Revolutionize Your Writing Routine: 12 Strategies to Beat Overwhelm and Elevate Your Craft!

The late American writer, Joseph Heller, once said, “Every writer I know has trouble writing.”

Truer words have never been spoken. Even accomplished and experienced writers face days when they feel like the words just won’t come out. They’re either uninspired or facing the dreaded ‘writers block’.

Inexperienced writers may procrastinate or fear writing and view it as an arduous chore.

Despite the excitement of starting on a new novel, blog or anything else that requires regular writing – you may still face writer overwhelm.

The pressure to meet deadlines, the struggle to come up with the right words that resonate with your readers, and the thought of sacrificing Netflix or some other fun activity to do hours of writing – well, that’s enough to strike fear in most writers’ hearts.

In this article, you’ll discover 12 tips to beat writer overwhelm. They’re not mind-blowing or novel ideas… but they’re highly effective. Let’s begin!

  1. Have a dedicated writing schedule

Depending on your situation, if you’re a professional writer working your own hours, you can decide exactly when and for how long you’ll write.

Ideally, you’ll want to work in bursts of 90 minutes… followed by a 30-minute break.

Some people may use Pomodoro timers, but these timers go off at 25-minute intervals. This can be distracting and jarring for writers who are in a state of flow. Experienced writers may even be able to work for 4 hours at a go.

It all depends on you. What matters is that you have a fixed time every day where you sit down to write.

If you have a day job, you may have no choice but to squeeze in your writing whenever you have time.

Even here, you’ll want to try as much as possible to write at around the same time daily. (For example, after dinner for about 2 hours).

The goal here is to make writing a daily habit so that it’ll be easier to sit down to write.

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld is known for his strict writing discipline.

He dedicated a time block just for writing, and said, “I could sit there bored. But I couldn’t do anything else except for write.”

You could try the same thing. Over time, you’ll build the writing habit and be less overwhelmed by the fear of the task.

In his book, The War of Art, Steven Pressfield wrote, “It’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write.”

Building the writing habit is crucial to beating writer overwhelm.

  1. Keep your workspace tidy

Imagine working from an untidy desk that has notes, stationery, an unwashed coffee mug and other clutter strewn all over it. That’s enough to overwhelm anyone before they even start writing.

Clean up your workspace so that you ONLY have what you need for your writing work.

Most writers, whether you’re into fiction writing or blogging will only need about 5 items on their desk when they’re working…

  • A laptop/desktop computer
  • A notebook and pen
  • Research and reference notes
  • A clock
  • A bottle of water

That’s really it. The basics – and you can do some of your best writing with nothing else. So keep what you really need and discard what you don’t.

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” – Leonardo da Vinci

  1. Break down your writing tasks

As a writer, depending on your niche/genre//objectives, you may need to perform tasks such as:

  • Researching
  • Brainstorming
  • Outlining
  • Drafting
  • Writing
  • Editing
  • Proofreading

That’s quite a bit of work right there – and if you keep thinking about them, you’ll inevitably feel overwhelmed.

The best way to overcome this problem will be to batch your tasks and do them all at one go.

For example, if you’re writing 5 articles on woodworking, do your research for all 5 articles at once.

Then, move on to outlining them all… followed by writing all 5… and when that’s done, you edit and so on.

By batching your tasks, you’ll not only spend less time flitting between tasks, but you’ll have more mental energy and focus which translates to easier writing – and less overwhelm.

  1. Set realistic writing goals

If you’re a beginner writer who finds it hard to put words on paper or screen, don’t set a goal of writing 5,000 words a day.

You just might go insane trying to achieve this unrealistic goal.

Aim for 500-1000 words. This bite-sized and manageable goal will be easier to accomplish. Don’t try to do too much too soon.

Running when no one is chasing you is pointless.

As you become a faster (and better) writer, you’ll be able to do more writing in the same space of time. So go easy on yourself.

  1. Use ChatGPT and other productivity tools

Tools such as ChatGPT, Notion, Scrivener, etc. are being used by millions of people to accelerate their content creation.

You’d be wise to leverage these tools in your writing processes. Not only will you save time and energy, but your output may increase too. This will mean completing writing projects faster and more easily.

Less overwhelm for you! Familiarize yourself with the different productivity/writing tools and see which ones will aid you in your writing endeavors.

  1. Keep a “Pending” notebook

During the writing process, you may find that new ideas/tasks pop into your head for no reason at all. Here you’re trying to focus on your writing, but now you have new ideas demanding your attention.

This happens to all of us, and is nothing to panic over.

Keep a notebook to jot down your new ideas.

These can be pending tasks that you’ll attend to later – after you’ve completed your writing for the day.

You don’t want to get distracted and go down the rabbit hole of new ideas for an hour or so – only to realize that you’ve not completed your writing work yet. Gasp! Overwhelm time!!!

Jot your ideas down… and carry on with your writing. Keep the main thing the main thing.

  1. Avoid comparing yourself with other writers

This is a big one among many writers. They compare just about everything from their writing style to vocabulary – and place accomplished writers on a pedestal that they feel they may never reach.

The truth is that every writer has his/her own unique ‘writing voice’. This is what differentiates you from all the other writers.

Why would you want to be like them… when you can be the best you possible?

A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it; it just blooms.

You need to keep working on your craft and honing your skills until you bloom into the awesome writer that you’re destined to be.

Avoid comparing yourself, and you’ll not be overwhelmed for nothing.

  1. Outsource some tasks

If you have the budget for it, you may outsource tasks such as editing, proofreading, etc. to qualified freelancers on sites like Upwork.

By leveraging other people’s skills and effort, you’ll reduce your workload – and be less prone to writer overwhelm.

Your time will be freed up, less mental energy will be required from you, and you can solely focus on what you do best – writing.

  1. Don’t aim for perfection

Aiming for excellence is a noble ideal… but perfection?

Definitely not.

Avoid the curse of being a perfectionist. By constantly criticizing your own work and thinking it could be better, you’ll never get anything done.

Do your best, get the writing edited and polished – and send it out into the world with your blessings. Then start on your next project.

That’s how you’ll become a winning author/writer.

Canadian writer, Margaret Atwood, who wrote The Handmaid’s Tale once said, “If I waited for perfection, I’d never write a word.”

You can trust her on that one.

  1. Eliminate distractions

This is obvious. When you write, you write – nothing else.

Leave your mobile phone in another room so that you’re not distracted by messages, calls, notifications, etc.

Let your family know you’re working and should be left to work without interruptions from them. It can be highly exasperating when you’re writing and you keep losing your flow and train of thought because of unnecessary distractions.

Eliminate distractions mercilessly.

  1. Set aside time to relax

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Jill too… and any writer who does nothing but write.

Spend time on other activities (besides writing) to de-stress your mind and relax your body. Exercise often so that you’re healthy.

A healthy body leads to a healthy mind – and you’ll be more energetic and alert during your writing sprints.

  1. Embrace your writer identity

This may sound like self-help woo woo… but it works.

In order to be an outstanding writer, it’ll help if you identify as one.

Visualize yourself as someone who loves to write. You find happiness in writing. It comes to you easily and your work inspires anyone who reads it.

If this is your identity, why would you be overwhelmed?

Would you even procrastinate?

You wouldn’t.

This is your calling – and you’re proud to be a writer.

This is who you are. In fact, you’re going to stop reading this article right now and run off to write.

Use the pointers in this article to defeat writer overwhelm and become the wordsmith you’ve always dreamed of being.

“The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.” – Mary Heaton Vorse