No daily writer even wants to think the word “burnout.” But at the end of June someone directed that word at me, and I had to accept that part of my recent problem is related to burnout.
It was pointed out that the last year has been, um, stressful. Putting my career on hold to take care of my family was one kind of stress, but then coming back to my job with my hair on fire, desperate to jump in and make things work better was another kind of stress on top of that. Add to that daily struggles, my own chronic illnesses, isolation and loneliness, and the state of the world—it’s been a lot. So, yes, I am burned out, even if it’s not the creative burnout I fear. (And that’s not to say that all the other burnout isn’t sapping my creative energies.)
I decided to take the end of June to clear my plate, so I could spend as much of July as possible relaxing and refueling.
There was one problem with my plan—I’m a daily writer. I can’t stop writing. So, if I’m not working on my novels, short stories, or anything else that is “for work,” what can I write while still taking this very necessary break?
A Writing Break for Burnout
I decided the solution was daily prompts.
I obviously enjoy writing to prompts and had first thought to dig into my vast resources and pre-select a few that jive with me. But that might feel a little too much like what I do monthly on Patreon and might encourage me to “do something” with whatever I write. The point right now is to not do anything. To keep up my writing practice without trying to set a goal, make something perfect, or even refine it in any way. If I stumble across an idea I want to develop later, great, but everything I’m writing currently should come with guilt-free disposability.
I downloaded an app promising daily prompts and resolved to use them regardless of how much I liked the prompt on its own. And the results? Have been pleasantly surprising!
Knowing whatever I write is meant for My Eyes Only has provided much more freedom than I usually experience while writing. I haven’t needed to worry about coherence and can jump from thought to thought or moment to moment without trying to find a transition or make a note to figure it out later
There’s also no pressure to write anything of substance or quality because no one is going to see it. I don’t have to release it for any audience or please anyone with what I’m writing. Everything can suck! There are no right answers! These are just words to keep my writing streak alive and keep myself connected to creativity!
Having the rule to write to every prompt, even if it’s not one that really engages me is another form of freedom. The first question I ask the prompt is “what will I do with it?” instead of “do I want to do something with this?” That subtle twist of language shifts my focus from me to the writing (and from the future to the present) and has allowed me to write something for every prompt.
Bonus: because I’m not editing and am just putting words on a page, I can complete my 250-word daily minimum in 10 minutes without any fuss!
More and more I’m feeling like using a daily prompt randomly supplied might serve as a good warm-up for my normal writing routine or as a way to reconnect when I’m feeling out of sorts. Has anyone else tried using daily prompts like this? What’s your experience been like?
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