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I know where you are coming from. I'm going through some burnout of
my own right now, though the cause doesn't have much to do with
technical writing. If anything, my writing is suffering as a result
of stresses in the activity that is causing the burnout.
Some of the other people posting follow-ups have suggested some
reasonable short term solutions. I get the sense, though, that you
are looking for something a little more long term.
I think you need to take a closer look at your current situation.
What is causing the burnout? Are you taking on more than you can
handle, i.e., agreeing to take on four projects at once when the best
you can do is three? Are you taking on a reasonable number of
projects, and then complimenting that with a gruelling training
session to further develop your skills? Is there something outside of
your work life right now that demands a fair chunk of time, like a
sick parent or demanding teenager?
Your description suggests that, like me, you have let your life get a
bit out of balance.
Perhaps sitting down for a day (probably on a weekend) and taking a
good hard look at what is going on in your life is just what the
doctor ordered. Take a look at your priorities. Are there some
things that can be deferred or eliminated? A course that could be
taken after Christmas. Maybe a project you are considering that could
be better done by another contractor. Maybe some work that could be
subcontracted to someone else.
If you are taking on too much, maybe you need to learn the same lesson
I need to learn right now. That is, learn how to say no. It's always
nice when someone asks us to do something because we are reliable, or
because we one of the best, or because we are just the right person.
It makes us feel valued. But taking on too isn't the way to go. We
don't do our clients, ourselves, or the other people who are important
in our lives any good by trying to be Superman.
I'm not sure if what I'm saying is any help, but I do hope it gives
you something else to think about. And when you decide what you are
going to do, please let us know.
> I hope this isn't off-topic -- it is hard for me to make a judgement
> this one. I think this is something that technical writers (and
> particularly contractors) have to deal with (really anyone with
> deadlines and tight schedules) -- so I'd appreciate your comments.
> So -- with that background (sorry it was so long) -- are there any
> suggestions that you can give me in terms of coping with burnout?
> strategies that are particularly helpful for tech writers or
> anyone with tight shifting deadlines)?
email: johnf -at- ecn -dot- ab -dot- ca