A freelancer’s life is all about taking the skills you have and putting them to use for other people. That is nearly the extent of it. We do it, and we do it a lot. It is hard to say that you will never reach that point when you just can’t do it anymore. You will have times when you can’t write another word; there will be times when you are tired of adjusting one little vector point, and there will be moments when you want take the nearest sharp object and stab your monitor. While I hope no freelancer ever gets desperate enough to destroy an expensive object, burnout happens.
I love writing. I can do it, and I can do it efficiently and fast. Sometimes, I don’t want to do it. It’s hard to keep taking orders, and punching them out. It isn’t because the writing is on a difficult topic, but it sometimes turns into a never-ending cycle of monotony. I want to disconnect my keyboard and throw it out the window. I never want to type another general sales copy or PR copy for any other client. My brain can’t take the stress it takes when I get bored of it. Sometimes I can see myself never writing another copy, but keep in mind, this is something I enjoy.
What do you do when you reach this point? Others will say it is time to take a break. Walk away from your work and take a ride on your bike around the block. Buy an expresso at the nearest coffee shop to get pepped up. Have some fun doing something you enjoy, preferably as far away from your freelance workplace and accessories (computer) as soon as possible. Some will even advise a full blown vacation. If you have the time, the money, and can get away from your clients, I’d take up the last point in an instance. I’m already in Thailand though, so it is nearly a vacation everyday, and the beach is a 5 minute walk from my apartment anyways.
What do I do when I am burned out? I just tell myself to suck it up and finish the project. When it gets this bad, it is usually the bad projects though. These are the projects I started up that I should have turned down. These are the “I need 100 articles on the same topic articles” clients. This is the boring freelance writing work that should be taken by those prepared to take the topics, or desperate enough to need the money to write them. Anyways, I tell myself that I need to get these things done, and force myself to sit down and undertake as quickly as possible. In the end, is it all that bad? Usually, not so. It may have just been a bad day, or I just felt a need to complain.
All freelance writers and designers, marketers and consultants, or any other type of freelancer will experience this. It isn’t uncommon by any means. It is something we need to find a solution to, though. Whether it requires you to give yourself a kick in the butt or take a nice walk on a foreign beach, there should be some sort of various answer to your freelance burnout problem.
If you can’t find a solution, you may need to reexamine whether or not freelancing is really for you.