Reader Question: Do you ever experience burn out? What do you do when it happens?

A few years ago, I would have said no, I’ve never experienced burn out.  On the other hand, I have experience writer’s block, but there was a definite God-designed reason for it.  I had become a Christian, and God wanted me to get to know Him before embarking on any new writing projects.  The result of that three-year, often frustration hiatus taught me to focus and depend on Jesus. The result was Redeeming Love. 

When I finished The Masterpiece, I did feel burned out. Exhausted.  Creative juices drained away into a sandy desert.  No oasis in sight.  Usually I have an idea already brewing before a manuscript is done. Not this time. I had one little idea that went nowhere.  I had no strong sense of where I was going next; no question plaguing me, no characters whispering.

What do you do when you burn out?  I waited. I knew I wasn’t finished working.  Christians don’t retire. We just do something new. I didn’t jump into anything right away. I stayed busy, mostly organizing work on our home, a fixer-upper, and getting dirty in the back yard.  Who knew clearing, pruning, weeding and planting could be so much fun?

Rick said he needed a break (after ten plus years) of teaching our Tuesday evening Bible study and asked me to take over. Teaching a weekly Bible study wasn’t something I felt equipped to do, but neither of us wanted to close the doors after thirty-two years.  Teaching is definitely out of my comfort zone, but I’m finding the deep study and prep work challenging as well as fulfilling.

Something else came up. After reading another script for Redeeming Love that seemed to miss the primary message, I thought: why not write the script myself?  If I fail, at least I tried. I read books on script writing and got to work.  Now that it’s finished, I’m waiting to see what becomes of it.

Two more writing projects have cropped up, both far from what I “normally” do, but both something I’ve wanted to do.  A Bible study and companion 40-day devotional, each a collaborative effort with two extraordinary women I admire.

Burn out feels more like a long breather from the usual, a chance to stretch and experiment.  Will I write another novel?  A year ago, I would have said no, probably not.  Now?  Possibly.  A couple of characters are whispering, and scenes are rolling in my head.