BurnoutI’ve just about reached my limit on the emotional and physical energy needed to publicize my books. I’ve blogged, guest blogged (I have a few of those still to come), talked to groups (and scheduled talks) created rack cards (twice since I had to change the release dates from what I’d originally been told), made a contact list and a newsletter to send to those I thought might be interested in these books, created posters, and am now planning a book party to be held in July. Of course I’ve also tweeted, posted on Facebook and LinkedIn and begged for reviews.



According to a psychology article I read, burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. One of the symptoms is feeling like you have little or no control over your work.

I think, in my case, it’s the prolonged bit that’s getting to me. Because of my two books’ ever changing release dates (there’s an example of having no control over your work), I’ve been promoting A Killer Past and Eat Crow and Die since February. I’ve reached a point where I don’t even want to think about these two books…but I must.

So what does a person do?

One recommendation for stress prevention is the “Three R” approach, which is listed in HelpGuide.Org A trusted non-profit guide to mental health and well-being.  Stress Prevention

Three R” Approach”
1. Recognize-Watch for the warning signs of burnout
2. Reverse – Undo the damage by managing stress and seeking support
3. Resilience – Build your resilience to stress by taking care of your physical and emotional health.

I’ve definitely reached the recognize stage. Now I need to start managing my days better by only allowing myself a limited amount of time on promotion. I need to get back to writing.

They do say personality traits contribute to burnout.

The list includes the following:

Personality Traits
1. Perfectionistic tendencies: nothing is ever good enough.
2. Pessimistic view of yourself and the world
3. The need to be in control: reluctance to delegate to others
4. High achieving, Type A personality.

I’m not a perfectionist nor a pessimist, but that bit about needing to be in control and reluctance to delegate to others hits home, and I have been called a Type A personality.

Again, according to that site, there are Physical and Emotional signs and symptoms of burnout.

Physical signs and symptoms are:
1. Feeling tired and drained most of the time
2. Frequent headaches, back pain, muscle aches
3. Lower immunity, feeling sick a lot
4. Change in eating or sleep habits

Emotional signs and symptoms are:
1. Sense of failure and self-doubt
2. Feeling helpless, trapped, and defeated
3. Detachment, feeling alone in the world
4. Loss of motivation
5. Increasingly cynical and negative outlook
6. Decreased satisfaction and sense of accomplishment.

I do wonder if any of the things I’ve been doing will increase sales of these two books, so I guess that fits self-doubt. And I’ve definitely loss my motivation to continue doing this, but I can’t say any of the other features fit how I feel, so I guess I’m not all that burned out.

If anyone reading this blog does have these symptoms, do consider the “Three R” approach I listed above. In fact, I’d suggest you read the entire article at HelpGuide.org  http://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/preventing-burnout.htm

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28 Responses to BURNOUT

  1. Recognizing a problem is always the first step in solving it. Good information here. It’s ironic, isn’t it, that we love our books so much as we are creating them, then get sick of them pretty fast when the promotion end comes around.

    • Maris Soule says:

      In this case, Margo, I think it’s been the drawn out period of promotion that’s really getting me down. That and having to promote two books at the same time. I’m ready to get back to the writing stage.

  2. Elorise Holstad says:

    Maris ~~ thanks for posting such good advice. Those steps can (and do) apply to other situations besides writing and promotion.
    Elorise, who thinks you deserve a nice cuppa, with your feet up.

  3. Great post, Maris. I think what I thought of as “writer’s block” might be the beginnings of burnout. I’ve had headaches and haven’t been motivated to write despite the many challenges that usually spur me on. So I’d better get going on those three R’s! Hope they work for you.

    • Maris Soule says:

      As I said, Patty, I’m limiting my time spent on promotion so I can get back to the writing. I’m hoping that will help. But I’m sorry to hear you’re suffering from headaches. I hope one of those “R”s works for you.

