Writing Though Stress: Tips to Keep Writing When Life Gets Tough
There isn’t a single profession that’s immune to stress. None that I can think of at least. From the outside, the life of a professional writer might seem rather idyllic. A lot of us work from home on flexible schedules of our own choosing. A lot of us get to spend hours doing creative and rather fun stuff. A lot of us don’t have bosses to answer to.
But being a professional writer brings with it a whole load of stresses. Flexible work hours doesn’t mean no deadlines, and a lot of us are juggling deadlines with family life and all of the distractions that working from home can bring. There’s writer’s block. There’s creative anxiety. There’s isolation, there’s the physical demands of the job. There’s mental exhaustion and creative burnout. There’s pressure from clients or editors or publishers, and all of that self-pressure that we put on ourselves.
And that’s just professional stresses being a writer can bring. We’re also swamped with the usual life pressures that stress most people out – money, family, house stuff, you name it.
When I’m stressed out, my work really suffers. I lack the energy and motivation to even start writing and when I do start a writing session, I can’t focus. I get tired really easily. Sometimes I feel really physically unwell and just feel like the world is on top of me and I’ll never be able to claw my way back out and breathe properly again. But I always do find my way back on top, the stress subsides and I get on with life and work until something else sparks a stress cycle.
Dealing with stress is a personal experience. We all have our own methods and ways to escape.
Even though my work is suffering through these stressful times, I still work. I get up and I put words down and I move forward. If I stopped writing when stress hits, I’d likely just have one more thing to stress about.
Tips To Keep Writing Through Stress
Accept It’s a Low Time
Remember that life comes in ebbs and flows. Sometimes we’ll have high energy high productivity periods, sometimes we won’t. The high point will return on the other side of this slump.
Take Smaller Sessions
Keep writing, keep moving forward. Just ten minutes a day if that’s all you can manage.
Have an Indulgence
Not as a reward for writing, but as a reward for just being. Treat yourself for being yourself.
Make Time for Physical Exercise
For me, exercise isn’t just about maintaining a healthy body. It’s a physical and mental release, a time that has nothing to do with anything or anyone else except me and my body.
Take Time Out for Mindfulness
I’m not talking about a meditation session, but doing something just for the sake of doing it and enjoying the moment. The best mindfulness practice I know of is playing with my daughter. Kids are an awesome reminder of how to live in the moment, from moment to moment. Upset in one second, blissfully cheerful and giggling the next.
Look At Past Success
Look at how far you’ve come as a writer, think about all of the things you’ve achieved and learned and remember that more good things are coming if you keep working.
Practice Creative Scheduling
There’s no point trying to force yourself to work if life just won’t let it happen. This is where I practice the art of creative scheduling, a way of making progress in my writing my normal writing schedules are derailed.
By keeping on writing, even just a quick session a day, I know I’ll still have the momentum to pick up and get going once the stress lifts and the high energy periods return again. Because they will return, they always do.
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