How to Break the Constant Cycle of Writer Stress Syndrome

StressedDo you ever get stressed out as a writer?
Don’t lie to me. I know you do. As much as I want to tell everyone that I have the perfect job that I’m passionate about and that I’m 100% happy and never stressed, I know it’s a flat-out blatant lie.

So don’t even pretend to give me that crap about how you never feel like falling asleep on top of your writing notes and setting aside all your projects until tomorrow.

Last week I announced that I had too much on my plate to update The Writing Realm three times per week. Not only am I trying to build my freelance business, but I’m also taking college classes. The Writing Realm is a hobby. How can I justify spending so much time updating it?

But I told you guys I’d think about it, and I know there’s no way I can just leave you hanging and disappear from this blog. After all, I love writing about writing, and by giving up not this blog, I feel like I’d be giving up on a little piece of myself.

So don’t worry. I’m not going anywhere. Instead, I’ve decided to rearrange my blogging schedule (as per one of the tips I gave in my article Remedies for a Blogging Crisis: What to Do When You Don’t Have the Time to Update Your Blog). I’ll be posting the same useful information you’ve been seeing from me, only I’ll be doing it once a week every Wednesday. In case that’s not enough for you, I’ll also be updating my blog on my writer website every Friday at

I wrote that update post in the heat of Writer’s Stress Syndrome, which seems to be a constant cycle of “Oh no, I’m so stressed out and overloaded with work” to “Crap, what am I going to do with myself this week?” Then the craziness returns only to bite me in the butt again.

Sound familiar?

That’s why this week I’ve decided to talk about this problem not only to give myself time to take my own advice, but to help you break the cycle of Writer Stress Syndrome, too. So let’s get started and discover what we can do to relieve our writing stress.

Take a Break

Seriously, just put your computer down and get out of the house.

I can go a week without ever leaving the house. It would be longer if my husband and I didn’t go to visit his parents every weekend. At the end of the week, my husband sometimes asks, “Did you even get out of the house this week?”

With a shy, guilty smile, I answer, “No.”

Then he says something along the lines of, “How is that even possible?”

So on Monday when it reached a whopping high of 52 degrees here in Wisconsin, I was happy to get outside and head on a walk. And let me tell you, it felt good.

You really really don’t have to devote your life to your computer. When an opportunity arises to put things aside so you can clear your head, if only for an hour, take it. Don’t wait until you’re already burnt out to give your mind (and your fingers) a rest.

Plan for the Unknown

One of the biggest things that stresses me out as a freelance writer is when I get an unexpected assignment from a client, especially when the due date is short. Of course, I’m not going to turn down the assignment, but it puts that much more pressure on me to complete this work I hadn’t planned for earlier in the week.

But it’s not just new assignments that get to me. Sometimes my grocery shopping trips take longer than expected or something goes wrong with my computer, which puts me farther behind on my to-do list.

My best piece of advice: Don’t overload your schedule. You probably know you can write five client assignments, write your daily blog post, do an hour of marketing, catch up on your favorite blogs, and still have enough time to cook supper all in one day, but did you leave room for the unexpected?

Furthermore, do the most important items on your task list earlier in the day. That way if something goes wrong with your computer or you end up with limited time, you’ve already completed the most important tasks for the day and you can put reading your favorite blogs on the back burner while you attend to the issue at hand.

Set a Stop Time for the Day

I’m usually done working around 4 p.m., but on days when I have other obligations or errands to run, I usually end up working later into the night.

However, I have a basic rule that I don’t work past 6 p.m. Not only is this my least productive time of the day, but it only creates a headache knowing that I’m interrupting my relaxation time only to stress myself out!

If you’re more productive later at night, perhaps set a start time to begin working on your writing projects. You need at least some time every day to step away from your writing so you don’t get burnt out.

Don’t Do Writing You Hate

Earlier this week I received an assignment that I knew was only going to cause a headache for me and the client. So I kindly declined saying I wasn’t comfortable writing about the topic.

Yes, I know I gave up some extra income in the process, but taking the time to write about a subject I hate is only going to push me to explode. It’s not worth getting paid to break down.

The great thing about being a freelance writer is that you don’t have to accept every assignment that comes your way. If you know it’s only going to stress you out, let it go. Another writing opportunity will come along.

Tell me: What are your tricks for letting go of stress as a writer?

Photo Credit: Image via Flickr by College Degrees 360

Post By Alicia Rades (96 Posts)

Alicia Rades is the founder of The Writing Realm. She has worked as a freelance writer since 2010 and has a passion for writing, blogging, and giving tips. She's always on the lookout to learn new things and loves critically thinking. Connect with her on Google+.

Website: → The Writing Realm



  1. Hi Alicia,
    Great reminders here for all of us.

    Your advice on just putting the computer down and getting out was great. One day last week I left the house and forgot my mobile phone. I ended up at the office all day without it and it was extremely liberating.

    I didn’t have to constantly check and reply to messages. The same can be said of any technology we use now-a-days. Sometimes we thing we just can’t live without this or that gadget, but the fact is that we can and in an earlier time period (man that makes me sound old!) we did.

    Thanks again!
    Mike Allison recently posted…Help! I’ve Been Constipated for a Week! What Should I Do?My Profile

  2. “So don’t even pretend to give me that crap about how you never feel like falling asleep on top of your writing notes and setting aside all your projects until tomorrow.”

    “feel like…” Ha! Been there, done that. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve fallen asleep at my desk over the years. ;) Fortunately that hasn’t happened in a while. I’ve gotten much better about quitting before burn out, out of sheer necessity.

    By the way, I’m glad to see you’ll still be updating this blog! :)
    Jennifer Mattern recently posted…Websites and Blogs Paying $100+ per ArticleMy Profile

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