The Stressed Writer

You know the feeling: you’ve got deadline sneaking up on you, a billion things to get done, none of them done (or it sure doesn’t feel that way), or, and usually, anything you do either takes ten times longer than necessary, or you mess it up the first time around…and it still takes ten times longer. And then you’re asked to be creative, get words down on that latest project.

*Cue crazed-writer laughter here.*

How are those words going to go? If you’re like me – and many other writers I know – not well. Yes, I’m certain there are people who thrive on those last-minute, to-the-wall deadlines. I am not one of them. I can handle stress, but I don’t like it. My mind is going a million directions, but curiously, none of those directions seems to be remotely pointed at my latest WIP. 

Clearly, this is a problem. What to do about it? Since this, ahem, *might* be an issue I’m dealing with right now, let’s look at some potential solutions as well, shall we? 

  1. Can you reduce your stress-load? Are you carrying some stress that’s unnecessary? Worrying about the what-ifs and would-haves that really, you can’t do anything about anyway? Drop ’em. Are you stressing more about what you’re not accomplishing? That’s *probably* not helping. 😉 
  2. Have some fun. Oh, don’t worry, I hear your shouts and screams – “I have a million things to do, I’m already behind, I don’t have time for the luxury of fun!” And here’s where I say: sounds like you need to have some fun! As adults, often we underestimate the value and importance of fun, but when it comes to our creativity, it’s not just an option – it’s a necessity. We need to take care of that inner child who’s also often pretty important when it comes to our creativity. So have some fun. By all means, don’t take too much time, but make sure you have some. 
  3. Drop some of the expectations. There are expectations all around us – and the hardest of them are often those we have for ourselves. You’re not too old, not too slow, not too anything. Maybe you haven’t accomplished everything you wanted to in the amount of time you wanted to. Maybe your to-do list keeps getting longer, while the to-do list looks pretty short and sad in comparison. That’s okay. Celebrate those successes, and then do what you can, do your best, and just keep moving forward. All the rest is not helping you, so let it go. 
  4. Rid yourself of the guilt. Didn’t get the words written you were supposed to this weekend? Behind on your schedule? Word count looking low? Okay. So either accept it and move forward, or just leave it alone. Letting it stress you out is likely to only push you further behind schedule. So let it go. 
  5. Leave room for the story. All of this other noise? That’s what can drown out the story. So listen to your characters. Take them out to play, maybe in a scene or short-story that might never see the light of day. The point is to start hearing the seductive whisper of your story again. Then let that whisper drown out everything else. 
  6. Sit down, write, do your best – and revise in the morning. You can’t edit the blank page. So put some words down. Who knows – some of them might be better than you think. 
So, those are my ideas to move forward tomorrow. Yes, I’m stressed about my book coming out in less than 50 days (who knew installing that count-down clock would be such a terrible idea?? Note: perhaps add “don’t give your source-of-stress a visible count-down clock.”) But, I also have a scene in the next book that’s been waiting a while now: a wedding night scene where all I know is what does NOT happen. 😉 
 
I love to hear from you. So tell me, what techniques and tips do you have to write through your stress? Or reduce your stress so you can write? Or, are you one of those people who’s stress doesn’t affect their writing? Share in the comments. 🙂 
 
Thanks for reading, and wishing you a terrific week ahead. And remember: there’s always magic in the world if you look hard enough. 🙂