Feeling overwhelmed is part of the writerly game . . . or actually part of every artistic game. Even worse is that this feeling never really goes away. It keeps walking right in the front door of your life without ringing the doorbell. Not even a howdy-do. Just blammo! There it is.
It's scary to create. What's in an artists' head is rarely reproduced exactly as envisioned, which can feel like failure. Then there are all the naysayers out there who don't understand your art and question and nitpick until you bleed. Add in a healthy dose of perfectionism, because hey, who doesn't want to create their absolute best work possible, and is it any wonder that an artist is insecure?
One word: deadlines. Take a look at that word, specifically the first half. The word deadline is like a threat, a gun-toting, blow your brains out kind of word. I shudder even when I send my work in a week early just to avoid the dang thing.
Everyone is stressed out nowadays. Time demands are crazy, from the cable guy wanting access to your home to hook up the whatzamagig, to the paperwork for quarterly tax returns, it seems like everyone wants a piece of you. The demands of everyday life eat into an artists' schedule and that creates overwhelming angst.
So . . . what to do about all this? Here are a few coping strategies from Michelle's Magic Bag of Tricks.
Set Goals That are Attainable
The thought of sitting down to write an entire novel is enough to make me break out in hives. I can't do it. That's too big. But I can sit down to write one scene of a novel. That's attainable. Break down huge projects into bite-sized pieces.
Use the Buddy System
No one understands an artist like another artist. Find one to share your burdens and your joys with.
Practice the Art of Saying No
Because you don't punch a time clock or disappear into an office building from 9 to 5 every day, somehow folks figure you must need something to do -- and usually for them. Here's a beauty of a word I've gift-wrapped for you . . . no. Practice saying it in the mirror if you must, but do say it. Often. Especially to time bandits.
You can't completely avoid feeling overwhelmed, and in fact, in small doses it's healthy. It means you're not overly confident. Just don't let it crush you into inaction.
I hear voices. Loud. Incessant. And very real. Which basically gives me
two options: choke back massive amounts of Prozac or write fiction. I chose the
latter. Way cheaper. I've been writing since I discovered blank wall space and
Crayolas. I seek to glorify God in all that I write...except for that graffiti
phase I went through as a teenager. Oops. Did I say that out loud?