Writing is wonderful when inspiration pours in and the words flow. But it isn’t always easy. Some days, it can feel overwhelming. Maybe you want to write but can’t find a minute in your hectic schedule. Maybe your writing isn’t going as you’d like and you can’t see a way through the challenges ahead. Maybe feelings of doubt are bearing down on you.
Overwhelm can creep up on writers, leading to block or creative burn out.
If you feel overwhelmed right now, or are worried you might in the future, there are several tools you can use to deal with the strong emotional feelings that can take over.
- Positive thinking: When we dwell on the negatives, we can attract more of the same. By switching our mindset, we can begin to feel more positive about our work and ourselves. Stop saying, ‘I’m an aspiring author.’ Start saying, ‘I am a writer.’
- Be present: There is nothing to be gained by worrying about ‘what ifs’. If you submit a short story for a competition, start work on another project. Don’t focus on what’s out of your control. Focus on what you can handle right now, in this moment.
- No comparison: The worst thing any writer can do for their craft, and sanity, is compare themselves to other authors. We all have a unique writer’s voice and that’s what makes our stories special. We can learn from our favourite authors but we can’t write like them because we are not them. Instead, find your unique way. Craft characters you love, create settings that matter to you, enjoy building new worlds.
- Start today: I love this quote from Jodi Picoult: ‘You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.’ To become a writer, you must write. Break the process into small steps and approach them one at a time.
- Stop being a perfectionist: Stopping mid-flow to correct your work will slow you down and could thwart your creativity. Perfection is an unattainable goal. Striving for it could prevent you from ever finishing a piece of work, submitting it into a competition or allowing it to be published so readers can enjoy your words.
Experiment with these tools and find out what works for you. It can take time but, with a little dedication and small actions, you’ll see positive changes.
Enhancing your writing life
Once you’ve dealt with overwhelm, you should be able to see more clearly. You can then enhance your writing life as a whole, improving the way you write and how you feel about it.
- Invest in yourself: Whether it’s buying a new book on the craft, joining a creative writing class or launching a website to showcase your writing, investing in yourself will help develop your skills and improve your confidence.
- Set your hours. Some writers are up at dawn crafting scenes while others write long after everyone has gone to sleep. Work out a writing routine that suits you, your family, your circumstances and your body. Do what feels right for you.
- Discover your strengths. Spend time experimenting with different forms, genres and styles. Work out what you’re good at and what you most enjoy.
- Hydrate and exercise. Keep fatigue and forgetfulness at bay by drinking plenty of water as you write. Take regular breaks away from your desk and move more.
Try incorporating these tips into your writing life and see what a difference they make. Looking after yourself both mentally and physically will help improve your concentration, creativity and output.
Nurture yourself and the writing will flow.