How To Deal With Overwhelm as a Freelance Writer

Do we have ADD or are we just focusing on the wrong things?

Photo by Candice Picard on Unsplash

My mind has had one million tabs open lately, and it’s making me manic. I should have seen this coming, as my horoscope told me I would be “inundated with many projects and would need to say no to some of them.”

I did not say no to some of them. The result? I fell back into my old habit of procrastinating — aka being paralyzed by fear — fear of not doing it right, fear of not getting it done on time (the irony!), fear of feeling stupid for not knowing the answers, and fear of being rejected.

I really need to make time to read your book, Judi.

And it got me thinking…

Our obsessive need to get everything done on time, usually in order to serve others, doesn’t end up serving anyone. And who gets the short end of the stick? We do.

Like personal branding queen Jessica Zweig reminds us: “If you try to be everything to everyone, you’ll be nothing to no one.”

I know this, yet I keep spreading myself far too thin — probably because I still have an insecurity of being a stay-at-home mom (above my freelance writer title), which causes me to take on more than I can realistically handle, which then makes me feel inadequate as a writer and a mother, and every other title I put pressure on myself to be *fabulous* at.

Photo by Mikelya Fournier on Unsplash

Why do we do this to ourselves?

After I stopped berating myself for accepting too many projects (and therefore feeling like I couldn’t complete all of them to both my and my editors’ satisfaction), I figured out a solution to dealing with writerly overwhelm:

Only take on projects that I’m EXCITED to take on…

not things that will grant me the highest status.

I am a too-a-tee Virgo, meaning, if I don’t want to do something, I won’t do it. No matter how much money is offered, no matter how small of a task it may be, I simply won’t do it if it feels like a drag.

Obviously we have to make money as writers, but I am a firm believer of the “If you believe in yourself and in your business, you will be successful” mantra. Translation: Do what you love and the money will come.

Another way of looking at it is only saying YES to things that make you feel fulfilled, or like you are solving a greater issue in the world, or things that make you laugh, or whatever makes you a great deal of money — whatever tickles your writer life fancy.

The moral of the story is…

Know how your personality type fits into your writerly life, and use it to your advantage (instead of viewing it as a drawback).

Keep being the Writerly You you know you can be.

Ashley is a writer based in Connecticut specializing in mental health & wellness.

Keep up with her on Instagram here, and sign up for her newsletter here.



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Ashley Alt

Ashley Alt

Life is better when we laugh. I write about the importance of mental health & believe our weirdness is what makes us great.