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Why Freelance Writers Feel Overwhelmed and How to Overcome the Issue

Updated on April 25, 2012
Projects for freelance writers can be like juggling balls.
Projects for freelance writers can be like juggling balls. | Source

Freelance writers often have many projects to juggle at one time. Many freelance writers cannot survive off income from one source and therefore rely on multiple websites or other businesses to generate money.

The various income sources as well as the nature of freelancing itself can contribute to feelings of being overwhelmed. By tackling the issue at its root, writers can reprioritize their schedules, increase their ability to focus, and feel calm than stressed.

Factors That Contribute To Feelings of Being Overwhelmed

Freelance writers may feel overwhelmed due to the independent nature of the freelance business itself. Being a freelancer, the writer is his or her own boss. Writers create their own schedules as they decide which projects to take on and which projects are priorities. While independence is in many ways as positive point, it can also create stress for writers.

Disorganized and overwhelmed.
Disorganized and overwhelmed. | Source

The Working Environment Is Not Organized

When writers try to complete their projects within an unorganized space and without a calendar, their feelings of being overwhelmed are likely to increase substantially. Writers need to be organized. With writing projects for multiple publishers on the go, freelance writers must keep track of deadlines and decide how best to spend each day to get those end dates met on time. Writers may damage their relationships with publishers if they do not complete assignments by deadline.

Without an organized schedule, writers can waver from priorities, spend too much time on social media networks rather than completing writing tasks, and have less income to show at the end of the day. For freelance writers who struggle with organization, they may feel overwhelmed.

For writers who work from their homes, disorganized offices and unclear work calendars can lead to missed deadlines, lost paper, and disorganized thoughts. Writers may feel pressure to meet deadlines at the last moment due to poor planning. Feelings of being overwhelmed surface within these writers.

Lack of Time Management

Without a direct boss to keep tabs on their days like in the typical office, freelance writers have to manage their own time. If they spend half of their work day watching television from home, there is not a supervisor to tell them to get back to their desks or to how to better spend their time. Mismanagement of time means that writers are under considerable pressure the day before a project is due to get it completed; the weeks before were not spent preparing for the task due to poor time management skills.

How to Overcome Feelings of Being Overwhelmed

Treat Writing like a Job with Shifts

Writers need to treat their job just like a shift work job, where they work a certain time, with breaks, and stick to the daily schedule. If nights work best for individuals, they need to devote this time to writing. By repeating this schedule for a considerable amount of time, it will become routine for the writers. They are kept on task and are less likely to mismanage their time. They are therefore less likely to feel overwhelmed.

Keep a schedule to reduce stress.
Keep a schedule to reduce stress. | Source

Be More Organized

Freelance writers are able to develop habits to make them more efficient within their daily work schedules, which reduces their feelings of being overwhelmed. Writers need to recognize their weaknesses and work to strengthen them! If writers are not organized, they need to admit it and then seek ways to rectify the situation.

Writers are encouraged to create a schedule, whether it is electronic or a paper copy, to write down deadlines for writing projects.

Seeing the deadlines in print helps writers feel less overwhelmed in a few ways. First, the writer no longer needs to keep the information in his or her mind, which can be mentally tiring. Second, writers are now able to visualize what needs to be done and organize how they will achieve their goals. The calendar is also a reminder that there are projects to be completed which will help keep the writer at his or her desk rather than watching the television!

Talk To Other People

Talking to other people is another great way for freelance writers to feel less overwhelmed. Approach other writers to inquire if they have had similar feelings and how they cope with the issues. Useful tips can be learned through these conversations.

Talking to family and friends is also helpful. Simply speaking to someone else about one’s feelings may help the writer come up with solutions as they articulate their feelings into words. Also, the feelings may not feel as paramount when they are spoken aloud.

There Are Solutions

While freelance writers can feel overwhelmed due to a disorganized work environment and poor time management, the writers can create new routines that lower their stress levels and help them feel more in control. Feeling overwhelmed does not have to be a permanent state of mind for freelance writers.

Do You...

Do You Feel Overwhelmed Today?

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    • ChristyWrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Birmingham 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      @Emma, thanks for stopping by. You are making your way as you have created an HP profile :) You could start with writing as your "second" job and see how it goes - experiment to see if it's a good fit for you. Best wishes for you!

      @midget38, Organization is so important. I hope the tips help you and thanks for the comment.

      @Jools99, Try your best to stick to a schedule and remember to take breaks. Please let me know if you need help in your writing journey, you go get 'em girl!