  4. Thanks for posting this, Maris. Very helpful.

  5. Diana Stout says:

    Fantastic blog. Lots of nice details we can all relate to. No wonder I like you so much, I’m a type A, too. Learning to let go has become my mantra of late. At first, it was difficult, but now it gets easier with every release, especially as the sense of freedom follows so closely on the heels of release.

  6. I think I’ve got burnout just reading what you’ve been doing! No wonder it’s starting to wear on you.

    I believe your efforts are paying off though–it seems to me you’ve been everywhere lately, and I surely can’t be the only one noticing.

    Hope the stress eases up as the summer gets nearer and you go back to writing.

  7. Hi, Maris,

    I’m trying not to overdo in the publicizing department, to strike a balance. It’s difficult when we’re told that writers need to network. We have to be careful that we stop being writers and become salespersons instead.

    • Maris Soule says:

      Jacqueline, that’s the problem. I am feeling like a salesperson…and I’m ready to quit. But I know, if I (we writers) don’t do it, who will?

  8. Alyssa Alexander says:

    Great post, Maris. It’s so easy sometimes let all the worries and to-do’s and stress of the to-do’s build up and wear us out. And sometimes all those to-do’s stretch us really thin. I’m hoping the Three R’s work for you and you find your balance soon!

    • Maris Soule says:

      Alyssa, I actually found time today (No, MADE TIME) to work on that short story that’s been sitting around since January. Feels good.

  9. Ann Bennett says:

    I worked through burnout as a teacher. You get through it. My thought is it is a shame writers don’t have promoters like real estate agents to sell their work. Sales is a skill and a talent that a writer may or may not have.

    • Maris Soule says:

      Ann, you are so right. I tried sales for a short (very short) time back in my 20s. I’m just not the right person for sales. I’d rather be in my cubby hole creating stories.

  10. Enid says:

    Best solution: Get a couple of tickets to CALIFORNIA! Come renew, relax with me.

    • Maris Soule says:

      Enid, I can’t begin to tell you how tempting that is right now. California is in a drought, Michigan has flood warnings out for anyone near rivers and lakes. I’m so tired of rain and clouds. I sure wish I could join you for a few days…but, alas, I’m booked up for the next 6 weeks.

  11. Melissa Keir says:

    Wonderful post and I’m sorry you are feeling the stress of this. Everything is stress these days. Your post gave not only the symptoms but also some things to do to help. I’m wrapping up the school year and am so glad to have some time to decompress. When I switched to part time, I physically was exhausted. I needed the extra day to sleep and eat better. Now I’m in a better place and hope you will be soon!

    • Maris Soule says:

      Thanks, Melissa. This promotion bit should be easing off. And boy, do I know what you mean about the end of a school year. Teachers absolutely need that decompression time.

  12. This was me this past year. TWO floods of my house due to broken pipes, the first beginning on the 4th of July only 8 weeks after moving in. And I was moving in less than a month after major surgery (which proved to be the first of 3).

    It takes TIME to retrain the body not to expect stress. Not to mention the unreasonable expectations of others who can’t understand why I didn’t just write, write, write since I had “nothing to do but sit in a quiet house and watch butt cracks.”

    That last person is lucky I didn’t arrange for them to have concrete poured over them! Hmm. Might have to use that in a book…

    • Maris Soule says:

      Beth, if you’re like me, I’m sure you will use some of this in a book. I know I’ve defeated, tortured, or killed a few characters who were (loosely 🙂 ?) based on people in my life.

  13. I’ve experienced periods of burnout from time to time and I suspects it’s because I throw myself into jobs/projects/etc. with too much enthusiasm for too many hours over too long a period. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a real world job or a writing binge or the dreaded promotion phase, I just wear myself out. You’d think by the time I reached this certain age, I would have learned my lesson… 😀

    • Maris Soule says:

      Patricia, I wonder if we ever learn. The problem is we see what needs to be done and we don’t want to stop until we’ve completed the task. Some days I feel like I’m running in circles.