Writer’s Burnout: the Discipline of Gratitude

Gratitude, like writing, is a process, an art. I think of Julia Cameron’s famous advice to write 3 hours of longhand each morning to jumpstart the creative process, which I could make time for but typically prefer to spend cuddling the baby – helping oldest daughter put on socks – checking fridge contents for grocery errands post-work – checking email; these and innumerable other tasks. But unlike writing, one can be grateful as one does these things.

Why does it matter? At its core, writing is an act of generosity, of nurturing, of giving. I’ve learned the hard way that one must be filled with something in order to give. Lately I’ve been feeling burned out, blue and hollow and hollow following a high performance streak of give – give – give — giving to family, to clients, to the Muse. Now I’m running low, coasting towards empty. I want days of lounging, slow living, moving at the uncertain pace of my four-year-old sometimes quick and sometimes slow, but always in the moment.

That’s not happening.

We’ve got a startup happening, bills to pay, kids to nurture. Taxes to pay, socks to be mended, family dinners to attend.

But as a friend sharing her considerable burdens reminded me, I have time to be grateful. And in that moment, when we remember and give thanks for what blessings we have, the inner well starts to fill; not completely,  but enough to see a sheen of moisture on those dry rocks, enough to oil the gears, resolve the block and let me flow onwards.

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