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How I Got Through Burnout by C.F. White
Thanks so much for having me over on the blog today to tell you all about my latest release, Fade to Blank (London Lies #1). But first, I thought I’d write a post about burnout and writer’s block and how I managed to dig myself out of those holes!
When I first started to take my writing seriously, after decades of procrastination, I found the process relatively easy. But that was all due to my naivety and not understanding the craft and process of what it takes to produce a published-worthy book. Back then, all I wanted to do was get those characters out of my head onto a page and I did it with such speed I thought I was destined for this!
I also started online, writing on the platform Wattpad. On there, you are expected to upload chapters at least weekly to keep your followers interested and returning for more. Therefore, speed outweighed quality for much of my early writing. My first book, The District Line, was picked up by the Wattpad features department and I had snippets in Cosmopolitan magazine as well as being the featured book on the platform for six months. That elevated the book and me into quite a substantial following on there. So haste became even more important.
It wasn’t until I entered into the real world of publishing, that I slowed down to take a look at my craft. That’s when the troubles of writer’s block, or maybe burnout crept up on me.
For about four years, I published two trilogies and started on a couple of other series. All of those were written relatively fast on Wattpad and then edited, re written and polished for publishing. Then came the point where I was writing fresh. Where I had been through the editing process and I started to look at my writing differently. I wanted to polish it first rather than splurge it onto a page and move on. In doing that, the whole thing slowed me down. I wasn’t writing as fast because I wanted what ended up on a page to be perfect. My characters seemed to take a seat and not want to talk to me either. I went through a period I guess we call writer’s block, or burnout.
It’s a horrible thing to go through as a writer. Especially one who is just starting out and searching for their readership and wanting to please them. The idea is to keep writing, keep producing books. So when you sit at your laptop and it’s like wading through Marmite, it can seriously damage your self esteem and you start to question whether you really had it in you to be a writer in the first place. It’s soul destroying. Imposter syndrome creeps up, fear and anxiety that all those other books already out there are terrible or weren’t really yours to begin with.
So, what did I do to over come it?
I can’t honestly say I totally overcame the writers block. I think we, as writers, will often go through peaks and troughs where one week we can throw out ten thousand words whereas the next we can’t even write an ‘and’ or an ‘it’ without questioning what its doing there and if it’s even important. The trick is to accept it. To acknowledge that this moment is temporary. That your mind is telling you to kick back, give it a rest, chill out. Which I did try to do. However, with limited time—I’m a full time working mum of two, one with complex special needs, so having the time to write is a huge factor for me—I would often feel guilty at not using those golden gems of moments I was free to write, to actually write.
But it’s important not to force it. Because therein lies trouble ahead.
So having been through those awful moments of feeling guilty for not writing, feeling a failure for not being able to produce what my publisher is asking me for, for being an imposter…here’s a few things I did to ease those niggling thoughts and get back on track.
- Very important. It’s universally acknowledged that writers should read anyway. And they should read a variant of genres. But also widely in their own genre. But I find when I’m in the midst of a flow of creativity in my own work, reading is often a hindrance. So take those moments where things aren’t flowing so easily to read. Search for books that might be a little similar to the one your writing, then you might find it kicks start something in you. If not, well, you’re reading. So it’s a bonus.
- I often go back to old work and tinker with it. It helps to remember that you can write. That the ability is there and that you can always improve. I found when I went into audio production with my District Line series that there’s a craft in writing for audio. So I went back, got to my older works or those I hadn’t yet published and tinkered with them for an audio listener.
- Go for a walk. A run. Exercise. Or a day to just stroll and take in the world. There’s a lot of beauty out there, go look at it and you might find inspiration in the weirdest of places. Or, even better, try to visit the scene of your book… pretend you are your character. Whenever I wanted to get into Jay for the District Line series head, I’d don my trainers and head out for a run. Because that’s exactly what he would do. If I was struggling with Seb, I’d crack on listening to some indie rock music. So basically, do whatever it is your character would do if they were struggling (although, in hindsight, perhaps not if their vice is alcohol or hardcore drugs…..)
- Write something completely different. Take a chance on something you wouldn’t normally go for. I write mostly mm. So during a time of real writer’s block, I started writing a dark comedy with an m/f romantic element. I got up to 10k words when it kick started me to carry on with the mm book I’d left. It was a great turnaround, as I then finished that book and it’s ready for the shelf!
They’re just a few tips that I did to help me through those moments of feeling burn out. They might help, they might not. If anything, they are things to try in those moments. Oh, and don’t forget to check in with author friends. They will have been through this too. You’re not alone!
About the Author
Brought up in a relatively small town in Hertfordshire, C F White managed to do what most other residents try to do and fail—leave.
Studying at a West London university, she realised there was a whole city out there waiting to be discovered, so, much like Dick Whittington before her, she never made it back home and still endlessly search for the streets paved with gold, slowly coming to the realisation they’re mostly paved with chewing gum. And the odd bit of graffiti. And those little circles of yellow spray paint where the council point out the pot holes to someone who is supposedly meant to fix them instead of staring at them vacantly whilst holding a polystyrene cup of watered-down coffee.
She eventually moved West to East along that vast District Line and settled for pie and mash, cockles and winkles and a bit of Knees Up Mother Brown to live in the East End of London; securing a job and creating a life, a home and a family.
After her second son was born with a rare disability, C F White’s life changed and brought pen back to paper having written stories as a child but never the confidence to show them to the world. Now, having embarked on this writing journey, she can’t stop. So strap in, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
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Fade To Blank (London Lies #1) is out now!
Accused of a murder he didn’t commit, vilified celebrity Jackson Young enlists the help of a rookie journalist to clear his name and write his biography.
Jackson has a secret though. One he must keep from becoming public. But Fletcher’s dreamy green eyes, Irish drawl and effortless charm makes it hard to suppress those long-buried feelings, even if it could compromise his innocence.
Uncovering the murky past behind Jackson’s rise to fame, Fletcher grows closer to a man he’d once declared as talentless, and their intense attraction starts to affect not only his professional integrity but the life he’d made since moving to London.
Falling for the subject of his book could be fatal for Fletcher, and Jackson should know better than to trust a journalist.
Fade to Blank is the first book in the London Lies trilogy set in 1999, and is a slow burn, enemies to lovers, hurt/comfort romantic suspense.
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