Lori was right. I’ve got no answers here. I’m imagining that back when we finalized this year’s topic calendar and decided this week we’d talk about Overwhelmed Author Syndrome, we all thought: all our books will be launched by then, and surely we’ll be feeling like pros! Like we’ve totally got a handle on things.
But the truth is, I’m overwhelmed constantly. The good news is, I’ve learned a few things along the way. For example:
1. Write Down EVERYTHING. I used to be able to keep my life more or less in order, relying on my planner for big deadlines and life events. Nowadays, if I need to send someone an email or transfer a load of laundry from the washer to the dryer, it simply won’t happen if I haven’t written myself a reminder. So, to avoid seeming like you’re ignoring people’s emails and ending up with damp-smelling laundry that you have to rewash several times, write it down.
2. Forget About Doing Enough. You will simply never, ever feel like you’re doing enough for your book. If you’re anything like me you’ll have a constantly growing mental list of people you want to reach out to, ideas you want to pursue, events you’d like to plan. And it simply won’t all get done because a) you didn’t write it all down and b) who really has the time? Maybe you’ll only end up realizing about 60% of those ideas. Pat yourself on the back for all you have done. Don’t let the overwhelming nature of all you should be doing make you lose sight of all you have accomplished. In fact, next to that list of to-do’s, keep another list: Things I’ve Made Happen.
3. It’s Not The End of the World If You Take a Break. This weekend, while visiting family in Miami, I didn’t post anything on Facebook. I barely tweeted. I resisted the urge to post a picture a friend sent me of Chasing the Sun sitting pretty at my local indie book store’s Best Sellers table (!!!) because I realized it could wait. I went stand-up paddle boarding in the ocean with my husband and for 90 blissful minutes I thought only of the water and the sun and the wind and the peaceful, blissful moment I was in. This weekend, my book didn’t need my every thought or my blogging or my checking its sales rankings. But I needed that time and energy to myself, my family, and friends.
4. Gratitude is Everything. Not to get preachy or too zen here, but anytime I start stressing about PR or upcoming events’ attendance or how the book is doing, I try to pause and be grateful for everything. Not just the book, but the life and the people that have allowed it to happen. I’ve come to realize gratitude is something we feel for others, but equally important, it’s a gift we give ourselves. None of this is worth anything if we don’t take a moment to appreciate it.
5. One More Secret. I try but don’t always succeed at following my own advice. On a good day I follow one or two of these and then next day I follow the others. But I try, and on a really good day, I give myself some slack for my little failures. Because no matter what we do or don’t do, there’s nothing that can take away what we’ve already accomplished.
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