Friday, August 7, 2020

Cope with Writing Stress Using These 12 Tips


by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

This current life lock-down where we find ourselves can trigger some stress for everyone. I've particularly noticed it in my writing friends. There are other things beyond the world situation that can bring out stress as well and can affect how we move forward. The reasons for the stress are as varied as the writers who suffer. This type of anxiety can be brought on by a series of difficult deadlines, an extended length of time with no forward momentum, exhaustion from a marketing push, or even a series of negative experiences.

The cause isn’t as important as recognizing the symptoms and dealing with them.

Tips to Cope with Writing Stress

1. Take your fears and feelings to God. Begin with prayer, but take it a step further. Journal your prayers and what you feel God is saying to you. When we begin with a connection to the Father, the other things we do to cope are more productive.

2. Stay connected to the present. This is also a kind of non-judgmental mindfulness. Look honestly at your situation and evaluate what's bugging you. Examine and emphasize the differences between truth and lies. Don’t beat yourself up for your feelings, instead study them and acknowledge what you’ve learned and apply that. 

3. Start a journal. Give yourself the gift of a place to pour out your feelings. I’ve found that especially for writers, writing down the confusing emotions we’re dealing with brings order. Give yourself permission to be messy. Don’t try to write only once a day in an orderly fashion. Instead write when you feel like it. It may be several times a day or only a few times a week. The important thing is that you have a place to pour out what you’re dealing with. 

4. Surround yourself with good smells. Yep, aromatherapy can actually help. Use essential oils, candles, and even soothing lotions. Our mood is affected by the odors around us. Be deliberate about enhancing that part of your environment. I’ve begun lighting a certain candle when I write. Now I’ve got a kind of Pavlov’s Dog situation. When I catch a whiff of that candle, I’m almost instantly in the mood to write.

5. Avoid caffeine, tobacco and alcohol. Yes, we’re writers and we are caffeine-fueled word machines…sometimes. Now is not that time. Instead find a beautiful glass, fill it with sparkling ice cubes, a slice of fruit and fresh water. Hydrate your water-starved body. Need something warm? Choose an herbal tea.

6. Walk away regularly. You may find yourself on a deadline again, but the time you spend on a short walk or another healthy exercise will make you MORE productive. If you’re a knitter, spend an hour with yarn and needles. Pull out your Bible journal or bullet journal and let creativity reign. Whatever renews your spirit is what you need to build into your routine.

7. Find a support group. You are not the only one who has ever experienced this. You are not weak or stupid or defective. Listening to those lies isolates us from the community we desperately need right now. In addition to leaning into God, find His people, open up, and let them support you. When you’re feeling better, you can return the favor. 

8. Don’t neglect physical activity. Go for a walk, take a hike, but most of all—work up a sweat. You need those endorphins right now. By getting back into a regular exercise routine you’ll also bring order from chaos. 

9. Weed out the unnecessary. Now isn’t the time to add to your work load. Instead look for things you can drop from your regular routine. Cut back on social media, subscribe to a meal service and let that hall closet rest without cleaning it out. 

10. Unplug from your electronics. Yes part of being a writer in 2020 is having an active online presence. But this does NOT mean 24-7. Resolve to check your phone only a few times a day. Otherwise, leave it in the other room. Consider even writing old school. Walk away from your computer, pick up a pen and record your ideas on actual paper. 

11. Refuse to give in to shame. We have all been where you are. But when we all hide it shame creeps in. Instead be the brave one who admits life can be overwhelmingly stressful. You’ll find freedom in that and release others from their bondage in the process. 

12. Prioritize daily and weekly. Every evening I use my bullet journal to make a list for the next day. By recording my to-dos then, I free up my first-thing-in-the-morning for time with God. I also keep a running list for the week so I don’t forget anything vital. I’m developing the habit of NOT looking at my phone or email until after I’ve had some precious time with God. Knowing I already have a list, frees me from the stress of feeling like I’m already behind when I climb into my work-mode. 

The biggest thing to remember is that we’re not alone. Being a writer can lead to an incredible life, but it can also bring extreme times of difficulty. With these tips you can begin to recover from the stressful times and help others in the process. 

Now it’s your turn. What would you add to my list of ways to cope? Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comment section below. 

Don’t forget to join the conversation!
Blessings,
Edie

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Edie Melson is a woman of faith with ink-stained fingers observing life through the lens of her camera. No matter whether she’s talking to writers, entrepreneurs, or readers, her first advice is always “Find your voice, live your story.” As an author, blogger, and speaker she’s encouraged and challenged audiences across the country and around the world. Her numerous books reflect her passion to help others develop the strength of their God-given gifts and apply them to their lives.Connect with her on her website, through Facebook, Twitter and on Instagram

14 comments:

  1. Thank you for this list, Edie. Number 12 is one I need to focus on. I think it will help me accomplish all the others! ;)

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    1. Martha, I'm glad you found something to help! Blessings, E

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  2. I love these wonderful suggestions! I especially love taking a break and going for a walk. Another thing that really energizes me is taking an afternoon nap. Even a 20 minute nap can give me enough energy to last the rest of the day.

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    1. Crystal, a nap is a great addition! Thanks for sharing, Blessings, E

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  3. These are such helpful tips. I love No. 10. I have yellow lined tablets and pens in different places around the house - so handy when I think of something to write. No. 12 I just started using a couple weeks ago. It's so helpful in the morning to check and have a direction for the day ... not stumbling around not knowing where to start. All the other tips are so useful, Edie. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Diane, no matter how digitally dependent I become, I still love paper best! Blessings, E

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  4. Great list, Edie, thanks. I echo the vote for #12–I’ve found myself doing more social media in the evenings since the virus and I’ve gotten away from planning the next day’s list until morning. Starts my day with more ‘clutter’ and eats into my quiet time. Thanks for the gentle nudge! BTW, a question—do you devote a whole page per day in your bullet journal?

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    1. Wendy, great suggestion about doing more social media in the evenings! I normally use a 2-page spread for a week at a time in my bullet journal, but I only do a week at a time, so if I have a heavy day and need more space, there are blank pages for me to use. Blessings, E

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  5. Thank you for these great reminders. :-) Have a blessed weekend!

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    1. Melissa, thank you for dropping by! Blessings, E

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  6. I find that music helps soothe nerves and stress. Just being able to take time to listen to favorite music, and tap my toes helps a lot. It gives nervous tension an outlet. I enjoy listening to instrumental music, particularly piano.

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  7. I especially appreciated your emphasizing the need for exercise and unplugging from our devises sometimes. Thank you!

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