A coaching client of mine asked about freelance writers burnout. She pointed me to ‘Existing On A Plane Of Burnout’: An Intersectional Discussion On Millennials And More which talks about millennial burnout.
As I understand it, millennials are feeling particularly subject to burnout for a wide variety of reasons. Symptoms include, according to How Millennials Became The Burnout Generation, inability to get even the simplest of life tasks done, like mailing a letter because they are exhausted. The author, Anne Helen Petersen, also calls it “errand fatigue.” She cites examples to the ennui that prevents them from returning clothes that don’t fit to running up large fines at the local library because they simply don’t seem to have the energy that makes them able to return the bag of books at all, let alone on time.
Not just millennials, writers burnout too
Maybe we should be grateful that millennials have brought attention to this phenomena and given it a name. I know I suffer from this from time-to-time and I’m hardly a millennial! I hear the same thing from other writers, editors, and maybe all my creative friends. We seem to hit periods where we don’t deal well, or even at all, with the mundane.
Petersen suggests that as our society has changed from one of “relative economic and political stability” to one with, at a minimum, economic and political confusion, it’s no longer certain or even likely that many people will be able to earn more than their parents, yet they’ve been taught to expect just that. The result is a tendency to consistently overwork, trying to make that mark, which is probably unattainable, at least in the way it used to be.
As a freelance writer I know I can push myself to burnout because I’ve done it more than once. It happens, or starts to happen for me when I simply spend too much time at the keyboard. How much is too much time? These days, it’s roughly more than four hours. Although I can push myself to 6 hours or more, I’m a wreck the next day.
Creativity takes energy. We spend that energy and we need to replenish it, to re-create it with rest, good food, some social activity and some exercise – all in the way that works best for you.
As the economic model has changed, pressures mount. So many millennials expected support from their parents for their advanced education, and didn’t get it. So many have incredible student debt with under employment a real threat. The changes in our culture have created pressure for them, for all of us actually. Now, as always, we have to figure out how to work with the changes.
As human beings, particularly those in the middle class I think, tend to believe we can push ourselves hard enough to overcome societal changes. We can’t always. Sometimes we need to step back and figure out how to take care of ourselves in new ways. Ways that allow our minds to relax and open to as yet un-thought ideas. I find both meditation and naps work well for that.
What’s your secret?
Write well, and often,