To Overcome the Overwhelmed

Every writer gets overwhelmed sometimes. It’s a part of the craft—especially for those writing novels. I’ve often become the victim of the overwhelm and lost much time to it.

You are both the victim and the aggressor in this fight.

You must face yourself if you want to win. The first part of this fight is…

Know Thy Enemy

What is it that is overwhelming you? If you don’t know, you’re too close to the problem and you need to step back for a moment and really think. Some common problems I have are:

  • You don’t have enough time.
  • You don’t have enough skill.
  • You don’t know where to go from here.

Any of these ring a bell?

Not Enough Time

You have a busy day. A full-time job, kids, a significant other, a new season of your favorite show—when are you supposed to write?

I have been to the top of the mountain, and I have seen the answer. It is this:

You make time to write.

I don’t care who you are or how busy your life seems—there are 15 to 20 minutes somewhere in your day where you can dedicate yourself to your craft. Make time to write.

Not Enough Skill

The bad part about this one is it might be entirely true—you could be a bad writer and that is what is overwhelming you. The cure takes some time to take effect and the prescription is:

Practice improves skill.

Your parents were right, I’m afraid. If you’re bad at something—keep doing it until you’re better. Like a muscle, your writing may be weak. Work out every day and you will be stronger.

Where Do You Go From Here?

This is the most specific enemy and it comes in many forms. To answer it, you must ask another question; where am I and where am I trying to go?

Did you finish the first draft of your novel and don’t know how to go about editing it? Finish editing and need an agent? Need to decide whether to self-publish or attempt the traditional route?

Writers have been a traditionally solitary group until now. The internet has allowed us to talk to one another without leaving our desks and there are massive amounts of advice about your specific problem waiting for you to search.

If you want to be a professional in this field, become familiar with research and the writing and publishing process. If you’re a serious writer, you should be a serious reader. There is plenty to read about what is overwhelming you at any point in your process.

The best piece of advice to overcome the overwhelmed is:

Write. Whatever you do, never stop writing.

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2 thoughts on “To Overcome the Overwhelmed

  1. I was a victim of time. I have a full time job. Now I write on my 15min breaks and my lunch. That’s 1 1/2 hours a day, 7 1/2 hours a week and 30 hours a month. There is time to write.