Writer seeking help: overwhelmed and under the covers

My puppy Bronte (named after Charlotte, not Emily) seeking refuge in her blanket.

Help!

Sorry. Firstly, Happy New Year to one and all. I really do have ONE major resolution and that’s to devote more time to my fiction.  Would love it if you would read this post and offer suggestions, tips etc.  I’m knee-deep in edits on my book right now but I’m getting overwhelmed by the following:

It seems there’s SO many edits required on my novel. The more I delve in the more I realise I need to flesh things out. If I think about them all I get overwhelmed. I know the answer is to go through each chapter little by little and not get caught up in the big picture but sometimes my brain forgets that and I become frozen, paralyzed and/or otherwise inert.

I’m SO thrilled to now be a member of RWA. I no longer feel alone. I LOVE this org.  BUT, there’s so many emails from the group, not to mention the chapter events (many of which I want to sign up for), the SPEW crew (who help you set goals on your writing each week), that that also overwhelms me, as does the RWA website, newsletter etc. I WANT to respond to these great emails and read all the wonderful blog posts and websites my great chapter writers send us to in these emails, but again, I get overwhelmed. Where do I find the time? This in turn leads to…

My subscription to writing mags (okay only one), which I LOVE and is like a guilty pleasure when I find time to peruse it. Then I want to take notes and put little pink stickies on things and create folders – which again distracts from the actual editing work of my novel… Not to mention all the great novels I want to read on my Kindle. AAARGGH!!

Keep in mind I have FULL TIME job. I’m delighted I do. I LOVE my job as an editor and journalist, and I’m lucky I get to work from home – but I don’t work 9-5. I work CRAZY hours – sometimes late into the night or early in the morning. Just this morning (yes, it’s Sunday) I had to write about a big car chase from last night. So while I do have flexibility – I CAN and do take my dog to the park every day – I also have to find time to balance everything.

So here’s my BIG QUESTION:

If you are a fiction writer who ALSO happens to have a full time job (whether that’s as a nuclear physicist or as a full time parent), I’d love to hear your suggestions/thoughts/plans/ideas. How do you juggle your life? How do you find time to work on your novels, do your jobs, split the atom, organise the carpool, keep your sanity, read all the important supportive stuff you need/want to read, be supportive to other writers in your groups or blogs and still eat decent meals, take important exercise AND have a life?

How do you NOT just throw up your hands and crawl under the covers?

Thank you in advance (from under the covers).

8 comments

  1. Kelly – I no longer have a full time job, but I did when i began my writer’s journey, and I published three to four books before I decided to go full time into writing, so I feel I can offer some thoughts on this overwhelmed feeling. Somehow I managed. I got earlier, stayed up later, spent breaktime at work reading writing magazines etc. I liken it to my going to Nursing School a gazillion years ago – I didn’t let myself look at the big picture because it felt too overwhelming. I only looked at what was right before me. Study for this test, learn this procedure, do this module. In your case, kelly, you may have to assing yourself small steps on your writing path and only look at your progress from week to week. Weeks add up and before you know it, you’ve got a year’s worth of fictionwriting and learning accomplished. Does this make sense?
    Good luck to you. Love the phot of puppy in bed. 🙂

    • bronte13 says:

      Thanks Lynne. You’re right (write???). Week to week is a good idea. I’m amazed I actually wrote the novel but it’s the editing that’s doing my head in! I think I need to carve out specific space/time to write and read fiction – and NOT feel guilty about it!

  2. Hi Kelly;

    I feel your pain! I actually retired in February of last year, but I sure don’t feel like I’m retired. In fact, I’m busier than when I was working full time.

    I’m STILL trying to figure out a schedule that allows me to get the most important things done on a daily basis.

    I’m currently picking my four top priorities and committing to get those accomplished during the day. Anything else I get done is gravy.

    Just do the best that you can and try to have a real life as well.

