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Blog Briefs: On Burnout, with Sean Williams

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

I just knew prolific author & all-round good-guy Sean Williams would have something valuable to say about this. Read through to his one-line bio to see why. Today he answers: What strategies do you recommend to writers & artists to address creative exhaustion?


Stave it off at all costs. It’s a bit like RSI in that once you’ve got it, it’s a bugger to get rid of. I don’t have any magic tricks to keep it at bay, just solid, well-tried techniques that anyone could tell you about that might do the truck, if maintained regularly when you see the spectre looming. So . . . exercise (a one hour walk in noise-reduction headphones, with or without appropriate music, can have a powerfully restorative effect); meditation (ditto); a change of scenery; a temporary change of project (I always like to have something deeply uncommercial lurking in the wings, the crazier the better); a change of routine; a change of voice in your head (talk to someone else about your project, even, perhaps especially, if you hate doing that); and, when all else fails, try forbidding yourself from working on the project for a day, a week, a month–whatever it takes for your subconscious to rebel. Remember, you WANT to do this. That’s why you started, right? You WANT to finish, right? And maybe, just maybe, if none of these techniques work, there’s an important realization right there. (I only said that to get you moving.)

– Ten years ago, Sean Williams wrote nine novels in thirty months and lived to tell the tale.