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How to stay fresh when writing becomes work

When you do something professionally, whether it’s a full-time gig that pays the bills or part-time work to get that walking-around money, it can become monotonous. To be honest, the odds are that, at some point, writing becomes work for you.

In some cases, that monotony could be a welcome development. I’ve worked some unfulfilling jobs where routine has provided a welcome refuge. But if you are lucky enough to earn a paycheck to do something you love, the tedium that comes from repetition is something you really have to watch out for and guard against.

Frustrated young author

I find writing to be fulfilling work, personally and professionally, and I manage a good balance of writing for myself and writing for others (now largely readers on the internet)—writing I’m compensated for and writing I’m not—but sometimes that balance has felt askew and, as a result, writing becomes not much more than work.

What to do in a situation like this? How can a writer keep their work fresh and prevent burnout? Here are three practices I’ve found that help me keep my writing personally relevant and moving in new directions.

Keeping a journal

I know it sounds like an assignment from your high school English teacher, but keeping a journal (the pen and paper kind) has allowed me an entirely reflective space for my writing. Although I write on the web and enjoy writing for an audience, the opposite arrangement helps me stay sane.

When writing becomes work, it’s great to step back and write for pleasure. Journals offer the perfect way to unload your ideas (the ones you can’t write in the company blog).

Using Twitter

I thought Twitter was a vapid platform initially. I mean 140 characters? Micro-blogging? My attention span is short enough as is! But the more time I spend on Twitter, the more interesting I think it is. It’s basically a super social constraint-based writing club that demands clarity and brevity and encourages experimentation.

Taking time off(line)

This one is sort of the crux, but also a bit a catch-all: I write better for the internet when I take time away from it. It’s easy to get comfortable in an echo chamber, but echoes don’t make for fresh ideas. Whether it’s reading or cooking or traveling when I can, I tend to bring something back to my work when I give myself a break from the net (whatever form that takes).

Some of these things might work for you, some might not. You’ve probably got similar suggestions so let me know in the comments!

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