What to do when you’re tired and discouraged

So maybe you’ve been plugging away at short stories for a while and nothing seems to work. Or maybe you’ve got a novel that never seems to end. Or maybe you’ve got something done, but you just can’t seem to sell it. Maybe you’ve got several novels sold, but you’re starting to hate what you write.

What do you do when you’re starting to give up hope, when th e world and deadlines and everything else starts crowding in?

There’re three major options:

1) Keep on plugging away, with bloody minded determination. This is the standard solution if you want to be published, and I highly recommend you try it sometime if you haven’t. Sometimes putting your blinders on and doing what has to be done is the only way to get where you want to go.

2) Give up. This is the most common response. There’s no shame to it — “Writing ain’t for everyone,” as the saying goes here in Texas. (But giving up is not what this journal is about!)

3) The middle road: Retreat to your sacred space. Take the pressure off. Let your bliss return, so it feels less like a job. The danger here is that you’ll never come back, but to lessen that danger, lay some ground rules — you don’t have to write in your sacred space, but you can’t go internet surfing either. Make a short list of acceptable behaviors (reading certain books, studying certain subjects, writing poetry, staring insensate at the wall/plants/traffic, meditation, taking a nap/sleeping). You’ll probably find that you resort to a lot of staring — this is because a lot of burnout comes from stress and exhaustion. Your mind probably just needs to rest and heal.

Whatever you choose to do, make peace with yourself. You’ve chosen that option, and you’re going to give a shot no matter what. Promise yourself 10 days of trying before you move on to something else.

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