    • Emma Harvey profile image

      Emma Kisby 

      6 years ago from Berkshire, UK

      Really useful hub here for those in the freelance world. The one thing I come across all the time with freelancers is the feeling of being overwhelmed and disorganized.

      I have been toying with the idea of breaking into the freelance world, but I am overwhelmed just by the thought alone! I worry about lack of income and being able to cope. But help like this is a great reminder to stay grounded, be organized and talk through your problems.

      Voting up :)

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      Great suggestions! Managing as a writer is not easy. You're right in that we have so many projects to handle. votes up!

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools Hogg 

      6 years ago from North-East UK

      Christy, excellent hub. I am writing on HubPages as a sort of hobby at the moment but am leaving work in 2 weeks so it will become (for a little while) my only way to make any money - never my intention when I started writing at HubPages. Getting organised will be the first thing I need to sort out. I need to get that right and treat this more like a job. Your advice is very good, voted up and shared.

    • ChristyWrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Birmingham 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      @prairieprincess, be kind to yourself and realize that with time you will develop a routine. Writing is like having your own business and it takes time to learn and form habits. You sound motivated and that is a great thing! Thanks for the great comment, I really appreciate the positive feedback.

    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 

      6 years ago from Canada

      Christy, this is such an excellent article and really fits into my life right now. I have been working at home for over a year now, but just recently committed to really staying at it for the long haul. I have not organized myself properly and this is something I need to do, to be more effective. It's challenging because all of the work stuff is in the same place as the "home stuff" and I need to develop a better organizing strategy. I like your idea of working shifts. I tend to go all out for a few days and then collapse from fatigue. I need to get more of a balance.

      Thank you so VERY much for your well-written, helpful hub. Take care!

    • ChristyWrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Birmingham 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      @cclitgirl, you are right that it is the 'other' things like social media and other distractions that can keep us from the writing tasks. I'm glad you found the tips helpful and nice to see you!

      @viquar, being positive is so important. Keep working and remember not to push yourself too hard! Thanks for the comment.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 

      6 years ago from Western NC

      You have great tips here! I am trying to "change careers" and become a freelance writer and the process can be daunting. The writing is fun, but it's all the other little things that can make you a little nuts. Wait a minute...I wonder if I'm a little nuts. :) In any case, you wrote some great tips for writers. Voted up.

    • viquar profile image


      6 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Thanks for sharing these valuable tips. I can see some light now at the end of the tunnel. Time management has been my biggest enemy.

    • ChristyWrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Birmingham 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      @Vinaya, thank-you for the read and I am glad you enjoyed the hub.

      @eatforcheaper, the progression can be slow with writing but remember that slow and steady is a great way to get to the goal and that you are getting one step closer every day!

      @robie2, thank-you for the kind words. I like that quote too! I agree that some days are more productive not spent at the computer!

      @DanaTeresa, You are right that disorganization can be exhausting. Thanks for the comment and for helping motivate me right back again today!

    • ChristyWrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Birmingham 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      @Brian, yes we have to take care and schedule our time during out work days. I'm glad you liked the hub and thank-you for stopping by.

      @Talulah, thanks! I do hope you get through those projects and are then able to relax. Remember to breathe and be thankful for the work :)

      @Victoria, thanks for finding me. Billybuc is a great writer. Take time to relax during your day and you may find the organization solution comes to you when you have rested for a bit. Take care.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 

      6 years ago from Nepal

      As a freelancer, I find my job very demanding, even though I work at my convenience.

      Good work Christy!

    • eatforcheaper profile image


      6 years ago from London

      Hey great hub. I'm feeling pretty overwhelmed at the moment because of getting things moving to a level I want them to be at. At the moment, I feel like progression is slow because I have a full time job but I am in no position to leave yet! I can't wait for that day to come!

    • robie2 profile image

      Roberta Kyle 

      6 years ago from Central New Jersey

      Good advice--working from home and being your own boss means setting certain boundaries and I am just awful at boundaries and end up feeling overwhelmed very easily. I get obsessive and some days I just need to take my head out of the computer and go outside and play. I keep remembering the wag who said " he who works for himself has an SOB for a boss" LOL-- nice job-- voted up and interesting.

    • DanaTeresa profile image

      Dana Strang 

      6 years ago from Ohio

      THis is great advice. And very clearly stated, so us unorganized folks will have no problem following it. I have found that when I am unorganized I am much less productive. PArtly becuase it takes much more energy to work in a mess (lloking of rhings, finding work space it tne clutter).

