Writers definitely get stressed out. Have you seen a writer in the throes of writer’s block? Staring down the barrel of the bottom end of a deadline, and pulling out that word count from planet, “Holy crap, I’ve got nothing let to say?” Or how about when the writer gets the form letter rejection–via email nowadays so that soul crushing is just a click away–thanks Internets! Oh yeah, and I won’t even get started on the, “How can I stay true to my muse, even if she is a misery chick, and feed me and my cat?”
Definitely stressful business.
So, how do you manage it? Here’s some ideas. Some of them are to eliminate stressors even before they happen.
1. Take some breaks: I know the deadline is looming, but you have to move away from the keyboard, or your writing pad. When you’ve hit that brick wall, and you feel like you can’t write another word, walk away from it. Go back to it later.
2. Get organized: It’s easier to work on different deadlines, if you have it all laid out. I’m old school, so I still use a paper/pen planner for my work assignments. It’s a throwback from junior high. The act of writing down the deadlines helps to remind me of them, but do whatever works for you.
3. Don’t measure yourself success by someone else’s: Don’t decide you suck, and you’re not worthy because your friend/competition/Twitter buddy is producing more material than you are. Make sure everything you send out is as good as you can make it and go from there.
4. Toughen up, buttercup: Rejections suck so hard. Your work is a little piece of you that you’re sharing to the world on a silver platter. When you’re told that platter is filled with a big, stinking pile of poo, it hurts. I know it’s hard to shake it off, but you have to. If that rejection letter isn’t a form letter, what kind of advice did the person give you? Look at your piece objectively, how can you improve it? And then implement it, and submit elsewhere. Don’t give up!
5. Get the giggles: Laughter is a natural stress reliever. Do you have some news feeds, web sites, or a friend, who makes you lol? Is there a local comedy club or comedy night? Take the time the laugh at yourself and the world around you. It makes a difference.
6. Be positive: I’m worthless. I suck. I’m not a terrible writer. This kind of negative self talk only serves to make you more stressed out, and decreases your productivity. Not to mention how it lowers your self-esteem. Eliminate it from your life. You don’t need it. It only increases the stress.
7. Say No to Procrastination: You have a huge deadline looming. This one feels like it could be the one to really make or break your career. Instead of completing it, you decide to clean out your car, watch daytime TV, spend hours on Pinterest and catch-up on naps. Now, you have even less time to work on it, even more stress and you’re on the verge of flipping out. Avoiding the work, only makes it harder for you in the end. (I still grapple with this one)
8. Be realistic: Don’t take on more than you can handle, and learn how to say no. It’s good to challenge yourself, but you don’t want to burn yourself out.
9. Be still: Go to the beach, the river, lay on your rooftop watching clouds pass by. Do something that only involves silence and nature. It’s good to get away from the keyboard and be outside. Of course not if that deadline is happening tomorrow. (See No. 7)
10. Just breathe: It’s so simple that it sounds trite, but it works. When you’re stressed, you’re taking shallower breaths, increasing the anxiety in your body. Take deep, cleansing breaths and pause for a moment. Meditate if that’s your thing. Taking those couple of minutes to slow down and let the oxygen circulate through your body will help you to calm down and get back to business.
Do you have ways you deal with stress that I didn’t list? Let me know in the comments section!