When the “Overwhelm” is Real
sometimes you just have to step away and refuel — and that’s ok!
We all get overwhelmed. It is human nature to push ourselves beyond our limits, to test our limits, and in turn, grow, achieve…expand. And we writers push ourselves hard.
Which brings my humbled spirit to this article.
Some days the words are just too much.
As a writer, I have to be honest, brutally honest sometimes, especially when my fiction hat is off and I am working to develop an article, I confess…some days the words are just. too. much.
That inner voice harasses me — If you want to be a writer, there’s a lot of work to do. You might want to make a list.
Just like many of you, I’ve had a few irons in the fire lately. Perhaps you can relate? Currently, I am working on: (It’s ok if you skim these…it’s the point here that matters.)
- Getting a new blog off the ground.
- Editing my first novel.
- Developing my author’s platform (whatever the hell that is).
- Writing two articles a week for my standing column in the Observer News Enterprise newspaper.
- Writing articles for Medium — also a new endeavor.
- Securing freelance writing jobs to start a career.
- Compiling a poetry portfolio for a future poetry collection book.
You get the point…all of these involve writing. Words. Reading words. Writing words. Dreaming and thinking and swimming in words.
Now about that blog…and that author’s profile, these involve a lot of socializing on various websites, supporting others, engaging, creating relationships that will further the “author’s platform,” create consistency and credibility and develop a community of people who support my work.
That voice, again — Get your links out there. Increase keywords. Learn SEO.
Perhaps you, too, are out there selling yourself as a writer — it’s exhausting, right?
Which brings me halfway to the point…are you still here? Did you flake out? I don’t blame you! I am exhausted too, overwhelmed by the literal tons of information out there, opportunities to mingle with other writers…right? But we do what we do, every chance we can get.
So, Medium… what seems like gazillions of articles every day, by gazillions of fantastic writers, all out there working as hard as I am to get somewhere, have their voice heard, change a life, get noticed, make a difference — and ALL of you worthy of time, reads, claps, thank yous, and highlights.
Nagging voice, pushing me forward — Read Medium articles, leave comments, leave highlights, validate others, support other poets, read posts in publications.
Today, it hit me. The words are just too much. Slamming into my eyes, worming through my brain, spilling out into my fingers, keyboard, and into the vast online community of others — living the same hustle.
The Information Age was brought on by the introduction of the World Wide Web — remember that? — and is characterized by the availability of overwhelming droves of information, data, knowledge at our fingertips, and digital innovation that levels-up daily.
Interesting article… Are we leaving the Information Age for what this writer calls the “Experience Age?”
It can be overwhelming. No, I mean, overwhelming.
You look at the computer screen, the phone screen, or a screen inside your glasses and suddenly the words run together, your eyes have had it. Your brain has had it.
You have had it. Not to mention your typing fingers, your back, your neck!
Perhaps it is time to step away from the words, and *gasp* take a walk. If you are a writer, like me, you require refueling. All of this pouring out can eventually lead to an empty feeling that is not easily fixed.
It is easier to avoid the pitfall than to climb out of it.
I read a lot of articles encouraging writers to stay committed. To set daily goals. I applied them. And wrote a 90,000 word book in 6 weeks.
Perhaps the articles I should be reading are the ones that encourage me to
- Get some fresh air today.
- Find something interesting today — offline.
- Find a nice quiet spot to sit and drink a cup of tea today.
- Talk to the dog — for five straight minutes.
- Lay on your back on the ground. Now, what do you see about the world?
- Do something silly.
In a Forbes Magazine Article, Erika Anderesen had some great advice on “taking a moment:”
Find time to think. This may seem entirely counter-intuitive when you’re uber-busy, but I’ve seen it work wonders for myself and others. No matter how slammed you are, if you carve out some time — even 15 minutes a day — to step back from the fray and look at your life and work from a distance, it will help you use the rest of your time much more effectively. First of all, that 15 minutes can feel like a little mini-vacation, lowering your heart rate and your blood pressure in a way that can feel truly rejuvenating. And that can free you to see your way through a challenging situation, or to think fresh about a problem that’s been stumping you.
A break in routine is sometimes the medicine your doctor can’t prescribe, and the one that you, dogged-determined-focused you, often won’t prescribe for yourself either.
So give yourself permission.
Write to live or live to write…but live if you want something to write about.
Christina Ward is a poet and aspiring author working on her first book, a piece of literary, mainstream fiction. She is a columnist for the Observer News Enterprise newspaper. She earned her Bachelor of Science from Catawba College in Environmental Science, which greatly influences her work. She also studied creative writing and English at Catawba. Her poetry has been published in the Cameo literary magazine, the Arrowhead literary magazine, Vita Brevis Poetry Magazine, and in Wolff Poetry Literary Magazine.