Does Burger Burnout Apply to Writing?

For a while when I was in high school, I was a sundae slinger at a burger-and-custard joint that had been a landmark establishment in my midsized Midwestern town since, I believe, the 1940s.

As a small child in the 80s in the company of family and friends, I enjoyed burgers and custard at Pig ‘n Whistle, but as an employed teen in the 90s with free food at hand, I rarely partook in the delectable offerings of the delicious drive-in car-hop that partially inspired Happy Days.

What came over me? Why would a teenager pass up creamy custard and buttery burgers? Maybe it was because I smelled the grease too much on Friday- and Saturday-night shifts, or because I was too busy planning on drinking OE 800 at the park after we closed, or because I dropped too many 30-pound stainless-steel cylinders of custard freshly hauled from the vat onto my toe. Whatever the case, I always boiled it down to overexposure–I burned out on the delights I served up to others for $4.25 an hour. I was around burgers and custard all the time, so I simply had no interest in them.

Later I worked at a Big Boy and never ate there; I never had my clothes dry cleaned when I worked at a dry cleaner (not that I would have otherwise); I never ate the free pies as an employee of Baker’s Square. Those taste like chemicals and 74 ingredients anyway, but the reason I figured that out is burnout. Overexposure. You know how easy it is to take the piss out of the shit you do for a living.

When I started freelance editing a ton, I burned out on that. I remained capable of tweaking pseudoacademic drivel and cutsey crafty fluff, but I got overexposed. Burnt out. “Other people’s shit,” I called the stuff I edited. And because I scrutinized words and grammar and syntax with an editorial microscope pretty much eight days a week, I really didn’t read for pleasure for about two years. My eyes were burnt out. My brain was overexposed.

So when I moved from proofreading to copywriting at my day job I was somewhat concerned that my pleasure writing would suffer.

But I’m finding that quite the opposite is the case. I’m a copy machine all day, cranking out PPC landing pages and text ads and industry news and promo emails (and also editing other people’s quality writing), and then I come home and keep writing. The more I write, the more I write. Words flow from my fingers. It’s true what they say in writing circles: Write every day. Because when you do, your shit flows better. Thus The House on the Lake has not suffered–because I’ll never burn out on writing.

And here’s why. Somewhere between the custard slinging and the freelance editing, I worked at a cafe where we made spectacular food. We crafted herbed almond mayonnaise, olive spread, zucchini bread, chili, hummus, tahini, Thai peanut soup . . . the list is endless . . . and then we ate the food we made (and served) because it was good.

Not that burgers and custard aren’t good–they’re heaven–but the food we made at Brewed was nourishing, and in this age of dwindling quality, you can’t burn out on something that’s ace. In this vein, writing copy for a quality company that aims to help people is inspiring, and writing copy all day is addictive, so it fuels me rather than drains me. Burger burnout need not apply to my writing enterprise.


About Erin Harris

I'm a copywriter by day and a fiction writer by night. I also write about food, travel, music, film, and much more.
This entry was posted in Content writing, Editing, Writing and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Does Burger Burnout Apply to Writing?

  1. Becky B says:

    I am so glad your much-needed (and stunning!) creativity at work has positively influenced your writingness in all directions everywhere else. I know you’ll never burn out as long as there is a you. Thank goodness for you!


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