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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/newsletters/action/archives/id/10980-Volunteer-Burnout.html
Contests & Activities: September 15, 2021 Issue [#10980]

 This week: Volunteer Burnout
  Edited by: Jayne
                             More Newsletters By This Editor  

Table of Contents

1. About this Newsletter
2. A Word from our Sponsor
3. Letter from the Editor
4. Editor's Picks
5. A Word from Writing.Com
6. Ask & Answer
7. Removal instructions

About This Newsletter

Over the last while, a not-insignificant number of members have needed a break. Everyone here at WdC volunteers their time and work. Whether you are writing, reviewing, or running contests, volunteer burnout is a real thing. Here are some ways to recognize the signs of burnout, how to mitigate it, and when to step back (and respectfully let other people take a break).

Word from our sponsor

Letter from the editor

Volunteerism is often something we associate with charitable events and community services. It sometimes becomes lost that volunteerism is any use of volunteer labour. In this context, it's important to recognize the magnitude of volunteers here at WdC.

Writers volunteer their time to create work for us to enjoy. Reviewers volunteer their time to provide us with feedback. The owners of contests and activities volunteer their time to develop, organize, and run their offerings. They often do this at the expense of their own writing or other creative endeavors. Many work to do these things while juggling families, careers and all the other junk life throws at them.

As a microcosm of larger society, busy people tend to stay busy. It's why you'll often find multiple contests or activities associated with one member. Sometimes they see a niche of writers they think will benefit from a place dedicated to honing their skills. Others create items they'd love to participate in but aren't offered.

They begin these things out of a love for the craft and the WdC community. However, trying to keep up with the demands of life, their own writing, and other member's expectations can create a cascade effect of 'too many things, not enough time' and cause imbalances across the entire spectrum of responsibilities. When life needs to be brought back into balance, volunteering is very often the first thing on the chopping block. Don't kid yourselves; it is an agonizing decision for most members to step back from their activities. It's no different than volunteering anywhere else. At some point, your activities become part of what you do and who you are. Stepping back can feel like letting the community down.

Too often we don't recognize burnout in ourselves or others until it's too late. We wake up one morning and we just can't do it anymore. The guilt associated with the feeling of 'giving up' causes some people to stop showing up, others have spotty attendance, and a few announce they're done for now. If you're curious, this is the same thing that happens in real-world volunteerism when members are burning out.

Volunteer burnout is very common, and it has very real consequences. The community the volunteer leaves loses a great deal of knowledge, participation, and often, morale. The volunteer may experience guilt or sadness, even though the break may be in their best interests.

Here are some ways to help yourself or others:

1. Set achievable goals.

How to help yourself: You are the best person to judge how much you can realistically take on. If you make a mistake and find the project is bigger than you thought, ask for help. If it's a short-term activity, ride it out until the end and then suspend it. You don't have to do anything that negatively impacts your wellness.

How to help others: Answer the call for help. Assist with temporarily judging a contest, answering inquiries, or responding to posts. If someone can no longer run their item, don't pass judgement. Ask if you can work with them to keep it going. Don't expect a member to hand over the item they've worked hard to build (although some happily do so!).

2. Recognize the signs.

How to help yourself: If you find you're dreading logging in because you have so much to do, you're chronically late with judging, you can't keep up with your forums, and especially if your real-life responsibilities are suffering while you try to manage with your online life, you likely have too much going on and it's time to regroup.

How to help others: If you see the above signs, instead of complaining, try asking, without judgement, if there's anywhere you can help.

3. Take a break.

How to help yourself: You do not owe it to anyone to run your contest/activity every single month/week/day/whatever. Pick what works for you, or if it is no longer working for you, change it. If it doesn't feel like it's that simple, read the point below.

How to help others: Respect their timelines. They have their own goings-on in their lives. Enjoy the contest/activity when it's available and don't be judgmental. Which would you rather have, fewer contest rounds or none at all? Because that's where things are headed if a balance can't be found.

4. Be Patient

How to help yourself: Recognizing there's too much on your plate is a healthy and insightful observation. Reducing your workload is a reasonable response to protecting your health! If you're feeling overwhelmed, ask yourself if scaling back is the best strategy, and if you think it is, try it. If it still isn't working for you, step back. When you're able to restart, go slow.

How to help others: You can offer to help, and above all, seriously, be patient. You don't know what's going on in the other person's life. If you're lacking something on WdC, create something new to do, but only if you're able. Two burnt out members solves nothing.

5. It's nobody's business but your own

How to help yourself: If you need to cut back or walk away for a while, you don't need to disclose a reason, or any more than you're comfortable with. You don't owe anyone an explanation.

How to help others: It's none of your business. Don't pry. It's perfectly fine to offer encouraging words, but at the end of the day, everyone has to take care of their health.

6. Say thank you

Writers: Thank your contest, activity, and forum creators for their hard work. Thank them while it's running and thank them if it ends. It takes a lot of work and a lot of time to keep the wheels turning.

Contest/activity creators: Thank your writers. It doesn't have to be extravagant. Just thanking folks for their participation goes a long way and creates a relationship where people may be comfortable stepping forward to help.

I'd like to thank all the writers, reviewers, and contest/activity producers. Your work sparks the creativity of others in a wonderful feedback loop. Please take the time to take care of your health, and please respect those who need to slow down, step back, and recharge. We will all be better for it.

Editor's Picks

Want to find some contests?

Contest Clues  (E)
List of WdC Contests, Challenges, and Fundraisers. Clues To What's Open, What's Not!
#2221492 by GeminiGemđź’Ž

Writing Contests @ Writing.Com  (E)
Writing Contests on Writing.Com are posted here.
#171898 by Writing.Com Support

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