Feeling Overwhelmed? Advice for Writers

writerAt times the life of a writer can be overwhelming.

You have one head and many hats, both professional and personal.

You have to get your work done, juggling schedules across different clients, all of whom somehow conspire to set deadlines on the same day.

You have to deal with the administration of your business, submitting invoices, paying bills and keeping up with your tax obligations.

You have no supporting infrastructure to help you with the simple things like making sure you don’t run out of paper, toner, ink cartridges, letterhead and all the other little things that need to be taken care of.

If you work from home, which most freelancers do, you also have to deal with the sometimes difficult challenge of balancing professional and personal needs and priorities.

Like I say, sometimes it can be overwhelming.

Step one. Use a listing or scheduling system

If you want to keep control, be sure that you maintain a list of “things to do”.

You can use a pad of paper, the scheduling functions of Outlook or Yahoo, or a dedicated scheduling, planning and goal-setting software program.

Just be sure to work from a list each day, and find a way to see ahead a little, so you can prioritize what needs to be done today, this week and this month.

Step two. When you feel overwhelmed, take one step at a time

There may be times when you look at your list of things to do and just freeze inside. It’s just too daunting.

“Freezing” like this is not uncommon, but simply makes things worse.

Here’s my tip. Look at what you have to do that day, and tackle one or two small tasks first. Maybe it’s setting an appointment with your accountant, invoicing a client or writing the first five lines of a new assignment.

Each task may take only a few minutes. But once completed, cross it off the list…on paper or on your monitor.

If there is a particular task on the list you have been putting off, time and again, try to get it done first.

Each time you mark even a small task as completed, the list becomes shorter and a little less intimidating. Every check mark or strike-through will lift your spirits a little, and put you in a better frame of mind to tackle the next thing on your list.


First, make lists…for today, tomorrow, this week and this month. Know what you have to do and break it all down into single steps.

Second, cross out, strike through or use check marks to give yourself a visual confirmation as each task is completed.

These two tips may not always help when you feel overwhelmed, but they’ll certainly help a lot of the time.

For more help in managing your writing work, learn about the Writing Rituals method…