THE OPPRESSIVE CLOUD OF OVERWHELM
How to arm yourself against the living, breathing monster of Overwhelm as a modern-day author.
Being an author in this day and age, when tech makes anything and everything possible, is a constant struggle just to keep up. Things that “should” be done pile up, the pressure sets in, and overwhelm feels like a living, breathing monster, sucking the life out of you or freezing you in place.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Most of us battle monstrous overwhelm in all aspects of our lives: work, family, finances – especially when they combine, it feels like a nuke-drop on our peace of mind, positivity, and energy level. And if you are an author, whether you are new to the publishing world or a veteran, overwhelm doesn’t go away. You don’t only have “normal life” to worry about – you have a book that people are going to read, a brand to represent, and the public’s expectations to manage. It’s not only new territory for many people, it’s downright terrifying.
And here’s the thing. We’re in an industry that does us no favors, when it comes to inundating us with choices and manifesting urgency. You thought you had decision making fatigue before? Well, saddle up, buttercup. Once you publish a book, you’re a business owner and there will be plenty more decisions to be made.
I am NOT trying to scare you, I’m only being real. BUT THERE IS AMAZING NEWS TOO!
You’re embracing your dream of being an author in an age where there are so many tools to help you succeed. Your biggest battle won’t be figuring out how to do things, it will be creating boundaries to do things in stride. It will be training yourself to listen to your body – to your gut – in order to keep overwhelm from setting you back and making your journey more stressful that is has to be.
There are still as many hours in the day as there were before you decided to write a book. There are still adult responsibilities that didn’t go away the day you decided you wanted to be a writer or published author. I know I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know, but what you might not have considered is that we all feel this way. I promise you. I struggle with overwhelming myself with “all the things” constantly, and I’ll write a whole post about that later this month.
As we approach 2024, I want to revisit the idea of self-sabotage, which I introduced last month. My five big contributors are comparisonitis, shiny object syndrome, lack of goal setting, overcommitment, and impatience – all of which comprise the mother ship of self-sabotage: overwhelm.
Overwhelm is natural, and it takes practice to actively combat it most days. BUT YOU CAN DO IT. Arm yourself now so that you train your mind to protect you and your process moving forward. Am I making it sound like you’re arming for war? Perhaps. But am I overexaggerating – not at all. The more you’re aware of your self-sabotaging pitfalls, the easier it will be to catch yourself while in the midst of it, and re-center yourself.
The goal is to notice the cues and pivot before you get burnout.
You might start to feel overwhelmed listening to book marketing “experts”, reading their books, and following the advice you hear on all of the podcasts. You might feel overwhelmed when you’re approaching a deadline, or when you see what people are doing on their social media that pressures you to think you should be doing the same. Or managing all the different platforms like some people, instead of simply picking one.
I’ve been there, overwhelmed by it all; that’s how I know it’s real. That’s how I know overwhelm is one of your greatest adversaries on this author journey. It will make you second-guess yourself, feel like you don’t belong, and make it harder to accomplish your goals and dreams.
But you don’t have to take my word for it.
There’s a reason I’m tackling this pitfall now, before flushing out other self-sabotaging behaviors.
I was perusing my list of submitted questions posed by aspiring authors, and at the core of most of them is the uncomfortable, urgent feeling of overwhelm.
Overwhelm to learn “all the things”
Overwhelm to get all the software needed for everything in publishing and spend money you don’t feel comfortable spending
Overwhelm to learn more about the writing craft and to know every nuance of well written prose, word use, etc.
The overwhelming need to make the first book you publish the most epic thing you can possibly write
I’m exhausted for you, reading all of these concerns, and I imagine you might be too. But keep in mind, it's all about what we can manage and how we break things down into bite-size pieces.
You don't have to know all of things at once – how to build your own website or bookshop to sell direct, how to perfect your writing craft, or know the entirety of your marketing plan for next year.
If it's difficult for you to tackle this week and still think about the future, give yourself permission to focus on this week's concerns, and schedule a time when you can actively and whole-heartedly focus on a plan for the future.
For now, something is better than nothing, perfection is unattainable and will only slow you down, and rushing things has always bitten me in the ass.
Prioritize and from there, break your priorities down into manageable pieces. I can’t stress that enough. BREAK IT DOWN INTO MANAGEABLE PIECES.
A few tips that might help you avoid overwhelm…
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