Monday, November 13, 2023

How to Handle Those Pesky Stressors Every Writer Battles

by Larry J. Leech II @LarryJLeechII

Studies have revealed that the five most prevalent stressors are:
  • Divorce
  • Moving
  • Job loss
  • Death of a loved one
  • Major illness


I don’t see finishing that last chapter by midnight on Dec. 31. Or completing rewrites to make a deadline. Or even finishing a few pages in time to leave for a child’s sporting event, or to fix dinner, or … or … or … just about anything that you promised would get done, maybe before your spouse got home. 

What is wrong with the people who put together that list? 

I don’t get it. If you listen carefully, you’ll hear me muttering “weird” again while I shake my head and purse my lips.

Writing related stress should be on that list, right? 

If you’re like me, you have put creative-crippling pressure on yourself to complete a writing or editing assignment. Oh, it’s been so bad at times that I’ve wondered if I could go without sleep for a week. Or frantically pounded away on the keyboard and ignored my body until only a mad dash to the bathroom would save me.

Yes, that kind of stress should be part of the list. But it’s not.

For the list above, experts suggest the following to relieve stress:
  • Exercise
  • Relax your muscles
  • Deep breathing
  • Eat well (I guess chips and popcorn for dinner aren’t an option anymore.)
  • Slow down
  • Take a break
  • Make time for hobbies
  • Talk about your problems (Great suggestion if you have an accountability partner or group.)
  • Go easy on yourself
  • Eliminate your triggers

Okay, doesn’t seem like a bad list for normal stress. But writing stress is a little different. Unlike the fab five stressors, some writing stress comes from procrastinating, striving for perfection, and feeling unworthy.

So, here’s a short list of de-stressors for writers:

1. Be realistic when setting goals and deadlines. Take into careful consideration how long you need to write, rewrite, or edit. You know your ability better than anyone. When you determine how much time you need, consider adding 10 percent more time to give you a cushion.

2. Be okay with your pace. For instance, if you need two hours to write 500 words, accept that’s what you need to write that many words. 

3. Write to the best of your ability with the knowledge you have at that time. 

4. And last, but not least, have confidence in your ability, whether you’re working on book one or book twenty or book fifty. Doubts inevitably will set in at some point, but don’t let them paralyze you. Keep plugging away. Call a friend. Go for a walk. Just do something to break those invasive thoughts. 

5. Oh, I’ve discovered one more way to deal with writer stress—a nap.

And now that the stress of finishing this blog has taken its toll on me, I think I’ll take one right now. 


Editor-in-Chief at Bold Vision Books and writing coach of award-winning authors, Larry J. Leech II has spent more than forty years writing and editing. He started his career as a sportswriter in southwestern Pennsylvania where he covered prep, college, and pro sports, including the Pittsburgh Pirates and Steelers. 

In 2004, after 2,300 published articles, Larry moved into the book publishing industry. Since that time, he has ghostwritten 30 books, edited more than 400 manuscripts, and coached hundreds of authors through the writing and publication process. You can find him online on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.


  1. Great tips. Even self-imposed deadlines can be stressful.

  2. Thanks, Kay. Yes, self-imposed deadlines can be stressful. Larry