Monday, March 1, 2010

3 Ways to Ease Writer-Related Stress

This post is inspired by the psychologist in me, but hey, that is my day job. I've learned that I greatly enjoy the wild ride that is writing...from the thrill of the first draft to slogging through the trenches of revision hell. Long periods with nothing but the soft glow of the computer monitor for company punctuated by helpful, supportive feedback from awesome critique members.

In the last two days, I've gotten two requests for partials from agents after entering several contests. While I have yet to start the query process, I believe in celebrating baby steps -- which is why I freely admit to spending several minutes dancing around my kitchen like a monkey on crack. Realizing the requests only mean that my query is decent, not necessarily my book, I've spent the last day obsessing over my partial before sending it (thank you wonderful Sisters for your help!) I'm feeling stressed and I haven't even begun to experience the additional stresses of submitting to publishers, editorial revisions, book publicity, etc. Writing involves a lot of fun but a great deal of stress as well. So...

Here are 3 ways to deal with the stresses involved in being a writer. NOTE: I didn't include chocolate and wine, but I'm not saying those don't work too!

1) Rest. I'm not just saying this because sleeping is one of my all time, favorite activities. Everything seems better after a good night's sleep. I'd say shoot for 8 hours a night but those of you with young kids know you have a better chance of winning the lotto. Sneak naps if you can.

2. Play. Do something fun. See a great movie, hike, go to dinner with friends, take the kids and/or dogs to the park. Remember: All work and no play made Jack one f*#@'d up boy.

3. Read. More specifically, read something outside of your normal genre. If you live and breathe urban fantasy YA, read adult literary fiction. In my book club, we take turns picking the book we read each month and it's forced me to read things I wouldn't have picked up otherwise. I've enjoyed some amazing books this way and it gets me thinking outside my typical zone.

Simple, right? What's interesting is my kids do these 3 things every day and they are amazingly happy, stress-free kids. It's when we get older that we tend to lose touch with our inner kid. No matter how stressed I get, five minutes of dancing with the kiddos gets me centered again.

Except when I dance like a monkey on crack which prompted my 5-yo son to ask yesterday, "Daddy, what's wrong with Mommy?" So how do you relieve stress? What would you add to this list?


  1. Hey, saw your post on LiLa' site.

    Congrats on your contest wins!!!

    These are fanstastic tips--Rest, read, and play. I'm writing them in my schedule book, ASAP, LOL! :)

  2. Thanks! I actually do sometimes schedule time for play -- that way I know it'll be a priority!

  3. Congrats again, Kristi! I agree these things are important.

    Lately I have been over-stressed and I think a lot of that has to do with little to no playtime. As a stay-at-home mom of a child not yet school age, who has basically given up nap time for life, I get about ten quiet minutes a day. My husband comes home 45 minutes before the kids' bedtime so my evenings are often rushed--getting dinner on the table for us, kids bathed and put in bed. It can be overwhelming and put a huge dent in my creativity.

    I find even something as simple as sitting outside on the deck and letting the kids play in the yard while I take pictures of the squirrels is helpful, lol!

  4. Lacey - I can totally relate. My almost 3-yo gave up napping the day she turned 2! It was a bit of a shock as my 5-yo napped until the day he started Kindergarten. Anyway, I know how hard it is and it's great that you're carving out time when you can -- plus, I love it when you post your squirrel pics on Facebook. They're so cute!

  5. I don't have kids, so I don't know that side of it, but I've definitely been over-stressed the last month. I agree with you, I think play time is so important! I need to make some time for that soon.

  6. Great advice. I've struggled with establishing balance. I can't write if I don't exercise. I won't be inspired to exercise if I don't sleep well. It takes a lot of focus every day to make sure I do what I need to in order to keep the balance, but it's worth it!

    And I won't write by reading blogs all day either but those help in their own way :)

    Congrats on getting asked for partials! An exciting milestone certainly worth celebrating!

  7. I want to exercise. I don't see how some of you find the time. Once my little on starts pre-k next year, I'm hoping to get back in to running. I haven't done it since my six-year-old was a baby!

  8. Sarah and Lacey - I struggle with the exercise part too. I don't think I'd run even if someone was chasing me but I do love yoga which helps greatly with my stress levels too. Also, I count walking as exercise so I do a ton of that with walking my son to school and back each day. Gotta fit it in where you can. :)

  9. Valerie - your month was super stressful. I hope you find some play time this month!

  10. I'm showing up late to the party, but I'll throw my two cents in anyway! Great post, and congrats on the requests. I've just sent another round of queries out myself... to we'll see how that goes.

    I don't have pink kids, I have furry ones, some of which weigh a thousand pounds. They keep life busy as well as stressful. For stress relief I go with dancing like a fool in my kitchen, an occasional scotch, and laughing, usually at myself, often in relation to something I did while I was dancing like a fool (like the time the U.P.S. caught me in my underwear, and then I tripped over the dog and fell down).

    And sometimes I just go out and climb on my horse while he's grazing, without a saddle or bridle, and usually without shoes. I just sit there on him while he munches and I remember what it's like to be a kid, when a horse can take you to other planets just by letting you climb aboard.

  11. That seriously made me laugh out loud, Grey.

    I had horses when I was growing up. All my life, until I became an adult. I remember doing just what you said: hopping on his back in the field with no gear and just sitting or letting him take me wherever he wanted to go. Many afternoons I slept on the back of a horse. I miss those days and I can't wait until I can have them again.


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