Monday, November 12, 2012


If you're like me, you like to work hard. If you're a writer (or any kind of artist), you like to devote a ton of time and energy to your craft to the point that it almost borders on obsession. Also, if you're like me, you may work a day job, too, so that leaves you with very little YOU time.

Often I reach a point where I feel totally drained. I've given all of my energy to my day job or my writing. I spend countless hours on the Internet trying to respond to emails and Tweets and Facebook posts in a polite, timely manner. And I reach the point of getting burned out.

I have found that the best thing to do when you reach this burnout stage is to Unplug. If you have a day off from your day job, you don't have to spend every waking minute on your hobby. It's GOOD to get away from it all, to unplug your laptop, to (gasp!) turn off your cell phone! Just leave it behind for a little while--it'll be there when you get back; I promise.

Get out in nature, if you can. Take a walk. Or if that's impossible, go to a quiet room in your house where there's a window. Open the curtains and let the daylight in. Sit and let your mind drift away from all the things it feels chained to, and soon you might get an idea of just the thing you need to do to make you feel refreshed. Go with your instincts--unless they're saying to plug in and get back online. Don't do that. Rewind back to a time when we didn't have all this technological distraction. What did you do for fun back then? How did you feed your creativity? How did you nourish your soul?

That's what I'm doing today. I'm writing this post, and then I'm turning it all off. I'm going to clean house, maybe decorate a little, possibly go to the library. I'm going to paint my toenails and read a book and cuddle with my little weenie dog.

Don't worry, I'll be back, and probably sooner than I think. But bottom line is this: unplugging, even just for 30 minutes, is sometimes necessary. So when you feel stressed out, try having some YOU time, too!


  1. Such great advice. People would be amazed how much more relaxed they would feel if they didnt have themselves on call all the time

    1. The cell phone boom has been great in so many ways, but it does indeed make a person feel chained to his or her phone sometimes.

  2. Back in the days when I had a day job, and I was feeling very burned out on music -- or, as it seems more likely to me now, on life in general -- a friend encouraged me to take a vacation from it. I lived in a large storefront at the time, which is where the band practiced, and there were instruments everywhere...amplifiers....a PA system...miles of cabling. Simply gobs and gobs of gear. I spent the better part of a weekend packing everything away into a back storage area, under lock and key. It was important, my friend said, to remove the equipment from sight to prevent temptation to go to it, yes, but also to allow other objects to come into frame. When I'd completed, my space looked so bear. Just books, a desk, a computer, and...nothing else. It took a couple of days adjusting to not making music, and a several more days to adjust to not thinking about it. I didn't feel bored, exactly, but certainly out of sorts. That feeling one gets six weeks into a two-month travel trip around Europe. Unsettled. Belonging literally neither here nor there. Just to have something to do, I started going to the beach every evening for sunset. At first, of course, I had to make myself go, but after a short time, I made sure to structure the day to ensure plenty of time for the daily trip. I found places where I liked parking my car, which walking routes were the best for a good view of sunset, and which street people really needed a dollar and which were just mucking about. At the end of the two weeks, it felt so marvelous to be doing what I was doing that I gave myself an additional two weeks vacation from music. Towards the end of that two weeks, I began to feel that tremendous pull back home. My life has never been the same after that vacation from my work, and it was after that, in fact, that my career began to take on a mature shape and move forward. So, this is a long-winded way of saying that I agree with you. Unplugging allows perspective and context to come into focus, and perspective and context support progress.

    1. Deon, that Europe vacation of yours sounds incredible. I work a day job that requires a lot of evenings, weekends, and holidays, and it makes it hard to find time to spend with friends and family. I find myself off work when a lot of other people are working (Mondays, for instance), and I have had to teach myself how to get out and enjoy things all by myself. But if you can do it, it makes you more aware of the world around you, it makes you more independent, and it makes you more adventurous.