How to Avoid Overwhelmed Author Syndrome

3350364_origWhen my book baby was launched into the world on Jan. 6, I was seven months pregnant with two real babies (yes, TWO!) and I already had two kids under the age of four (see: what happens when you get drunk on vacation and throw caution to the wind). It was a busy time, what with the 200+ person launch party I was planning, the umpteen blog interviews I had to do, the magazine article deadlines I had for my freelance writing career and that whole mothering bit (which is challenging enough, even when you’re not waddling around on cankles and unable to get up from a supine position without assistance).

I’m not complaining— I fortunately never lost sight of how lucky I was to get to do any of those things, particularly seeing my dream of having a published book (and getting to celebrate that book at a fantabulous launch party) come true. But that knowledge, while it did allow me to keep a positive attitude throughout, it unfortunately didn’t keep me from getting ridiculously tired — and yes, a tad bit overwhelmed.

If you’re an author — whether you’re with a huge house or you’re self-publishing — you too, are going to get OAS (Overwhelmed Author Syndrome). It comes with the job, along with a case of neuroses and the impulse to check your Amazon rankings 17 times per hour.

Here are a few ways to combat it:

1. Write promotional essays, articles, blog interviews, guest posts, etc. as soon as you get the assignments. My publicist was a rock star and got me a thousand (give or take) promotional opportunities in various media outlets. Some of them had 3 and 4 week deadlines. I’m a known procrastinator. BUT, I knew if I waited until the last minute, I’d have a thousand (give or take) of these to write at once and even the most experienced procrastinator would crash under that kind of workload.

2. Ask for help. My launch party had a gajillion moving parts between the raffle, the food, the drinks, the hosts, the media, etc. I had close friends that helped me not only remember the details (my seven-month pregnant brain was prone to forgetting), but also take some of the smaller tasks (setting up the raffle display and coming to decorate the event room the day of) off my hands. Couldn’t have done it without them.

3. Give yourself a break. In the height of my OAS, when I was angry at myself for not being farther along in my WIP or so tired that I let my kids watch Sesame Street instead of taking them to the park, or the time that I completely forgot to write one of those promotional interviews and missed the deadline— I took a deep breath, stepped back and reminded myself that I was only human. The world will miraculously keep on spinning, even if you don’t write 2,000 words that day.

4. Celebrate! It’s so easy to get caught up in the hoopla, pressure and stress of a book launch, but try not to forget the whole reason you’re there — YOU WROTE A BOOK! Take a minute, take a deep breath and revel in your accomplishment. Then get back to checking Amazon like a crazy person.

Author: Colleen Oakley

Colleen Oakley is the author of BEFORE I GO (Simon & Schuster/Gallery, Jan. 2015), a love story. A former editor for Marie Claire and Women's Health & Fitness, she's now an Atlanta-based freelance writer. Find out more at

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