This theme of overwhelm has come up in multiple book concept consultations in the past week as I’ve met with new participants in my Bring Your Book to Life Program.
As I take them through a visualization I call, “Meet Your Muse,” the messages from their muses have been consistent as well–versions of, “One page at a time.” The muses seem to concur that you don’t need to focus on the big picture the whole time.
Most of these book-writers have begun their outlines–using a process I suggest with color-coded index cards. Once the outline is done, just pick a section and begin. You don’t have to start with the chapter that “scares you” as one writer put it. Choose a fun chapter, or one you feel excited to write. That’s the beauty of the outline. It provides a structure so you can be more free.
I once had a book writing course participant who took one day off a week and planned to write eight hours that day. She said she couldn’t manage writing any other day. She struggled until she could let go of the pressure of an eight hour writing day. Ideally, start with small blocks of time. Try a half hour. If you find yourself just getting into the rhythm of writing, increase your writing blocks to an hour or two. After that, you’ll probably need a break. Take a walk outside. Then begin again.
What are your tricks for getting past overwhelm? Share them as a comment below. Or share your writing challenges and I’ll provide what experience and suggestions I can to help you.
Lisa, I have gone through nearly a month dry spell! I can’t write anything. Then I sat with another friend who’s been working on his second book for the past 6 months. The version he has now is so much better than the one I saw before and we realized that he just had to work through some issues before he could get to a more meaningful product. I have since realized that several of my scenes will have to go because they are the manifestation of me working through issues. To battle that, I’m working on a writing schedule that includes more than one project so I can take a break from the one I’m having trouble with. Seems to be working. Thanks so much for the post!
Lisa Tener says
Great strategy, Jenny. Good luck.
Cyndee Norris says
My manuscripts are ready for the publishing process, but I’m finding the journey to be quite overwhelming. To self publish requires money, which is diffiult to accumulate at this time. When I search for publishers, there are many that require a literary agent, but won’t give me a list of names of the agents that are connected to their company. Is there a book that gives a list that connects publishing companies with affliated agents? Is it better to self publish or to get an agent?
Lisa Tener says
Any literary agent can contact a publisher, but certainly certain agents have established relationships with particular acquisitions agents. I recommend Jeff Hermann’s book on literary agents to get you started, or look at similar books to yours and see who represented them. You’ll need a book proposal (not just a manuscript) for agents and publishers.
See this post for pros and cons to self-publishing vs. traditional.
If you don’t have a following, it may be easier to self-publish. Consider an e-book if you have few resources to publish.
I wanted to go to school to learn to write and the do’s and don’ts to writing but I think at times I get blocked and don’t know how to start and I want to make this book special to help people but also telling my story. But then I don’t know what to do how to do it and what not to say or do without getting into trouble if I should leave names out or certain info and trouble reading the writing work some of the info is on. There is so much to do. I can not afford school and I can not get help. I can not afford to publish my own book or how to save my work on my hard drive or anything to make it happen. I am on disability and I want so much to make at least one dream come true which is writing being able to start to finish my work. I know of no one to work with me. I stay home and don’t drive. So much time has passed and I hope I don’t leave anything out and try to remember all what happen to put in my story. Please help me!
Lisa Tener says
Good news, Connie. You can publish for free on Scribd. You may want to write a disclaimer that details have been changed about people and then do change people’s names and identifying details. And for grammar, contact your local college or high school–a student may volunteer to help for free (high school students need volunteer work to get into colleges!