously don’t know how to stop writing. (This on top of a full-time day job.)

The result is that my brain is tired. It needs to take a break but doesn’t really want to stop. It’s flitting from one new plot idea to another like a butterfly or pixie in a garden of flowers. In the last two weeks I have been assailed by the following ideas:

  1. A desire to finally write one of the contemporary stories that’s in my head. It’s a little darker and slightly paranormal. But the plot is tangled right now and I don’t have the brain power to untangle it.
  2. A semi-historical/semi-fictional take on Phantom of the Opera. Not sure if I can make that one work, and even if I can, if I’m twisting history too much with what I want to do with it.
  3. A desire to resurrect my Robin Hood/Maid Marian story because there are two Robin Hood films in the works, which hopefully will spur interest in that story again.
  4. A vague idea for a paranormal contemporary book. It’s really just an idea and a name for the MC. It may or may not ever happen.
  5. A non-specific inkling that will eventually lead to filling in a plot hole in the third Guinevere novel. I know what I need to do with a character motivation-wise, now I just have to come up with the how and the specifics.
  6. Ideas for two Arthurian novellas. I really like these and I think they will work well as bridges between my Guinevere books, once those sell. There are two King Arthur/Lancelot movies in the works, so hopefully that will draw publishers’ interest to Arthurian legend.
  7. The knowledge that I really should write the two historicals (one is 19th century, the other WWII) that I have started researching.
  8. The desire to write another series. No idea what. I just want to write a series.
  9. A niggling feeling that I really should write a traditional romance because that’s my secondary genre.

This list doesn’t include the majority of the other books floating around in my head. Having so many ideas isn’t a bad thing, other than my brain won’t commit to anything. That probably is just because it needs to take a break. But like I said, I don’t know how. I’m afraid of wasting time. Other authors, social media and the industry send the message of constantly go, go, go – produce more now, especially when you’re trying to break in like I am. But what do you do when part of your brain says it’s exhausted, even as it tries to keep going?

Not really sure why I’m sharing this other than I feel the need to tell someone, or in this case, several thousand someones. I know I could distract myself with something else. I have a few things I need to do around my house, but writing and reading really are my main non-day job activities. I want to do a DIY MFA (more info on that soon – you get to learn right along with me!) but that involves brain power I really shouldn’t be using right now. And I’m trying to learn French. But none of those is enough to stop the creative brain from assailing me when it should be at much-needed rest.

Do you have any ideas how to get a constantly buzzing writer’s brain to simmer down for a bit? If so, I’d love to hear them.