Olivia is a web designer who works with women-owned businesses. She loves helping female entrepreneurs create websites that are as beautiful as they are functional. While she loves working with clients one on one, she wants to increase her impact and help even more people with her special knowledge. So, she decided to write a book.
After a few months of writing, Olivia found herself feeling out of sorts. She’d go to her computer to start writing for the day and instead of accomplishing her writing goal, she’d simply stare at the screen. She had notebooks that were overflowing with ideas and plenty of encouragement from people who told her she should write a book. But she still couldn’t seem to make progress
When she complained about it to a friend, the other woman suggested that perhaps Olivia wasn’t unmotivated. Maybe she was in fact overwhelmed with the book writing process.
It doesn’t matter how much knowledge and expertise you have, what type of book you are writing, or even the desire and motivation you start with. Any person can become overwhelmed in writing a book. Here are twelve signs it might be happening to you…
Sign #1: Difficulty Focusing
You have difficulty focusing. You might sit down at your desk and not know what to get started on. It seems like all of your ideas are equally important, but you can’t work up the energy to get started or even care.
Like Olivia, you might sit there lost in thought, unable to be productive. An hour passes and you haven’t gotten anything done. Each day, you leave your writing time feeling frustrated. As time goes on, the pressure starts to mount as one day’s unfinished writing is added to the next. This can create a crippling cycle of overwhelm.
Sign #2: Procrastination
Procrastination can be another sign that you’re overwhelmed. You started writing your book with so much passion but now you avoid your writing time.
Anxiety can also be a direct result of dealing with overwhelm. You might avoid writing because the overwhelm makes you afraid that you’re just going to fail anyway. As you procrastinate, the anxiety continues to build because you get further and further behind on what you need to do.
To cope with this, you might try to force yourself into a writing day or weekend where you say you’re going to spend dedicated hours to catch up on your writing. In the You struggle the entire time, mostly frustrated because the writing seems to be so difficult. But now you’ve created a cycle where you procrastinate then you’re suddenly productive for a few hours or days only to crash and burn.
Sign #3: You’re Irritable
Another sign that you’re struggling is irritability. The little annoyances that life deals you, such as having to wait in line, suddenly feel like catastrophes. You might realize that you’re snapping at people, including family and friends. You have little to no patience for things or people anymore.
Sign #4: Unexplained Stomach Upset
Many people who develop overwhelm start to have physical side effects because overwhelm is stressful and stress harms the body. You start to feel sick to your stomach or you may have other gastrointestinal issues. These can range from mild discomfort to more severe.
Stomachaches and nausea are both common results of overwhelm. This is because your body begins to release more of the stress hormone known as cortisol. The excess cortisol leads to constipation, stomach cramps and even diarrhea.
Sign #5: Exhaustion
Overwhelm with writing your book can make you feel tired frequently. Stress depletes your mental and physical resources, leaving you exhausted even when you’re not sleepy.
This symptom of overwhelm can become a never-ending cycle. Being tired makes you feel more drained which makes the overwhelm worse. Even if you do manage to get some rest, you’re not refreshed and dread starting a new day.
Sign #6: Changes in Your Eating Habits
The truth is that overwhelm affects every area of your life, including your eating habits. For some people, being overwhelmed means they don’t feel like eating at all, so they skip meals or don’t eat enough. This brings on physical symptoms from not getting enough calories or the right amount of nutrients.
However, some folks deal with overwhelm by eating too much. It’s easier to turn to food when you’re upset as a way of trying to manage your emotions. But since overeating leads to shame and guilt for many people, it can make you feel worse about yourself.
Sign #7: Memory Lapses
You’ve started missing appointments and meetings. You didn’t get that one tiny task done for a client that you meant to a week ago. You can’t remember where you put that important file you needed.
Overwhelm can cause memory lapses and difficulty recalling important facts. As your brain is struggling to absorb and retain too much information, it begins deleting things that don’t seem as essential in the moment.
Sign #8: Frequent Mistakes
Everyone makes mistakes now and again. But if you’re frequently making mistakes then it might be caused by overwhelm. Since you’re experiencing difficulty concentrating and problems with memory recall, it’s easy to make silly mistakes that you normally wouldn’t.
Sign #9: Negative Self-Talk
Many entrepreneurs and business leaders struggle with negative self-talk from time to time. But what you may not realize is this can be one of the first warning signs of book writing overwhelm. You might stop believing in yourself and your abilities. All you can see are the goal you have yet to accomplish.
You tell yourself that you’ll never be able to finish your book or that your book is beyond your skill level and you should just give it up. But if you allow it to continue, negative self-talk can eventually affect both your performance and your profits.
Sign #10: Insomnia
Insomnia is a common side effect of overwhelm. You may notice that you have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. You can’t get your mind to shut off. You wake up worried about how long it’s taking your to finish your book or you can’t sleep because you’re struggling to come up with solutions to break through the writer’s block you’ve been facing.
Sign #11: Isolating Yourself
Withdrawing from social situations isn’t uncommon when you’re overwhelmed. Maybe you don’t want to hang out with your friends. Perhaps you don’t have the energy and you don’t feel excited about the prospect of doing anything. You might even cancel events that you used to attend regularly and loved.
There are two reasons you might be doing this during times of overwhelm. The first reason is that you feel you can’t handle one more thing even if that thing is enjoyable. The second reason is that you might feel as if you deserve to be punished since you’re so far behind. But both of these reasons are keeping you from what you really need—contact with people who care about you.
Sign #12: Giving Up Self-Care
If you’re overwhelmed, the first thing you might let go of is self-care. You stop eating healthy. You skip out on your exercise class. You stop taking time to journal or read before bed.
On the surface, it seems like a good plan. If you stop taking care of yourself, you’ll have more time to focus on your book project. But what you don’t realize is the book ceases to exist without you. If you’re not taking care of yourself—your most important asset—then you might as well be burning your pages.
Good News: It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way
Maybe you became overwhelmed shortly after starting your book. Perhaps you simply think that this is the way it is. But it doesn’t have to be this way. You can write your book and be free from overwhelm. In fact, you can actually enjoy your book writing journey with my new workbook, Battling Book Writing Overwhelm. Download it today!