Writers' Block is a desire to write but a void of inspiration. A wall you keep butting up against.
Writers' Burnout is a void of everything to do with writing. A dangerous state in which writing can almost become the enemy.
Burnout has to be treated very differently from Block. I'll approach Writers' Block in another post, but in a nutshell , burnout is like you're running on empty. Like lifting your fingers to your keyboard is a chore. You can feel as if your writing's going nowhere … so what's the point? It can manifest physically, in headaches, irritability, poor sleep, exhaustion.
Writing is supposed to be a beautiful thing. To me, when it's good, it's like therapy. So what do we do when this therapy becomes torture?
Take personal time. Just like a "real" job, you need to give yourself a break, and take a break. Maybe schedule a week where you just get away from that keyboard. Enjoy whatever fuels you: people, nature, silence, music, etc.
Here are some other suggestions:
- Clean up your workspace. Do you have stacks of notes around? Books? Coffee cups? Find places to put everything so you can put your focus back on writing. You might even want to dust. :)
- Read. Read anything you can, whether it's in your genre or not. What do you like about it? What do you dislike? Is there anything in there that rings a little bell for you? An "aha" moment? Write it down, then keep reading.
- Read "How to Write" books (I especially like Stephen King's "On Writing" because he's so down to earth). Take notes, but don't return to your writing until you're sure you can use some of the advice.
- Write something just for you. Journal. Try your hand at something new, like poetry, non-fiction. Don't plan on showing this to anyone. Just let words work their way back into your heart, where they belong.
- Try writing your current Work In Progress, but from a different perspective. Are you focused on one character? Just for today, put yourself in the place of a different character.
- Write lists. Get all that junk out of your head and onto paper where it's manageable.
- Go for a walk. Hit a beach, museum, movie, walking trail. Take a buddy out for lunch.
- On that same vein, sometimes helping others helps yourself. Donate time to your local Food Bank. Write a handwritten letter to an old friend you haven't seen in a while. Send flowers to someone … just because.
- You might even consider talking to a professional about all this tension or indifference built up inside you.
- Meditate. Breathe. Take care of yourself first. And yes, that means leave the cell phone, the emails, the facebook. Walk away. The world will keep on keeping on while you're gone for however long it takes. People will understand.