      Thanks for a kick in the pants to stay on track.

    • BRIAN SLATER profile image

      Brian Slater 

      6 years ago from England

      Hi, this hub could have been called 'are you serious about your business' because at some point you have get organised, keep lists, have a calender and so on. I like what you said about spending too much time on social media, it's double edged sword, you need your friends to help and promote your stuff but you can also become lazy and just chat all day. Excellent hub, voted up.

    • Talullah profile image


      6 years ago from SW France

      This is a brilliant hub! I have a busy day today;. I am working on three projects at once, all to deadlines, so I'm feeling a bit frayed around the edges! It's good to know that others feel the same sometimes! Voted up!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 

      6 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Hi, Christy, I found this hub from billybuc's link. Great info. I'm in the process of trying to organize myself as I have been feeling overwhelmed. Thanks for all this information and reminders. Many votes!

    • ChristyWrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Birmingham 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      @Jackie, it sounds like you have a lot of interests! I think that is great. Yes, with some organization I know you will do great :) You take lovely photos.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      6 years ago from The Beautiful South

      It is so hard for a schedule. I love and want to write but I am into photography too and that takes so much time and I also write under another name but not for pay, so far I don't write for pay under this name either! lol I am trying to organize though.

    • ChristyWrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Birmingham 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      @aladinsane, I am learning each day and hope that shows in my writing! As for the Canucks, it is frustrating that they are already eliminated. They are who I root for. We'll see what happens with the upset tonight..

    • ChristyWrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Birmingham 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      @emilybee, I also make a lot of notes. You sound like you are right on track, your organized mess as you put it is working well for you! Thanks for the positive comments :)

      @teaches, Your organization is helping you regularly publish your hubs and I wish you all the best! I'm glad you identified with the points and find them useful too.

    • ChristyWrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Birmingham 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      @Curiad, thank-you!

      @Rabbit, a "do-to" list is a great way for you to stay on track and also reduce stress. I'm pleased you enjoyed the hub. Thanks for the vote and comment!

    • ChristyWrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Birmingham 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      @Bill, I'm glad you identify with the points made. I am not surprised that you follow these "rules" as you are very productive in your day! Thanks for the compliments and for linking to your own hubs too!

    • aladinsane profile image


      6 years ago from Cornwall, Ontario, CANADA

      Another great hub in a long line of 'em! Wow, what a difference some confidence can make, eh! Hehe - i am overwhelmed that the Canucks are out of the playoffs and Ottawa still has a chance coming into game 7 tonite against the No. 1 Seeded New York Rangers! Ottawa was predicted to finish last in the season and Vancouver was predicted to be a cup finalist!

    • Hally Z. profile image

      Hally Z. 

      6 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      Hi Christy, I wrote something similar to this for a client of mine. In a nutshell, my main issue is time management, especially since the hours of 8-5 are excellent for running errands while everyone else is stuck at work. But then, I get nothing done on my writing...argh! I've forced myself to at least put in solid chunks of writing time during the day, like 3-4 hours at a clip. That helps me tackle my assignments. Thanks much for this helpful post!

    • emilybee profile image


      6 years ago

      My mess is perfectly organized to me :) I have my notebooks and laptop on the couch usually when I'm writing. I do use a calendar though and make tons of notes on little scraps of paper. That's the only way I'm able to pay my bills on time :) You offer great solutions Christy!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      6 years ago

      I found that organizing my schedule made a big difference in my overall approach to writing. Your advice to keep a tab on the social media exchange is also a point to keep in mind, it can eat up valuable writing time. Thanks for the encouragement in your hub. Voted up!

    • Curiad profile image

      Mark G Weller 

      6 years ago from Lake Charles, LA.

      Very well said Christy.

    • rabbit75 profile image

      Vic Jong 

      6 years ago

      This is an interesting hub Christy, and I have to admit, I often feel overwhelmed when it comes to writing. Usually, I have to write a "To Do" list and map out what I need to do.

      You're right, disorganized work space as well as approach leads to feeling overwhelmed when it comes to freelance writing.

      Great hub and pointers on how to combat this...voted up and interesting!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Christy, your suggestions and points are right on. First and foremost it needs to be treated like a business. Then the day needs to be organized properly...all of your points are excellent and I had to learn them all the hard way.

      I'm going to link this to my freelance writing hubs. GReat job!


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