Being an author isn't always a walk in the park. Yes, there are times when we radiate creative energy and excitement springs from our fingertips but... there are also times when our to-do list creeps up on us, when we come head to head with a plot hole, or our deadline approaches as we just aren't ready. And unfortunately, it's pretty easy to let the overwhelm of tackling those things turn us to procrastination rather than productivity.
Overwhelm is most commonly caused by either:
Overwhelm triggers can be either external or internal and once one of them becomes apparent, the others like to join the party and tag along as well.
Luckily, there are ways to minimize the chance of overwhelm (before the fact) OR help you find the confidence you need to move forward (after the fact):
1) Breathe, my friend.
Seriously. Right now. Take a long deep breath. You're doing fine and you've got this, okay? Alright...
2) The diagnosis
Are you struggling with your writing routine? Afraid of publishing? Feeling overwhelmed by the editing process?
What, exactly, is causing the problem? Is the trigger internal or external The sooner you know what you're dealing with, the sooner you can create a plan of action to overcome it.
3) The prescription
Now that you know what you are dealing with, you can create a plan of action to squash the trigger (or avoid it altogether).
For example, if you are overwhelmed because you aren't getting as much time to write a day as you'd like or originally thought you would, maybe you need to:
- Get to know what you writing processes truly looks like, not trying to mimic other writers but understanding what really works for you
- Take a clear look at how you are spending your time each day
- Take some time to rearrange your schedule for better results
- Cut out unnecessary time and energy drains
Or if your trigger is that you're feeling uninspired with your story and are doubting it, these may be just the thing to help:
- Head to Pinterest or Trello and create a vision board of your plot, characters, or world - it's both fun AND can reconnect you to your story
- Get some 1 on 1 time with your character - not sitting down to write the book but instead to get to know them, to fall back in love with this character. Fill out a questionnaire or put them in some fun situations to see how they react
- Create a playlist that captures the essence of your story in music.
These may seem unproductive at first, but they will immerse you back into your story and help reignite your spark. Plus, a temporary step back from the manuscript may even be what you need to conquer feeling uninspired.
4) Invest in your success
Now you know what is causing the overwhelm and how to fix it, all that's left is to spring into action. Start incorporating your "prescription" into your everyday life. The overwhelm may not completely disappear immediately but slow progress is better than no progress.