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Five Steps to Managing Writer Meltdowns

by Lisa Jordan

I chatted with a friend the other night and confessed I had a blog post due for ACFW, but I was struggling for a topic. She suggested I write about what was going on currently in my writing world-after all, maybe someone was having a similar issue.

I mentioned my writing avoidance tendencies due to my fears of my work not being good enough. She gave me a gentle scolding and reminded me of recent writing victories. She asked about the source of my fear, and we continued to talk until she had pulled me off the writer’s ledge.

I’ve met award-winning, multi-published, best-selling authors who struggle with the same fears as unpublished writers. Most writers struggle with insecurity in some form. And some of us have had a meltdown or two.

So how can writers handle meltdowns with a positive spirit?

Acknowledge the emotion. For the writer on the verge of meltdown, the way she feels is real. Validate that stress and get to the source of the concern. Once you know the problem, you can put steps in place to create a solution.

Battle the lies with Truth. God does not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of courage. When we surrender our battles to him, He arms us for spiritual warfare. When doubts creep in, shout them down with God’s truth. We are not alone-He is always with us. Stay in the Word to keep Satan’s whispers falling on deaf ears.

Talk with a trusted mentor or writing friend. Chances are you’re not alone in how you’re feeling. Other writers can commiserate. They can offer positive solutions to help you overcome those challenging emotions.

Journal the emotion. Put your feelings on the page so you can use them as a resource when your characters endure a similar situation. Pain shouldn’t be wasted. Difficult circumstances help shape us into the writers we are today-use that wisdom for your characters. Plus, it may be a source of therapy for you.

Brainstorm the story struggle. If a certain scene or story element is causing your stress, then brainstorm with a writing friend or craft partner. A set of fresh eyes may see the issue more clearly. If you’re struggling how to fix the story problem, talk to your agent, editor, mentor or critique partner. Keep your writing library stocked with craft books so you can reference them to learn how to strengthen your skills.

Isaiah 41:13 is one of the verses I have posted on my writing desk: “For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”

Substitute right with write and remember God is already aware of our struggles. He’s gone before us and prepared the way. Lean on Him, and He will guide you along the path He’s laid before you.


Lisa Jordan writes contemporary Christian romance for Love Inspired. Her debut novel, Lakeside Reunion, won the 2012 Carol Award for short contemporary romance. She is represented by Rachelle Gardner of Books & Such. Learn more about her at www.lisajordanbooks.com.

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13 Responses to Five Steps to Managing Writer Meltdowns

  1. That infamous writer’s ledge. Been there a few times. Great advice for ourselves and also to help someone else with. Especially liked the 4th bullet…only a writer would think about journaling the pain to have ready for a character.

  2. Melissa Tagg says:

    Love this, Lisa. Your second bullet, especially…replacing the lies in our head with truth. Seriously good stuff! :)

  3. I really appreciate this post, Lisa. I have the same struggles. I love the first point. I often have to remind myself that a spirit of fear isn’t from God and strive to focus on the things He wants for me.

  4. Excellent article Lisa and a wonderful way of turning a negative emotion into a positive outcome.

  5. Lisa Jordan says:

    Pat–I learned about emotion journaling at the first Deep Tinkers retreat.

    Melissa–Truth builds our confidence, whereas lies fill us with discouragement.

    Julie, I think every writer has had some sort of fear. Thank God for His courage!

    Reebs, your constant modeling of channeling negative emotions into positive ones helped me to write this!

  6. Beth K Vogt says:

    Appreciate the honesty, Lisa, but I expect nothing but that from you. Thanks for offering such practical help to other writers!

  7. Love this! I definitely turn to my husband and/or amazing CP to talk my off the ledge sometimes when I just feel like my work is horrible. :) They help me to replace the lies with truth.

  8. Good stuff, Lisa. I’m printing this out to keep close at hand whenever those fears and doubts arise.

  9. Earleen Matthews says:

    Loved this, Lisa!

  10. ginger takamiya says:

    Oh, Lisa,

    What a beautiful post. Such a hearty reminder for all of us who suffer discouragement. All I can hear is the kindness of God rising from every word. Well done. Thank you so much. I needed those words :)

  11. Christina says:

    Lisa, I was deep in a melt-down last week. I actually thought my head would explode. Your advice is very sound.

    Thank you.

  12. Michelle Lim says:

    Fantastic thoughts, Lisa! You are an amazing cliff whisperer in my life. I appreciate you!

  13. Roxanne Sherwood Gray says:

    Lisa, I so appreciate your transparency. This is such practical advice. Thanks so much!