Thursday, 25 February 2016

WBD Burn Out by Tamsyn Murray

It's the week before World Book Day. For a lot of children's authors, this is the calm before the storm. Perhaps, like me, you've got a few visits booked in this week to warm you up for the main event; a full on marathon run of back-to-back school visits all week. It sounds crazy to think in those terms: warm up, marathon etc but I've recently come to realise that it's not a bad idea to think of the coming week as something you can nurture yourself through. School visits are hard work, although a lot of fun they're exhausting too, and those of use who are booked for the whole week (and for days either side too) should remember to look after ourselves, perhaps the way an athlete might.

Don't get me wrong, there is no one I am less likely to be compared to than an actual athlete. But it occurred to me this year, for the first time ever, that this intensive week of school visits might pose a risk to my health. A friend was saying that she'd deliberately taken on fewer WBD week bookings this year because she became ill in 2015 (not solely because of school visits, I'm sure) and she didn't want to make herself unwell again by doing too much. Abie Longstaffe was telling me she'd given herself permission not to write for the duration of her events, because the school visits would tire her out. And it occurred to me that using all my energy on school visits might be overdoing it. This probably sounds crazy (not to  mention obvious) but I'd simply never thought of it that way.

I can't afford the time to be ill; not when it could be avoided. So I'm going to make a special effort to be kind to myself over the next ten days. I'm going to make sure I eat properly and drink lots of water. I'm going to avoid working late into the night to catch up on work missed while I was at a school; I'm getting some early nights. I'm going to recognise that school visits are mentally and physically demanding and I am going to respect them by looking after myself. As Abie Longstaffe said, 'for the next few weeks I won't be a writer, I'll be someone who visits schools.'

So I thought I'd write this blog post to remind all us writerly athletes, limbering up for the marathon of WBD week, to take care of ourselves. To give ourselves permission to say no to other commitments that might drain us further and leave us susceptible to ill health. To avoid the kind of burn out that might cause us health problems later on. To cut ourselves some slack during the crazy busy time. Who's with me?

4 comments:

Joan Lennon said...

Wise words!

Emma Barnes said...

You're so right! I'm nursing a slight sore throat at the moment and just hoping it doesn't linger into next week when I'll need my voice!

Rhian Ivory said...

Brilliant. I am going to give myself permission not to write next week too. I'm doing school visits every day and had planned to write during the evening in the hotel but I'm going to take a nice book to read instead and leave my laptop at home.
Glad I read this.

C.J.Busby said...

I fel exactly the same - I got tonsilitus half way through the week last year, and found myself in a Travelodge in Woking mid-week with a temperature of about 102 and no voice whatseover! I did the Woking visit (I have never felt so ill! but the kids were lovely and all were very understanding of my whispers!!) but cancelled my last day of the week. This year I'm really trying hard to stay well but it's a bad tie of year for lurking viruses...