Saturday, January 7, 2012

Writing Under Stress

Many factors contribute to stress – lost income from a "real" job, diseases that wipe out your savings, natural disasters, a bad credit report, and an assortment of other stress-causing circumstances. 

As the saying goes, "When it rains, it pours," and when you become drenched in debt and/or worry, you have to challenge yourself to overcome the obstacles before you. If you are also raising children, your stress is compounded, and the decisions you make now will affect you and them for years to come.

Whatever stressors have contributed to your current situation, writing while under stress adds only more stress, especially when you have deadlines to meet. While you attempt to work through your day, surprises (and not the good kind) sometimes occur behind the scenes. For instance, creditors have been known to turn clients into collections with absolutely no warning whatsoever (happened to me) and the minimum payments they require are so high you almost have to get three jobs just to break even.

With no transportation because you lost your car, and with no electricity, gas, or water, because everything has been turned off, your stress level skyrockets. You are now even more ill than you were before the initial stressors occurred. 

Don't allow stress to devour you whole, though. Figure out how you can release it. For writers, writing can be a powerful tool in releasing stress.

Writing is actually one of the better forms of release when it comes to alleviating stress, because writers can use this art form to release pent-up anger, frustration, and hostility. Or, we can slam a humorous spin on our disadvantages and attack them in a blog.

Of course the optimum way to avoid stress is to work proactively to prevent it. Alleviating all stress is impossible, but one way to help yourself deal with stress is to ask yourself if you can afford your current lifestyle. If you can't, consider downsizing. 

You need money to stay afloat, but ask yourself, can creditors trust you enough to lend you money for a smaller home or a less expensive automobile? Request a copy of your credit report and get a free credit score so you will know where you stand financially.

As writers, we keep track of our ideas and our plans, but we also need to keep track of our income and our expenses. If one of your clients pays late, will your mortgage payment suffer? When will you get paid? Getting paid on time is an ongoing problem for many writers. You'll have to learn how to factor that in when budgeting.

If writing seems to be a lonely occupation for you, gather troops of supporters around you. They may not be able to support you financially but they can offer you hope and possibly instill in you a little faith in yourself when none seems to exist anywhere else.

As a writer, creative or otherwise, you have at your disposal your mind, your emotions, and your words. Break your projects into little bits. Learn how to divide your days into easily digestible bites. I know, it sounds like a computer program, but as writers, we need to be as efficient as computer programs. We have to know our strengths and our limitations, though, too, and not take on more than we can handle. And we need to set achievable goals for ourselves, so that when we meet that deadline, we can congratulate ourselves on a job well done.

As in any profession, we need to take breaks throughout the day and stretch our legs, our back, and our minds. Though this next step doesn't work for those of us incapable of napping (like me), taking a nap may replenish the spirit and refresh the soul. Exercising and meditating helps too.

Alleviating stress is difficult, especially when deadlines – self imposed or demanded by others – loom before you, but rewarding yourself with enjoyable tasks will help to lessen your stress level, and it will give you something to look forward to. We cannot always be prepared for everything that happens to us, but we can learn how to alleviate our stress and alter our circumstances.

"Circumstances – what are circumstances? I make circumstances." – Napoleon Bonaparte

No comments:

Post a Comment



Add to Technorati Favorites