Is It Really Burnout?

Depressed man


If you’ve lost your get-up-and-go and loathe the idea of writing, you might be tempted to self-diagnose and decide you’re suffering from burnout.

Alas, this might merely be yet another creative form of resistance.  I’ve seen several group discussions lately, where “burnout” is tossed around casually, as a reason why writers don’t write.

But is it really burnout?

“Burnout”, according to Psychology Today, is state of chronic stress (not an inability to write), that leads to clinical psychological conditions:

  • physical and emotional exhaustion
  • cynicism and detachment
  • feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment.

Symptoms of these three states include:

Signs of physical and emotional exhaustion:

  1. Chronic fatigue.
  2. Insomnia.
  3. Forgetfulness/impaired concentration and attention
  4. Physical symptoms.
  5. Increased illness.
  6. Loss of appetite.
  7. Anxiety
  8. Depression.
  9. Anger.

Signs of Cynicism and Detachment

  1. Loss of enjoyment.
  2. Pessimism.
  3. Isolation.
  4. Detachment.

Signs of Ineffectiveness and Lack of Accomplishment

  1. Feelings of apathy and hopelessness.
  2. Increased irritability.
  3. Lack of productivity and poor performance.

As you can see, the inability to write is merely one of a host of symptoms.  Those symptoms impact every aspect of your life, not just writing.

If you just can’t bring yourself to write, but you’re doing fine in other areas of your life, the chances are, you’re not suffering from burnout.

However, if you feel that most of these symptoms are present in your life, then you should seek professional help.  Burnout and any of the associated states are serious conditions that lead to long term health issues.

Once you have addressed the stressors, the chances are good that you’ll return to writing with renewed enthusiasm and creativity.


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