Writing can be an exceptionally strenuous task on the mind, especially if you're using the same brain muscles in a full-time or another job that makes up most of your income. Sometimes, this can be difficult to deal with as you know you need to 'switch off' sometimes, but then you may worry that you won't be able to be as consistent as you'd like with your writing. This is why it is so important to prioritise your mental health, and here are some tips to do just that!
Take regular breaks
When you're writing, make sure you're taking regular breaks, even if it's just for five or ten minutes to allow your brain some time to rest and avoid burnout. One thing that I love about our Patreon Discord group is that we host regular writing sprints for half-hour at a time, and we'll allow a short break in-between time slots for our mental health. During this break time, try and stretch your legs or get away from the laptop/notebook you're working from. This way it'll be easier to clear your mind and you'll find that, when you go to write again, you feel a little more refreshed.
Find what makes you relax
Sometimes, even by taking a break from your writing, you may not know what to do to relax, so I suggest finding what helps you be less stressed. There are many things that help people relax, and they're different for each individual. For me, lighting candles and taking baths help me relax and whenever I'm feeling particularly stressed or burnt out, I feel that a bath always helps. For others, they may take a walk, workout, spend some time with their animals, friends or family.
Establish a routine
To boost your productivity and reduce the burnout you may feel, give yourself a structure. Try to establish a day-to-day routine and allow yourself anywhere from half an hour to two or three hours to write. By giving yourself a routine, you're telling your brain that this time you select is the time that you write, and after that it can have a rest, and the more you do this routine, the easier that you'll find it is to write and to relax.
To ensure that you're still keeping your mind word focussed, but also giving it a break from writing, try reading instead! Reading is such a great tool for mental health as it's generally very therapeutic. You'll also find that reading can inspire your writing, and reduce burnout. If you're struggling to write a scene, or are stuck on what to do next in your story, take a deserved break and read a book instead.
Have rest days
This step is my most valued! Do not write every day. Much like when you workout, you need to give your muscles time to rest and it is the same for your brain. Give yourself regular rest days to ensure that you're avoiding burnout. On these days, try to do something separate from writing, so put your laptop away and get some fresh air outside.
Set realistic goals
Don't try to achieve 10,000 words every day because, unless you're spending 8 - 10 hours a day writing, it's just not possible to achieve this goal and have good, quality content. I would encourage you to set yourself realistic goals to keep yourself motivated, structured and keep you from reaching burnout. I can't give you a target number of words to achieve, as I don't know how much you usually write. For example, in half-hour I usually achieve 300 - 500 words, but you may be able to write more or less than that.
Be kind to yourself
This article is all about prioritising your mental health, and one of the most important points here is to be kind to yourself. One of my biggest flaws is that I am generally an impatient person, so I really struggled with wanting to rush through my work to get it published, or sent to beta readers/ARC reviewers. However, I continuously had to remind myself that self-publishing is very rewarding because I get to set my deadlines and I get to say when the work needs to be ready. I constantly need to remind myself that I have all the time in the world and that there really is no pressure. So, please, be kind to yourself. You're doing great, and you have all the time in the world to achieve your dreams.
Get help when you need it
Finally, if you're feeling really stressed, burnout or low in mood and you feel that nothing is helping please do reach out to someone, whether it's family, friends or even a counsellor. You may find that there are other things that are making you feel the way you are, that may not even be writing related, so please reach out to someone and get the help you need. I'll be the first to share that, right now as of writing this, I receive counselling every other week and there's absolutely no shame in admitting that. Please know that you can always reach out to me via email, social media or Discord and I'll try and offer advice and help as best as I can, even if you just want to vent or have a catch up. I'll always listen.