How to Avoid Being Overwhelmed in Your Writing Life

A man with a hand on his face overwhelmed by life.

Sometimes life can get overwhelming.

We get to the point where we have too much to deal with, and something has to give.

And often, it’s our writing that takes the hit.

Leaving us guilty for setting our work aside.

But if we push ourselves to the point of overwhelm just to maintain our schedule, life can start falling apart at the seams.

We lose sleep, miss appointments, forget things…

Of course, not everyone can put their writing on hold if they have contracts to fulfill or a preorder set to go.

But for those of us with the freedom to take a break whenever we need it, it might be necessary to take some time off when things get too stressful.

Here are some things you can do to take back control when life gets crazy:


Prioritize Your Schedule

Life can get overwhelming, and sometimes you just have to pick and choose your battles.

Our to-do lists can get so long, it seems like we’ll never get it all done.

When that happens, we just have to accept it and decide what must be done and do that.

And if we find the time to do more, choose what will make the most impact on the future.

I try to compartmentalize my life as much as possible.

I work while my son is at school, and when he comes home, I switch to personal and family goals.

That isn’t to say my work doesn’t get interrupted.

I can’t shut off the phone because my kid is always in trouble, and I could be called to pick him up at a moment’s notice.

(Although he seems to be doing better this year. *fingers crossed*)

And there’s always appointments I can’t avoid.

But I can determine my work order.

So I always list my goals in order of what will have the most impact on my career.

This way, the most important stuff always gets done first, and I don’t feel so guilty if I don’t find the time to hit everything.

(Here’s more on finding time to write when life gets crazy)


Set Smaller Goals

Another thing you can take into consideration is reducing the amount of work you put towards each task.

Progress is progress.

All that matters is that you’re moving forward.

If that means reducing your writing down to fifty words a day, then do it.

Every little bit counts. No matter how small.

It may seem insignificant, but it’s better than nothing, right?

(Here’s more on setting goals that work)


Learn to Say No When You Need To

You can’t do everything. So don’t worry about it. People will understand.

We all have busy lives.

If you have to take something off your list, do it.

Even if that sometimes means setting aside your writing.

I’ve been sick with a nasty cold for the last month and didn’t get this post ready last week like I should have.

I couldn’t get the energy to even look at my writing, not even my fantasy.

We can’t always control how life’s going to go.

When life hits you upside the head, sometimes it’s a struggle just to get out of bed.

Just remember: there’s always tomorrow. Your writing’s not going anywhere.

Don’t be afraid to set it aside when you need to.

If you’re overwhelmed, take a break.

Your health and sanity are more important.

Sometimes surviving the day is more important than how much you accomplish!



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Professional Picture (2)

Renea strives to help writers develop the focus and skills they need to finish their first novel, offering writers practical writing advice they can apply one step at a time.

She is the author of Conquering Writing Pressures: Living a Balanced Writing Life in a Busy World where she helps writers find the courage to accept life will never be perfect. And if we want our dreams to succeed, we must fight to make them a reality.

She currently lives in St. Joseph, Missouri, with her husband Joe, her three children, and her five lovable furballs.

From a young age, Renea was mad for books and reading, and especially loved Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series, which she read in the ninth grade.

She is an avid reader, with her main interests residing in history, mythology, and fantasy, along with some romance and science fiction in her earlier years.

When Renea’s not writing, she enjoys genealogy, role-playing games, and dreams of traveling the world. In a past life, she plucked chickens and milked cows.

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