Since 1994, the submission strategists here at Writer’s Relief have been taking phone calls that sound something like this:
Help! I’m drowning in busy! I know I should be making submissions to literary agents and editors, but I just can’t find the time and focus to do it—not to mention holding down a job, taking care of a family, and improving my writing technique at the same time. Please—somebody—throw me a flotation device!
And at this point, our (genuinely caring and calm) submission strategists usually talk the potential client down from the proverbial ledge, and together we take a good, hard look at the caller’s goals and whether Writer’s Relief can help get them there.
If you’re feeling too frazzled, here are our recommendations for making submissions:
1. Breathe. Seriously. When you’re all in a tizzy and have a thousand things to do, the absolute first thing you should do is stop and take three deep breaths. Remind yourself to stay in the present moment. Will yourself to relax. The work ahead of you will be easier to do if you approach it in a state of relaxed confidence.
2. Steal a little peace. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s important to treat yourself to a little TLC. Tidy up your work space and reduce visual clutter. Light a candle, put on some soft music, and go into the tasks ahead with a calm, peaceful state of mind.
3. Remember, you can only do one thing at a time. Often, that frazzled feeling creates a vicious cycle. The more stressed we feel, the more stressed-out we get—until all the things we have to do seem enormously out of control.
But consider this: In spite of the world’s multitasking technologies, you really can only do one thing at a time. So allow yourself to focus on that one thing (in this case, your submissions). Give yourself permission to focus. Then, allow your determination to take hold.
4. Get visual (and realistic). When you feel frazzled, small tasks start to look enormous. The things you have to do next week feel like they have to be done right now.
So take a new approach: List all your tasks on sticky notes. You can color-code them based on urgency or group them based on other categories.
Once your work is on the wall, you can see what’s truly urgent, what can be put off, and how much work is really before you. That one task that feels like a boulder sitting on your chest might turn out to be a pebble once you take your emotions out of the equation.
5. When in doubt, get help. This may seem like a no-brainer. But so many of us get used to shouldering every burden alone. It can be difficult to admit (to yourself or others) that you need help. It can be even more difficult to ask for it.
Don’t be afraid to seek the help you need. And know that Writer’s Relief is here if you need us, with pricing that works on almost any budget and lots of freebies all over our website.
Here are a few more tips to beat that frazzled feeling before it sneaks up on you!
1. Take some to time to assess, and then kick your bad writing habits out the door.
2. Quit procrastinating. Procrastination makes that stressed-out feeling worse!
3. Create your Emergency Writers’ Block Kit.
Remember, we have lots of fantastic information to help you make the best possible submissions in our Free Publishing Took Kit! And our submission strategists are standing by during business hours if you’d like to call.
QUESTION: How do YOU treat yourself to TLC when you feel frazzled?
I think it’s always a good idea to schedule out your time. Set aside 15-30 minutes EACH NIGHT to work on your submissions. To help me with deadlines, I also created a schedule. I looked at all the journals/editors/etc and grouped them together by when they open their submission process. So I know what I need to submit from month to month. I’ve created folders on my computer to keep track of what I submitted to who, etc. Staying organized can be a huge help in submitting quickly and easily.
Thank you for excellent hints.
These are just what this ‘frazzled’ writer needs to be reminded of, I started focusing on cleaning up my writing area and now full time teaching has pulled me away from completing that task. I think a new pace is now in place with this gentle reminder. Soft music and small steps to complete the clean up process and then scheduled writing alone time. Thanks for some great tips, reminders and thoughts.
Love the advise you give and I try to apply to as much as I can that I find helpful. The problem is getting the agents to respond back. Submitting is easy it is the waiting for the reply if I get one or do I keep searching.