As an adolescent, whenever I began to feel overwhelmed, I’d take off for my secret hideaway – the Cow Pasture. I’d pour my heart out filling page after page in my journals about life’s injustices. You know all the kind adolescents experience – mean teachers, homework, bratty younger siblings, a mother who shelled out discipline like an Army Sargent to new recruits, and of course, the heartache of first loves.
God, what I wouldn’t give to trade the stresses of today for those of long ago. The stresses now are more serious and personal and at times difficult to shrug off or get past. Sometimes they stop me in my tracks. My writing takes a dive. My muse packs her bag and gets out-of-town. Call me when you get your s&#% together, she says. A blank screen stares back at me until I give up and put my WIP aside. It’s time for a break, a breather, or plain old escape.
Now, I’m not a Pollyanna, type person. I’m well aware of the ups and downs of life and for the most part, have always worked through the tough times. The truth is for those of us getting older, facing health issues, among other things, it takes a bit longer to regroup. I understand time is not my friend. We can’t avoid all things life throws our way, but as a writer, if I didn’t want to leave projects unfinished, I needed to develop a methodology for handling the kind of stress that takes me away from writing or worse robs me of the desire to write. I know I’m not alone in this struggle. Over the last month, I’ve given this lots of thought. Here’s a few of my suggestions.
10 Methods for Coping with Life Stresses
- Give yourself permission to take a break. It is okay to put your computer away for a time.
- Set a time limit on the break. Take a day, weekend, or vacation, but a timeframe will help get you back in the game when you’re ready.
- Enjoy the time like a kid at the end of the school year.
- During your break do something you enjoy – as in movies, family, friends, or nothing at all – chill out and focus on the moment.
- Give yourself permission to say “No,” and say it like you mean it. This time is your break, so do what you need to rejuvenate your mind and spirit.
- Don’t try to play catch-up when the break comes to an end; it’s a time waster. So, don’t fall into that trap; the world won’t end if you let a few things go.
- Reevaluate your writing goals and write them down.
- Work on one project at a time.
- Acknowledge you can’t be all things to all people – be what you need for you.
- And, last but certainly not least, limit your access to the time-sucking internet.
Meg Dowell in her post, Why Writing is Hard, at Ryan Lanz -The Writer’ Path, said it best:
“You have to be able to recognize when you’ve pushed yourself too far, back down, and then jump back into writing… That’s discipline. That’s resilience.” Meg Dowell Tweet This
How do you cope? I’d love to hear your comments. Talk to me. Tell me your story and look for me on Facebook at SheilaMGood, Pinterest, Bloglovin, Twitter@sheilamgood, Contently, and Instagram. You can follow my reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.