The Benefit of (Short-term) Overload

Anne H. Putnam
4 min readMar 13, 2021
My 2021 planner, with appropriate customization (image from my Instagram)

This time last year, I was lonely, bored, and generally unfulfilled — I hated my job in finance, surrounded by conservative ’80s types and felt myself slipping away from my writing. So I did what I usually do when I’m feeling underwhelmed: I overwhelmed myself.

Look, this isn’t a habit I would recommend to anyone else, ever. Except that I’m about to recommend it in a limited form right now. Because one of the ways I overwhelmed myself was to sign up or apply for everything writing-related, from Meredith Talusan’s Fairest workshops to fiction-writing classes to various freelance writing gigs found on any of a number of Facebook Binders groups… It got pretty wild, pretty fast, thanks to the pandemic opening up the entire world to virtual access. And the benefit of being intellectually exhausted and making my husband a ‘Zoom widower’ was that I learned a ton.

Over the second half of 2020 and the first couple months of 2021, I learned how (and how not) to: come up with interesting story angles on my fairly average life; pitch editors; write thought-leadership articles; follow up on pitches; research reported essays; come up with new names for brands and processes; foster a community of support and encouragement among other writers; negotiate pay rates on commissioned pitches; and about a hundred other new skills I can’t remember to name at the moment.

I was also inspired by all these people whose expertise and advice I was consuming. I knew some stuff, especially now that I’d stuffed all this education into my stretched brain — why wasn’t I contributing more? So I joined the Fairest Writer community as an admin; I started a critique group with writers from #1000wordsofsummer; I founded a creative nonfiction-focused Facebook group; and, the pièce de résistance, I decided to launch a literary magazine.

The magazine, Moments Between, launched this past Sunday with a beautiful essay about identity and family expectations by Mike Talplacido. Editing Mike’s piece was inspiring and exciting and exactly the confirmation I needed that, even though it meant wedging a hefty time commitment onto my already-overfull plate, this was something I needed to do. (Side note: please submit! I’d love to publish more wonderful writers!)

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Anne H. Putnam

Writer, Editor, Person who makes cakes. Love to make things awkward – no such thing as too much vulnerability. EIC: Moments Between