Stress is harmful for writers; more so than it is for other people, so let’s look at some ways to get writing stress relief.
Here’s why your stress affects you more than it does people in other occupations. If a bricklayer or a lawyer’s stressed, the bricklayer can still lay bricks, and the lawyer can still write pleadings. Stress chokes creativity, so a writer finds writing more difficult when he’s stressed. Indeed he may not be able to write at all.
Here are some ways to manage stress.
1. Do More. You’ll Experience Less Stress.
Although this seems counter-intuitive if you’re already stressed, you can eliminate a lot of anxiety by doing more. You’ll see this process in action on my writing journal. I have so much going on during the writing day that I don’t have time to be stressed.
If you’re concerned about crappy book reviews, and worrying about your current book – start another book. Back in the days when the bulk of my income came from magazine articles, I had so many queries doing the rounds that a rejection made zero impression. It just meant I had to get a revised copy of the query out to the next magazine on my list.
I’ve often told the story of a magazine editor who called me to offer me an article. She also apologized for rejecting a query. I couldn’t remember the query at all, but when I checked; she was right, I’d sent it to her. The rejection she believed had tortured my delicate writer’s soul wasn’t even a blip on my radar. If you’re writing, writing and writing some more, all you care about is your writing. You sit and you do it; you don’t have time to be stressed.
2. Set Goals, and PLAN.
With my students, I often find that they’re setting goals without planning how they’ll achieve those goals. “I want to make $10,000 a month” isn’t a goal. It’s just a statement. Work backwards. Look at what your income is now for various kinds of writing. Then work out how many clients you’ll need, and how many projects you’ll need to complete, to make $10,000 a month.
When you do this, you may find that there’s no way you can make $10,000 a month by doing what you’re doing now. You’ll need to make changes – get clients who’ll pay more, and take on higher-paying projects.
Planning assures you that you’re moving towards your goals, and you’ll experience less stress.
3. Get a Writing Buddy.
Writers understand writers. Friends and family may not understand you and your writing, and that’s fine. Unfortunately, if you need validation, you’ll often try to get it from your nearest and dearest. It leads to aggravation all around. You resent them for not providing support, they resent you for your temperamental behavior.
Get a writing buddy. Look for someone who’s writing what you’re writing, and is experiencing the same challenges that you are.
Over the years, I’ve belonged to several local writing groups, and the camaraderie was invaluable.
4. Schedule Everything – Write When It’s Time to Write.
I believe in time off, however, I tend to write every day. That’ s not a contradiction. I write every day because writing’s a habit. It’s what I do. If you read my writing journal, you’ll see that when something comes up, the first thing I do is rearrange my schedule.
My best tip: schedule everything. That immediately lowers your stress level. I used to tell my kids “if it’s not written down, it’s not happening.” So, write it down.
I use a combination of tools to manage my schedule. Evernote’s my general Inbox. I dump everything in, and sort it out at the end of the day. If you’re having problems with planning, scan my journal entries. You may pick up some scheduling tips.
5. Journal – It Will Improve Your Mental and Physical Health.
Journaling lowers stress levels, and improves your health.
Obviously, the writing journal I publish online is expurgated. You don’t get client and project notes, because that material’s confidential. I don’t include any items from my personal journal either. I use my personal journal to work things out; write down (night) dreams; character motivations; and much more.
Here’s an article on the health benefits of journaling:
When you’ve got a problem and you’re stressed, keeping a journal can help you identify what’s causing that stress or anxiety. Then, once you’ve identified your stressors, you can work on a plan to resolve the problems and, in turn, reduce stress.
You’ll find that simply writing stuff down relaxes you and lessens stress. If you’re worried about your son, who’d being bullied at school, journaling about it – even if you don’t make a plan – will help you to calm down.
Dump your worries and stresses into your journal, and you’ll free your creativity so you can write.
So there we have it: five ways to manage stress. Each one will give you some relief. Recent studies show that stress can be good, or bad. Good stress keeps you energized and motivated. Do all you can to eliminate bad stress from your life. Your writing will thank you. 🙂