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Burnout Recovery Strategies for Technical Writers

Posted by ClickHelp TeamClickHelp Teamin TechComm Career Path on 9/23/2020 — 2 minute read

a stressed woman

If you are reading this, there’s a high chance you are a technical writer experiencing signs of burnout and willing to do something about it. Let’s first define what burnout is by singling out some of the red flags you should pay attention to. So, you most probably hit burnout when:

  • You lack motivation to work
  • Starting a work day is difficult
  • You procrastinate a lot
  • Even tasks that you found satisfying and enjoyable in the past feel like a chore or even a burden now
  • You often feel tired and irritated
  • You start missing deadlines
  • You don’t sleep well
  • Stress levels in general are over the roof

This is not a happy place to be for sure. What you will find further in this post will help you create a working strategy to get you out of the burnout state.

Find a Purpose

You can hit burnout when you have no clear goal set for what you are doing. Anyone would lose motivation if they felt like there was no real purpose behind it. To find the right one, you will need to have a talk with yourself. What would you like to achieve? You can aim at a promotion or building a great portfolio and gaining enough expertise to get a job in your dream company. Or, maybe, this self-talk will help you discover something you don’t expect at all, like that you want to shift to another career path entirely. Self-analysis is a very powerful method to set the right goals that will be your driver in the long run.

Rethink Your Workload

Sometimes, the cause of burnout is simply working too much. At first, you are fully-energized and feel like you could move tech writing mountains. So, you take on too many duties and have to continuously produce crazy amounts of words per week. Once having set the bar this high, when you do less, you feel like you are slacking out. And, being simply tired from overworking is multiplied by guilt of not doing enough. Take a look at your tasks and try to be honest with yourself. Are you overworking? If yes, this has to stop.

happy person at workdesk

Take a Longer Break

Going somewhere on a weekend can hardly help you replenish the lost vital energy. Plan for something bigger. If you are the overworking type, you probably have enough free days to go vacationing for 2-3 weeks. Or, if you are freelancing and/or feel like you are alright financially, try to set up a ‘mini-retirement’ for yourself. A couple of months off can do wonders. However, when you are back on track, don’t make the same mistake of overloading your schedule.

Maybe This Is Not Exactly Your Cup of Tea?

Now, I am not saying quit being a tech writer. What I am saying is tech comm offers plenty of possibilities. So, maybe, this particular field where you are help authoring is what’s causing the burnout in the first place. For example, being a medical writer is a noble occupation. However, it is one thing when you have a fitting background and are genuinely interested in medicine. But when you have to work your way through endless reference materials and often stay up late to catch up with the projects because this industry is completely new to you is a whole other story.

Sometimes, it is useful to look back and reevaluate your efforts. You might feel way better doing tech writing for another industry. Or, it can be a completely different kind of tech writing, too. Technical writers can work on process documentation, presentations, training materials and brochures, white papers, you name it!

vacation van on the beach


Burnout happens. Sometimes, we prefer to ignore the first symptoms hoping it will go away. However, I recommend taking this seriously – the earlier you are able to catch it, the easier it will be to deal with it.

Good luck with your technical writing!
ClickHelp Team
Author, host and deliver documentation across platforms and devices

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