17.51: Feel The Burn

Your Hosts: Dongwon Song, Piper J. Drake, Peng Shepherd, Marshall Carr, Jr., and Erin Roberts

Let’s talk about burnout. It’s been a long few years (with some of those years feeling like decades) so this may seem timely, but burnout can happen during otherwise ordinary times. Ignoring it or simply trying to “burn smarter, not harder” can have serious repercussions.

In this episode we talk about why we burn out, how we recognize it, how we deal with it, and how we (eventually) recover from it.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Matthew Drake, and mastered by Alex Jackson.


Write a kind, delightful, helpful letter to your burnt-out future self.

Wings Once Cursed & Bound, by Piper J. Drake (coming in April, 2023)

6 thoughts on “17.51: Feel The Burn”

  1. Perfect timing!!!
    I’ve been working on the same world full of characters for 8 years, but stopped writing their stories nearly 3 years ago…
    I finally got myself to pick up a pen again and write. I just passed 20,000 words of my first book.
    My 80,000 word goal was a looming stress for me until I asked myself to recall how much I love this story. Theses stories that I want to write are the stories I would tell myself when I was a kid before so go to bed and later dream of them. I have to remind myself that this complex world of characters I have manifested is my greatest work, and yet no one knows about it. Yet.
    To help motivate myself, I finally reached out to a well read co-worker and told him that I’ve been writing a book. I asked him if he would be willing to read my first chapter, and now he won’t stop asking to get more!
    The past few weeks has consisted of me writing like mad after so many dry years, just so I can keep up with my new friend!

  2. This week, Dongwon, Piper, Peng, Marshall, and Erin talked about burnout. How do you get there, how do you recognize it, and what can you do about it? Heart attacks, changing genres, lockdown, online teaching, emotional shifting as a writer? How do you recognize burn out? Learn your tells. Sometimes bad writing is better than no writing at all. Consider, do I take a break or do I write myself over the hump? Brushing the dog? Playing golf, making furniture? Lots of great discussion you can now read in the transcript available in the archives.

  3. Almost positive the book Piper mentions is Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski.

  4. Alright burnt out PT, it’s time to talk to yourself like you would talk to one of your patients.

    We have established quite well that you are burnt out from your profession. We have tried 4 jobs in 3 years and none of them have brought fulfillment past a good income and flexible time off. We have gotten by, kicked the can down the road, by comforting ourselves with the fact that honestly you could do a lot worse in a career. Aren’t people always choosing two our of the three things they want? Mine is you can have any two of the following three but probably not all of them: money, work life balance, and fulfillment. While plenty of people don’t even get the luxury of choosing two of of those, that doesn’t mean it’s a healthy mindset to just accept burn out as a by product of your career choice. Yes we did go out and get a doctorate and still have $40k of loans left to pay. That’s not inescapable if truly in the end, PT is not the career for you. However, let’s think about how we can deal with this in the immediate future considering we are stuck with this career for at least a few years. It would be a good idea to make this whole thing more pleasant while we plan a pivot, than to just use the pivot as a light at the end of the tunnel to hold on hope for. That’s not a terrible strategy unless used in isolation as we’ve tried with spectacular backfire before. It used to be that we would feel trapped by a career path and come up with a start up idea to hail Mary escape it. You can be proud that you were able to secure some small amount of funding for a pipe dream in which you had no experience, but we always knew they were pipe dreams. And it wasn’t a healthy mentality to pin all our hopes on it because then it made what we’re currently doing seem like a failure. How exactly is getting a doctorate from a top 20 school a failure? It’s not. Even if we did have to adjust to being surrounded by people who were smart and hard working enough to make you feel below average by comparison because of course that would happen you got in because you were top of the class. So did they. If you’re the smartest person in the room you’re in the wrong room. Treat it as such rather than ruminating on perceived imposter syndrome. It is very likely, that if we hail Mary writing novels as a pivot that we will face the same challenges. Which is fine, but important to keep in mind and prepare for. If you were giving advice to a new grad from that stupidly expensive private PT school, you would tell them to be careful about the job they take above all, to talk to a therapist if they already feel so burnt out, to take note of the things in their career that they want to experience more of and things to avoid so that you can maximize contentment. For example, we love teaching stroke patients to walk again, we do not like the exhaustion of 12-13 hour days. Recognizing and leaning into these things rather than ruminating and giving into apathy has not been working out well and it’s time to make a change. And no more being hard on ourselves ruminating about how a depressed therapist provides crap therapy. The patients would literally not be seen if you weren’t there, so whatever you do is better than that. If everyone is grateful for it, don’t be the one person who feels bad. Find out of to feel proud of it. As always, let’s also not come up with all these strategies only to fail on follow through because we know how that will go. Our task today, is to sign up for a therapist. We’ll tell them about this post and it will bring up other things to talk about. You’ll get to feel accomplished about that.

    Lovingly yours,

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