You've achieved what many writers dream about, what keeps you going when you feel burned out?
I particularly like questions which are difficult to answer. They are vastly stimulating--and excellent exercise for the brain. This is such a one (or two).
Perhaps the easiest way to answer your question will be to describe my own ambitions--and and mindset.
I never dreamt I would reach the lofty heights of the NYT Best Seller List. Instead, my ambition was to become a thoroughly entertaining writer who could earn enough to make a modest living. I was quite well aware that the odds were against me nonetheless. I had read enough about writers--and knew enough--to realize that most people never finish the book they start--let alone get it published. Nonetheless, despite the fact that I was giving up a rather successful business career, I just felt compelled to proceed. I was driven by a sense that writing was what I should be doing virtually regardless of risk and consequences. It was my calling.
I was more attracted by the writing itself--the actual process--than anything else. It was an imperative as far as I was concerned--and it still is. In fact, writing has become more and more important to me over the decades. It is a truly wondrous and joyous occupation--and immensely satisfying. It is also extremely difficult to do well--which is one of the main reasons it is so enjoyable. Overcoming a challenge always is--and the challenges of writing are endless. Converting one's thoughts into the written word doesn't seem that it should be that difficult--but the reality is otherwise. Then, of course, there is the not so minor matter of having interesting thoughts in the first place--and to convey them clearly and entertainingly. Technical clarity isn't enough in itself. The result has to be readable--and to keep the reader going.
We live in an instant satisfaction world--but I knew perfectly well from the start that it was going to take me a long time to learn to write adequately--let alone really well. Here, I am not talking months, but years (if not decades). Accordingly, I took the long view from the beginning. To that end, I was quite prepared to live simply--and I had to. Bear in mind, I wasn't after fame and fortune. My goal was to write (and, somehow, survive). Virtually everything else was secondary--and still is.
I was well served by being a voracious reader. I have read two or three books a week from the age of about seven--and I am 71 now. Do the math. You can learn an immense amount from other authors--and reading is the best way to do it. Talking to writers helps--but reading them is better. Writers, in my experience, can be fascinating people, but they are at their best when they write. Writing is a distillation of years of experience.
I had the advantage of being brought up in a creative environment. My mother was both a writer and a painter--and members of the family and many friends were closely involved with the theater. I also had a difficult and stressful upbringing which, strangely enough, has worked to my advantage. It motivated me to escape into books--and into an endless world of stories. I thought 'story'from an early age--and still evaluate just about everything as to whether I can use it in a book, or in some other writing.
I'm really not the right person to ask about becoming a Best Selling Author because my commitment has been to the writing rather than fame or fortune. I give thanks every day that I chose this route.
Writing, as such, never makes me feel burned out. On the contrary, it is what invigorates me. No matter what my mood when I start to write, I am virtually always cheered when I get going.
I do feel burned out, at times, for other reasons. Real life is full of minor frustrations, pitfalls, violence, betrayals, disasters, and stress. Just as well--or what would we writers have to write about! Fortunately, there is also much kindness in the world--and romance is not in short supply.
Either way, it is all material.
What keeps me going is my absolute faith--and joy--in the process of writing. Add in a wide variety of experiences, a fairly active sex life, and a fairly consistent supply of wine--and it adds up to an interesting and adventurous life.
I haven't given up adventuring--and have no plans to retire.