  3. Roz Lee says:

    Congrats on finishing the novel! You are so right about all the time sucking activities. I honestly don’t know how anyone writes and holds down a full-time job, especially one with crazy hours. My only suggestion is to prioritize. The magazines will keep, so I’d put those last. You can always keep one in the car, the desk, where ever so you can pull it out when you have one of those unexpected free moments.

    As for the editing. Have you tried copying and pasting a small section you want to focus on into a new doc. That way you aren’t as tempted to wander, or keep looking at the page count and panic. You can always paste it back in when you’ve got it right. You can also print these out and carry them around – like the magazine suggestion.

    I’d put walking the dog at the top of the priority list! That’s a cutie in the picture!

    Best of luck with the juggling act!

    • bronte13 says:

      I like the copy and paste idea. Good thinking. My novel is currently in Scrivener – which I adore but it does make me wander and look at other chapters. Love this idea! PS. Changed the photo – it was a generic dog – not mine -the one above is now indeed mine!

  4. Hi, Kelly! I am so with you! I work part-time, have a family, and am writing and editing. There are days I think my hubby and kids forget what I look like because if I’m not at work, I’m in my writing cave. I wish I had a good answer for you on how to juggle it all, but I’m still figuring it out and getting less sleep than I should! I just try and remind myself to enjoy the journey and not stress if everything doesn’t get done. Eventually it will. Oh, and I focus on what I did accomplish, rather than what I didn’t.

    Congratulations on finishing your novel and happy revising! I’m going to go follow you on Twitter now…

  5. beverlydiehl says:

    Greeting, Kelly! I also work full time – in an accounting office, so there are many nights I come home and don’t have two brain cells left to rub together. (That’s when I do my novel reading, unless I actually do have enough energy and creativity to write.)

    I’ve been in RWA & LARA since May, and love the incredible support, but also realize I could spend every free minute reading all the e-mails and visiting all the blogs and supporting all my LARA bros & sisters instead of working on my own stuff, so I don’t. I do get the LARAlink, but only as a digest. I do visit blog posts listed there occasionally, but am now more inclined not to, unless it is someone like you, who rarely posts. 🙂 After much consideration, I decided not to join SPEW – my problem isn’t needing motivation or encouragement to write, it’s time, which being a part of SPEW wouldn’t give me. Though I am sure it’s an excellent tool for many people.

    I have fallen off a bit with my exercising, which I plan to get back into soon. I think the key is to realize that we *can’t* do it all. Sometimes we just have to let that amazing-sounding book, that terrific titled article, or all the “come leave some love for me here” posts go by, so we keep our eyes on the main prize, our own work. The other stuff has to fit in around the edges if/when there is room or time.

  6. Greetings KELL …

    Well, that’s why, exactly I created WriterinAction 😉 to support writers who are having a challenge GETTING to writing, or submitting after they’ve written, or moving fwd.

    WriterinAction is the only on-line series supporting writer success through video inspirational modules, and audio to help transform their lives. Love for you to come check it out — we address exactly what you are talking about with the overwhelm!

    In short, tho – for now – Overwhelm is a Fear trigger mechanism, that a Part of us uses to keep us ‘safe’. After all, if we don’t write, then we don’t have to finish. If we don’t finish, then we don’t have to start going through the process of putting it out into the world, if we don’t start putting it out into the world, we don’t have to face rejection … and on and on in the Monkey Mind… 😉

    My best recommendation with clients (I am a Master Results Coach with NLP and Hypnotherapy as well as being a writer…) is Baby Steps.

    Feel free to come check out WriterinAction – happy to give any of your writers here a discount, too if they mention you. Sign in, and get the Gift 5 Essential Answers for Writer Success E-Book containing a $225 process I do that breaks writers through called “What Would Happen, If…”

    And, of course, feel free to ask any questions of me here, or via email.

    Best regards and here’s to your Inspiring Words.
    Julie Michaels
    Founder, WriterinAction
    CEO, DreamwithJulie & Catching Dreams

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *