When You Feel like You Can’t Live up to Your Own Writing

Late night self-reflections of a writer on book deadline

A page from my journal that night.

I was rolling around in bed at 2 am. My mind was racing with outstanding tasks, unwritten paragraphs, and self-doubt.

Together with my co-author John Fitch I’m in the final stages of writing a book about the importance of Time Off. And we are on a rapidly approaching deadline to hand the draft over to our editor.

Many authors I talked to in the past told me that they are a mental mess in the days before handing off their manuscript, but I hoped I’d be immune to this. Especially given the topic we are writing about.

But there I was, unable to sleep because my mind couldn’t stop worrying about the book. And at a deeper layer, worrying about the worrying.

So I did the only thing I could think of at the moment to calm down my mind. I got up and put my thoughts to paper, writing the following words in my notebook to reassure myself of what I am doing.

It helped me a lot. Maybe if you are in a similar situation, it can help you too.

It’s quite ironic. I’m writing a book about how to be less stressed and overworked, but right now that makes me extremely stressed and overworked.

Some days that makes me feel like a fraud… Who am I to tell other people about the importance of Time Off if I can’t live it myself properly?

But then I realize, that’s okay.

Some times do get a bit crazy.

Some times your are on book deadline.

Some times you just need to push that one project the extra mile.

It’s okay. It will pass.

And in its own way, this too is a form of time off. Time off to work on something extremely important and meaningful to you. The courage to say “no” to things, and push back FOMO because you are working on something you deeply care about.

Time off is about balance, and cycles of rest and activity.

And without the crazy times, the truly free times wouldn’t feel half as sweet. Just don’t let the crazy become chronic, drowning you in a constant background noise of busyness.

Being a bit stressed and overworked for one or two weeks of a year-long project of this scale does NOT invalidate your writing!

Be deliberate and conscious about the time you spend. Even if it’s a bit crazy at times. Spend this most precious resource on things you truly care about. Like writing this book.

Know that the crazy is temporary, a worthy short-term sacrifice to create more meaning — and time off — for your future self.

You’re not a fraud!

You’re doing this for a reason!

It’s going to be okay!

This too shall pass!


Journaling is extremely powerful. It’s like exorcising your mental demons. Putting these thoughts and concerns onto the pages of my notebook got them out of my head and I finally managed to sleep well afterwards.

And after a solid eight hours of sleep and a good workout in the morning, suddenly the world looked completely different again.

I did practice my own advice of time off. And it worked! I’m not a fraud!

As writers, we can often feel a lot of pressure to live up to the advice we give people, as well as the image we create of ourselves in our writing. It’s important to accept that sometimes things do go sideways, and we can’t follow our own advice.

But that doesn’t mean our writing is any less valid, or that we are being deceitful. Life is not always that straightforward. Just accept the temporary craziness, and then get back to practice what you preach.

AI Researcher, Writer, Digital Creative. Passionate about helping you build your rest ethic. Author of the international bestseller Time Off. www.maxfrenzel.com