1. Find your go-to relaxation technique. It doesn’t have to be traditional meditation or yoga or anything like that. For you it could be taking a walk, listening to music, or baking. But you need that non-writing thing to turn to.
2. Trim down your to-do list. When you’re feeling overwhelmed already, trying to maintain the same level of productivity — or increasing it — is only going to intensify that feeling.
3. Focus on one “essential” task and one “nonessential” task. Write if you have to, write if you want to, but try to fixate your thoughts on just one project at a time until your work on that project for the day is done.
4. Leave room in your schedule for “nothing time.” What you end up doing with that time is completely up to you, but keep it spontaneous, even if nothing else in your day is.
5. Give yourself permission to write things you’ll never publish, even if it’s only for five minutes at a time. Write about whatever you need to write about to relieve some of the stress you might be feeling.
6. Write in a different location than you usually do, even if it’s just on the other side of the room. Sometimes just shifting positions can help you focus on what you need to accomplish in the moment.
7. Admit that you’re overwhelmed. Sometimes even just saying it out loud to yourself helps you recognize that you need to change something in today’s routine to avoid unnecessary stress.
8. Don’t just stick to writing. Turn to other creative outlets, as you see fit, to give your mind room to breathe and a chance to exercise in a different way.
9. Move. Walk, run, dance — give yourself a physical reminder that you are here, you’re in the present, you are capable of breathing, your heart is still beating. You can do this.
10. Be honest with yourself. Can you handle everything that’s on your plate right now? If you can’t, even just temporarily, walk away from the non-essential things. It’s OK. You’re more important than the length of your to-do list.
11. Remember that you are human. Humans get overwhelmed. It’s normal. You’re allowed to feel it.
12. Write your way through your overwhelm. Write about your problems, possible solutions, your feelings, your worries, your fears. You are a writer. Words are how you process the world around you. Use them.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is an editor and writer, and a 12-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food, and Star Wars.