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Blog Briefs: On Burnout, with Gillian Polack

In which a bunch of authors & editors are invited to answer the question: How do you deal with creative exhaustion?

A couple years back Gillian Polack gave me an inspiring task: follow your heart. Well, I’ve summarised our discussion rather relentlessly there, but that’s my number one take-away from a 2-hour conversation we had one evening for which I’m still grateful.

Whenever I find myself at a point beyond which I can’t see where to go because it’s all been too much emotionally, I play.  I play with ideas; I play with crafts; I play with food; I play with kids (of all ages); I play on the internet; I read books of all kinds; I watch TV; I sit on committees; I go shopping; I go for walks; I folkdance; I play with ideas (and call it research):  I do a whole range of things that aren’t writing and don’t directly contribute to my writing.  Creative exhaustion fades magically and all I’m left with is a faint sense of guilt for having a good time. Writing for me is partly about integrating play with work – get the balance right and even exhaustion can be creative. 

– Some of Gillian’s less fictional writing can be found at BiblioBuffet and elsewhere