In a world where there’s so much going on and looking at the news for more than five minutes can make you feel as though you’re about to have a heart attack, it sometimes feels a little strange to admit to yourself that you’re in a creative rut, or, in industry terms suffering from ‘blogger burnout’.
This is especially the case when you constantly find yourself constantly struggling to find any words to write (and those you do write, you consider to be trash), but then find yourself feeling guilty for feeling down and a little depressed when your situation could be so much worse.
Anyway, that’s pretty much how I’ve been feeling about my work and creative efforts the past few months. I’ve found it difficult to focus, and whereas I was once able to publish a new post every day, I’m now finding it hard to even publish a post once every few days.
This has not at all been helped by a close to worldwide stand on travel (my expertise in writing for the past half a decade has been based on dishing out travel advice) and the fact that so many of us have taken a huge income hit, particularly those of us in the tourist industry.
When you’re constantly worried about how long your savings can stick out such economic uncertainty, it’s definitely hard to stay motivated. However, I’m more than aware that this post could easily turn into a ‘woe is me’ chapter and in a bid to keep this blog useful (and back to the fact that my situation is honestly fine), I’ve decided to open up a little on tips that helped me get out of my creative rut and get back to blogging!
Are you suffering from blogger burnout?
Do the words just not flow? Are you stuck in a creative rut? Are you struggling to edit your photos the ‘right’ way? Does your blog seem like ‘a chore’? Well, in the online world, this is known as the dreaded ‘blogger burnout’. Luckily, there are plenty of measures you can take to avoid this happening to you, or to end your blogger burnout if you’re currently in the midst of one.
Write in the morning
I don’t know how or why, but this honestly has been the best strategy for me in moving forwards and actually managing to write some words down. In actual fact, the best thing to combat blogger burnout is to sit down at your desk before facing any distractions from the day and simply writing your thoughts down on paper (or on your laptop via the keyboard).
I’ve spoken before about working from home and I truly believe that, the later on in the day it gets, the harder it is to concentrate. As such, the best way to combat all of the distractions that the day will progressively bring, simply start writing as soon as you’re physically able to.
Take regular breaks
The most important lesson for me this year was learning how to give myself a break. I was already feeling a little burnt out creatively when I fell sick towards the end of August. I spent close to two weeks in bed and wasn’t able to do anything, let alone any work.
At first I would panic at the thought of not being able to do anything, but this wasn’t helping me get better any faster. The added layer of forced isolation obviously didn’t help my stress, but being forced to take time off made me realise that my business is not going to collapse under me overnight if I take a few days away from the laptop.
Learning how to give yourself regular breaks is paramount to keeping those creative juices flowing and keeping your work at top quality. Take regular breaks and spend time with friends and family. Spend time away from your work and learn how to switch off your laptop and phone.
When you’re blogging as a business, you can often start to feel guilty for taking time off. However, if you do give yourself permission to take time off, then you’ll more likely come back refreshed, and ready to create much better content!
Whether you love running, cycling, swimming, or simply strolling around your neighbourhood, I find that one of the best ways to calm myself down and take myself out of spiralling into stress is to head out and do a little exercise.
For me, one of the greatest joys in this is heading out to a new neighbourhood or street I’ve never explored before and really putting myself in the moment. I’ll put my phone in aeroplane mode so that I won’t be distracted from social media or messages and I’ll truly soak up the new sights.
Pursue other passions
When you work in a creative field, the pressure to always be creating something new and exciting can start to take a toll. This may sound silly to some, but if you’re relying on your creativity to pay your rent and other bills, then you’ll know what I’m talking about.
One of the best ways to get your creativity flowing again is to take up another creative outlet that’s nothing to do with your work or job. For me, that meant putting down my camera and travel writing material and focusing on trying out new creative hobbies. I tried my hand at painting and I’ve started on my memoir, which will be focused on my first year of Paris (including many horrible and embarrassing dating stories).
Schedule as much as you can in advance
The problem with running a blog (or writing freelance) is that you don’t have someone looking over your shoulder every minute of the day. This is obviously a blessing, but it can definitely also become a curse if you’re feeling unmotivated.
When you work for yourself, you’re the one in charge of your time and how much money you make, which inevitably leads to you being largely in control of whether you’ll be able to pay your bills or not. Making the most of blogging tools (such as Flodesk for email marketing or Canva for creating beautiful pins) will help you save time for down the line when you don’t have the energy or motivation to work.
Remind yourself for the reasons you started your blog
Do you have a passion you want to share with the world? Do you love creating useful and informative content? Reminding yourself of the reasons you started is a great way of getting back on track with your blogging goals.
I personally love teaching people how to better travel, particularly to off the beaten path historical places in Europe, and so coming back to that (and beautiful comments from readers) is always a joy that I tend to forget about when I’m spiralling out of control in a midst of stressing about what I’m doing with my life or the direction my business(es) are heading in!
Learn how to say no!
One of the easiest and fastest ways to end up tiring yourself out way too quickly is by being a ‘yes’ girl. When I try and describe blogging to people who are still confused as to what you actually do all day (and you do a lot!), I’ll tell them it’s like running an online magazine.
However, when it comes to most magazines, there are a bunch of you running the show. When you’re a blogger, you’re a lone team of one and so you’re the social media manager, writer, editor, photographer, and the tech person. It can sure be overwhelming!
That’s when the beauty of saying ‘no’ comes in. Several years ago, I read this article by Mark Manson. Now, I’m not really into self-help things (though you always have room to improve yourself, of course), but this article well and truly changed my life.
Save your time and energy for the things that make you excited about working and blogging. Obviously the same concept can also be applied to the people in your life, but that is a conversation for another day!
Comparison is the thief of joy!
President Theodore Roosevelt once said ‘comparison is the thief of joy’ and it’s a quote I refer back to often since it can be applied to pretty much every aspect of your life. I was recently having a discussion with friends about goals and what we’re ‘meant’ to be doing with our lives (and I’m currently working on a post about this) but today we’ll stick to the subject of comparison in blogging.
The way that social media platforms are designed is to be addictive and to ensure that we spend as much time on the interwebs as possible. We are constantly drawn into liking things on Facebook, following new people on Instagram, and spending hours watching weird and wonderful things on TikTok.
However, what we also all know by now is that this is just the highlights reel of a person’s life. Though it’s becoming more common now, people still refrain from sharing the more negative aspects of their lives.
I often have to stop myself from comparing my numbers, work ethic, and quality of work with others. You are on a different path to everyone else, and often you just need to remind yourself of that. So stop comparing your blog and related social media channels to others. Oh, and leave your jealousy at the door!
Know how much you can realistically achieve in one go (and one day!)
I think that one of the biggest reasons for my blogger burnout was the sense of feeling overwhelmed. When you’re in a creative career, you’re constantly pivoting, trying out new things, and working on multiple projects at a time.
While this is obviously a rewarding pursuit in of itself, it can also very quickly lead to a sense of finding it hard to know what to focus on. Set realistic goals and learn to be okay with not being able to complete everything at once. Having a content calendar (more on this in another post) can help you to focus and set achievable goals day by day.