Thursday, March 31, 2011

Feeling Overwhelmed?

First drafts, research, edits – it’s easy to get overwhelmed. There are steps you can take to get through it.

• Write it down – I often make lists of everything that’s causing me stress. There is something about getting it from your mind to paper that helps keep it in perspective.

• Start with something small – I love Dave Ramsey’s snowball method for paying off debt. He recommends you start with the smallest debt. Once you pay that off, you work on the next smallest debt. Why? It builds momentum. If you’re working on a large project, start with something easy to get your momentum going.

• Don’t get caught up in the details – Have you read every craft book on Amazon? Have you done so much research on your topic you could fill a library with the information? You don’t have to know everything you think you could possibly need to know before you begin a project. Sit down, and do it.

• Make it fun – Is there a scene you’re really excited to write? Write it or use it to push you through the tough scenes. Introduce a new character. Add something silly. Do something to kick start your creativity. If it doesn’t work, you can always cut it out later.

What helps you complete overwhelming projects?


  1. Julie, you make some great points here. I like the snowball idea. Small successes motivate us, thus leading to more (and bigger) successes.

    I'm a detail person, and that's an understatement. Call me OC, or as my daughter would say CO--because I'd like it better if the letters were alphabetized. =) I have oodles of craft books I plan to read, but somehow I managed to sell a book without devouring all of them first. Amazing! Learning is important, but doing is what makes things happen.

  2. I like posting realistic goals, parceling out a big task over the time I have to accomplish it and then striving to exceed those goals.

    I also prioritize. Edits on a book in the pipeline take precedence over research or working on a first draft, and the current WIP takes first place ahead of plotting the one to come.

    Great tips.

    Oh, and I also like accountability. I post monthly goals on my blog, and those help keep me on track and accountable. I post daily goals on twitter or FB or both. :)

  3. Julie,

    I like the idea of writing a scene that excites you when you're stuck. Nothing like it to get the creative juices flowing!


  4. I think I might try your idea of just writing a fun scene and seeing how it might improve my story. I need about 3000 more words and am really struggling!

  5. I like starting with small stuff and working up! The whole eat a bear thingy. :-) Good tips here. Thanks.

  6. Julie, this was a really good post for me today as I am feeling the stress of an upcoming book launch, even as I also feel the excitement. One step at a time...

  7. This is my first time here. And I am SO glad I found you!

    What helps me get through overwhelming projects?

    One, I need to break it down into smaller bites and stay focused on one chew at a time.

    Two, I have to find the element in it all that makes it fun.

    Three, I have to see the beauty in it.

  8. Great tips, Julie. I agree that putting it on paper makes it easier. When I'm done with one thing, I scratch it out. Something about actually seeing marked off items on paper makes me feel like I've accomplished something and eases my overwhelming feelings.

  9. Those tips are great! I'm a big fan of making lists. :-)

  10. Julie, for me I feel most overwhelmed when I stare at the blank screen of a brand new WIP. It's so hard to imagine myself in the thick of it and the fear of all the 'what if's' in the world cloud my vision. It's something I force myself to push through.

  11. Chopping it down to daily or weekly tasks is helpful for me. And it's motivating, especially when I accomplish it ahead of time!

  12. great post - little by little - by attitude is do something... anything!