Thursday, September 5, 2013

Stress or Dessert--Which One Do You Choose?

From the Mad Hatter Tea Room

I loved this poster, for what better remedy for stress can there be than having some dessert? No matter how we'd all like that to be true, we know it's not the best way to treat our stress. Still, I do love desserts!

Writers deal with stress on a regular basis. Deadlines, writers block, lack of motivation, running out of story ideas, rejections, the exceedingly long wait between submission and hearing from an editor--the list goes on and on. 

I think that there are times when we create our own stress, or when we take a seedling of stress and nourish it with our fears until it grows like Jack's beanstalk. That long waiting period after a submission? There's where we can invent more scenarios than fans at a football game. We invent reasons when we haven't heard about our submission. We don't practice one of my keywords in the writing world--patience. If you're an impatient person--and I speak from great experience here--work on acquiring a more patient nature. If you don't, you're going to dish up more stress than you might be able to handle. 

How about those deadlines? Fritter away your time and suddenly the date looms far too close. The next thing you know, you're lying awake nights thinking about it, your mind goes blank when you try to do the project in too little time, your stomach hurts every time you look at the calendar. The easy cure here is to start working on a project soon after you receive an assignment or a call for submissions. Give yourself time to write a first draft, make revisions, then polish before you must send it flying through cyberspace to an editor's desk.

Lack of motivation can bring stress into a writer's life along with running out of story ideas. I've found the best way to address those things is to get away from writing for a short period. Go for a long walk. Go to the mall and window shop. Fix a picnic lunch and visit a scenic area nearby. And when you do those things, use your writer's eye. Before you know it, you'll see something that will spark an idea for an article, essay or story. It's more helpful than sitting in front of a computer screen with a blank Word document and staring at it in hopes that the words will magically appear. 

How about the stress that comes with those rotten rejections? Who creates that stress? We do, of course. Instead of dwelling on the negative side here, start checking for another editor to send your submission to. Don't forget that there are many reasons a piece is rejected. Only one reason is a poorly written story. Others are out of the writer's control. So, ditch the dessert and the stress and move on.

How do you handle the stress in your writing life? You don't have any? Sure you do. We all do. Take a step back and assess you and stress. Ask yourself if you create some of it yourself. Next question to put to yourself is What do I do when stress moves into my writing life? If you answer honestly, you may gain some insight in how to handle it with or without eating that extra dessert. 

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