Today I have a treat for you all. Instead of the normal writing exercises, I have a fun guest post by Krista about being burnt out and her take on it. Enjoy!
Guest Post #1
During the day (or should I say, the night), I work as a nurse. Nursing and writing are probably the two areas that I study, learn and focus on.
One of the biggest problems and concerns when it comes to nursing is something called burnout. It’s the moment when a nurse is so overwhelmed, so overworked that she or he cannot function. They are pushed to the point that their hearts are no longer in the job, and they go through the motions, no longer proud of their work.
Unfortunately, it’s something that happens quite frequently because of the expectations on nurses. We work 12 hour days, sometimes more, if we don’t get our work done. We endure the put downs of doctors and the incessant demands of patients. We have the responsibility of people’s lives on our shoulders, and any mistake could mean us losing our license and our livelihood.
So that high amount of stress has the tendency to cause burnout. And I’ve been in so many classes where my professors have talked about this problem and ways to prevent it. Of course, there’s the idea of taking a vacation, decreasing hours, etc, but what happens when you don’t have the luxury to spend the money on vacation or to decrease hours?
Even though I’ve not been a nurse long, I’ve already experienced burnout, and it is something that can consume a person completely. It’s when the body no longer functions completely, and it’s almost as though my soul detached itself completely from my body.
Why do I bring this up?
Because I think this is akin to writer’s block. People talk about how they can’t write, how they stare at a blank page and their mind is just as blank. They may write words, but they’re only going through the motions, and there’s no soul in their writing. Does that sound a bit familiar?
Now I want to talk about some advice on dealing with burnout that might help with writer’s block as well. Both of them are something that can make someone feel like they’ve lost a part of themselves, and sometimes the real solution can be quite simple.
The biggest solution is to find your true calling. While in nursing school, I had a difficult time because I was told by many, many people that what I wanted to do wasn’t worth what I’d gotten a degree for. I always wanted to work in geriatrics, I love long term care and being able to know a patient so completely that I can recognize the slightest change of their skin color or when they start walking differently. I love the elderly, and it’s where I feel the most comfortable. But since I have a bachelor’s degree in nursing, most people assume that I should work in a hospital, in an ER or OR to really use my degree appropriately.
But had I worked in one of those places, I think I would have endured burnout much longer and more frequently than before. The only real moment when I did experience burnout is when I stepped away from where I was most comfortable, and what I most loved.
In writing, it’s very similar. If there’s a story you’re trying to write because you think you have to, or because it’s what’s popular, then stop. Write what makes your adrenaline rush. Write what brings you the most pleasure, and what you enjoy.
Another solution is to step away from the situation for a moment. Like I said, take a vacation, and decrease the hours. Find something else to distract you so that your entire focus isn’t on one thing. Same thing with writing. If all you do is sit in a room and write all day, then of course you’re going to get burnout. Go outside. Play some soccer. Learn how to dance. Do something else that gets the creative juices flowing. Don’t ever limit yourself to just one thing.
Those are the two biggest things that I’ve learned can help with burnout. And since I think that writer’s block is just another word for burnout, I’ve applied these in my writing life as well. Since doing so, I haven’t had a day where writing doesn’t make me excited, get my adrenaline pumping and make me want to keep going.
Krista is a writer and a nurse with so many more interests that it would be difficult to list them all. She writes YA fantasy and loves retellings of fairy tales. Her blog, Color Coordinated (kristaquintana.blogspot.com) follows her thoughts on writing and literature, and everything in between.
Check out my post on her blog, http://kristaquintana.blogspot.com/2013/08/the-writing-ritual-guest-post-by-taylor.html I promise you'll like it!