I have been in an emotional, physical, and professional burnout since September of 2011, and I had no idea I was in the midst of one until recently. I was always coming home after a horrendous day of teaching (due to professional paperwork, not the kids) and I was literally too mentally exhausted to write, much less get an idea I could expound upon. And it got worse. My health declined, and the back of my neck felt like a block of concrete. I stopped my daily walking excercise. I could raise my arms no higher than shoulder level, which meant washing and bathing were major tasks, and forced me to chop off my hair to a length I could handle. Using lots of IcyHot helped me get to sleep at night, but I was resorting to all sorts of over-the-counter painkillers to keep me going during the day.
Eventually I had to seek medical help, which included MRIs, a stress test, and a shot in the back of the neck. Still, writing was elusive. Worse, I didn't even feel like reading. Not even my favorite horror mags.
Professionally, I felt like my books weren't doing squat. I'd had such a bad experience with one publisher, that my writing voice had completely deserted me. What little I forced myself to write, I constantly edited and re-wrote until the story no longer mattered to me, and I abandoned it. I felt like an utter failure to my other editors, as my books didn't do well for them either.
Thank goodness my hubby was there to support me.
After much praying and trying to figure out where to go with my writing, three remarkable things happened this month that helped to re-set my mental state.
*The UFO Museum in Roswell, NM, holds a yearly festival over the July 4th weekend. I had given them four of my books (the "Runner's Moon" series), and on the strength of those books I was invited to be a featured author at this year's gathering, which brings in thousands of tourists from all over the globe.
*A reader contacted me to tell me she and her book club were going to use AEQUANA as one of their preferred reads, and would I be able to talk to them via Skype or telephone when they meet? I asked her where were they located, and it was in Houston! A two-hour drive for me! Better still, they meet on a Saturday evening. Long story short, I'm driving up there to be with them personally. I can't wait!
*As an indie author, I have put some of my early works up at All Romance eBooks, which meant that whenever ARe wanted to push a special sale or event, I would get notification since I had my own "publishing company". In the past, I've always submitted something to one of their promos, only to have it rejected. (I'm a firm believer of "it never hurts to try".) So when they put out the all call for Earth Day, I sent them THE BATTLE LORD'S LADY. To my utter shock, it was accepted to be part of the 21-day celebration. And when my day came on the 19th, more surprise was in store when all 3 of my Battle Lord Saga books went to the top of the Sci-Fi category!
These reaffirming moments have done a wealth of good for me. Not only am I back to doing my walking/daily exercise, I'm back to writing! I have less than 30 days left of school before I can write full time in the summer again, and I plan to do more indie publishing. And I am seeking more medical help, including a professional masseuse.
Better still, I've now incorporated the following in my routine:
*Getting up out of my seat at least once an hour for at least 10 min. No more staring at the screen for long stretches at a time. The diversion can be something as simple as putting a load in the washer, unloading the dishwasher (or loading it), folding/hanging clothes, straightening up the living room, taking out the trash, or planning what I'm going to wear the next day.
*Not stressing over what I write. I JUST DO IT. Then once I'm done, I save and I don't go back to re-edit. Not yet, anyway. Once I'm done, I let it stew for a while. Then I can go back later and re-read and edit altogether. That way I'm more likely to catch times/dates/nuances that I may have forgotten or overlooked.
*More indie publishing. I probably won't sell much, but at least I'll be writing what I want to write, not what I'm told to write (Even after a publisher accepts your book as is, why do they insist on changing so damn much of it? If it wasn't what they were originally looking for, why contract it in the first place?) Also, on the plus side of that, I'll work at my own pace and my own schedule.
As my dear hubby and best friend tells me, fix what can be fixed, and don't worry over what can't be changed. Lord love his soul.