Recently I have fallen behind. I have missed deadlines. (Self-imposed deadlines, but still…) I have two revisions to read, a follow-up novel submission, two ebooks to get out, one paperback to proofread, a hi/lo novel to finish writing (and find an editor and a few beta readers), another novel to outline, finishing redoing the CBAY site, and coordinate the new marketing for 7 authors’ books. And that’s just the stuff I need to do in the publishing related arena. Don’t even get me started on my kid’s stuff (like finding a new school) or my health.

Not surprisingly, I’ve been feeling just a tad, maybe a smidgen, overwhelmed.

No matter how well-organized we run our lives, the Fates always seem to enjoy lobbing us a curve ball every now and then just to throw everything out of whack. For some writers that might be a moved-up deadline or it might be the carefully plotted story veering off on some unexpected (but exciting!) course. When our well-ordered life (or novel or marketing campaign) briefly falls apart though, it can be overwhelming to bring it all back together. Since I’ve been dealing with it recently (therefore it’s on my mind), here are a few of the things I do to help bring my overwhelmed world back into a merely “whelmed” world.

  1. Make a list.
    All right, I know this is old and cliched and everybody says it, but seriously, just make a list. Admittedly, the list itself can be overwhelming, but it shows you exactly what needs to be done. Also, it helps keep you from forgetting key items. Once you have your list, you can prioritize and start getting everything back in order.
  2. Stay off social media.
    Unless someone is paying you to blog/tweet/etc, avoid social media until you are caught back up. You’re not going to lose all your followers in one day or even one week if you vanish temporarily, especially if you let everyone know you’re going to be gone for a set period of time. People will respect the fact that you have been prioritizing. Besides, the people you might lose are the ones least interested in your message. Your loyal fans (ie the people that actually buy your books) aren’t going to go anywhere.

    I also have an interesting anecdote on this note. A friend of a friend was irritated with her agent. The agent had told the friend that he/she couldn’t read the friend’s latest manuscript  because he/she was just too busy. However, this person had enough free time to tweet every 10 minutes during the work day. If you tell people you don’t have time to do things, but still find time to spend on social media, people feel as if you don’t prioritize them. So, just lay off Twitter for a week. I promise you can do it. I took my own advice on this and managed to not tweet for 10 days when I was really behind.

  3. Let people know you are running behind.
    You don’t have to tell them why you are overwhelmed. In fact, I would generally recommend that you don’t unless they ask. You don’t want to make excuses or act like you’re trying to justify something. Simply apologize and let them know when you will be caught up (or back on Twitter or whatever).

    And most importantly,

  4. Don’t beat yourself up over it.
    Life happens. We all get overwhelmed sometimes. Try to remedy whatever got you behind in the first place, and then start trying to catch back up. You can do it. We all can.