Sandra Gerth - author of the Writers' Guide Series

Top 10 tips to beat writer overwhelm

writer overwhelm

When I was growing up, I always dreamed of being a writer. Back then, I thought a writer would get to write all day. But that’s not the reality of a writer’s life.


Writer overwhelm is real!

Nowadays, writers wear many different hats, and our to-do lists seem endless. We’re not just researching, plotting, writing, and revising our books; we are also supposed to grow our mailing list, design and update a website, create social media platforms, get reviews, run ads, attend events, and complete a myriad of other tasks.

If you’re an indie author, you’re also taking over all the jobs traditionally covered by a publishing house, such as having a cover created, hiring an editor, and uploading your book to different retailers.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by our daunting to-do lists. Especially for writers who are just starting out, it feels like being buried under an avalanche of tasks.

overwhelmed writer


Tips to beat writer overwhelm

  1. Feeling overwhelmed as a writer is normal. It’s not just you! Every writer I know goes through that feeling. Being a writer comes with a steep learning curve. But take heart: It does get better, and many of those tasks are things you have to set up only once.
  2. You can’t do it all. If you try, you’ll only end up burned out. Instead, prioritize, and leave the less important things for later. If you only have time to focus on three things, I would suggest: Writing a great book (with the help of editors, beta readers, and craft books); giving it a professional look (including a good cover and a captivating blurb); and starting a newsletter. I’ve also blogged about the top 5 most important steps for new authors over on my blog for sapphic fiction authors.
  3. Remember that perfect is the enemy of done. For example, most marketing experts recommend having an automated welcome series for new newsletter subscribers that consists of several emails. But if you don’t have time for that, a single welcome email will do for now. You can always build on what you have later.
  4. Writing a book is a marathon, not a sprint, and it’s not a competition either. Don’t compare yourself to other authors who can write more words per day or who sell more books or win more awards. Your writing is unique. No one else can write your book.
  5. Choose one goal to focus on every month (or every quarter, if monthly goals seem too overwhelming).
  6. Break down daunting projects into little tasks that seem manageable. Every step counts, no matter how tiny it might be.
  7. Reach out to your fellow authors for support. Many of them are willing to help. Maybe you can trade tasks, e.g., if you struggle with writing blurbs, a fellow author who’s great at it might be willing to help you, and in return, you help with something you’re good at. Cross-promotions are another great way to work together.
  8. You don’t have to do everything and be everywhere. If you hate TikTok or any other social media, feel free not to be on that platform. There are plenty of other things you can do.
  9. Play to your strengths. For example, I’m not great on video and author readings scare me, but I’m very organized and good at using my creativity to come up with fun events for readers, so many of my promotional efforts revolve around organizing big cross-promotions within my genre.
  10. If you can afford it, hire someone to take over some tasks. Paying a professional cover designer and an editor is a must. If you are too overwhelmed to learn how to format your ebooks or paperbacks, you could also hire a formatter. However, I wouldn’t recommend hiring someone to promote your books for you. They usually don’t know how to reach your target audience, plus your readers want to connect with you, not some marketing firm.


How are you battling writer overwhelm?

What are your tips and tricks to beat writer overwhelm? Let us know in the comments!

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4 thoughts on “Top 10 tips to beat writer overwhelm”

  1. I try to just write.

    Good advice, right? Often times I don’t have writers block, I can see in my head what I want to happen, but I’m hesitant because I want it to be perfect. I want my head to just throw it up on paper and be done, for people to really visualize what i saw, but that’s not how it works.
    Save the editing and fine tuning for when your done. For now just run through it, be excited, get it on paper, misspell words etc.

    Just write!

    • For most authors, trying not to edit and not striving for perfection while you write is good advice. And keep in mind that not all of your readers can visualize. People like me who have aphantasia can’t, and they will still enjoy your stories.


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