September 7, 2011

Insecure writers: writing and stress

here i am, willing myself to write a brilliant "First Post" for the first day of the Insecure Writers blog hop and i can think of nothing brilliant to say. everything i've come up with is drivel. just like my fiction of late. so i'm just going to let it be what it is and hope it's encouraging drivel.

i haven't been able to write much of anything for the last few months. not that i haven't tried. i have a sequel to my first fantasy novel in the works. i want to finish so i can share it with people who've been waiting for it for months, and some of them for 4 years. i've made countless attempts at working on it. and they've mostly come to nothing.

and i know exactly why.

for the past year, we've been getting our house ready to sell so we can move to  Montana. yeah, i think there might be some stress there. and i've discovered that stress makes the creative side of my brain go into a nosedive.

of course, it didn't help that on top of the move, i gave myself a deadline. i wanted to get the sequel out before we moved so i could have a release party with my friends here. plus i didn't want to let down my waiting readers.

it's kind of crazy when i think about it now. one of the main reasons i self-publish is that i don't like deadlines. they're just another form of stress. but i did it to myself anyway and that, added to the stress of getting the house ready and thinking about the move and all it would entail sent me into a "crash and burn" nosedive.

i don't like crashing and burning.

thankfully i pulled out of the nosedive before i crashed. to do that i had to let some things go. i let go of my self-imposed deadline. my friends will just have to wait. and i let go of writing anything for the sequel. *i* would just have to wait.

it wasn't easy. letting go of writing felt like i was losing part of myself. not working on the sequel felt like failure. but i couldn't keep going down the path of crashing. for the good of my health and my sanity and my family's sanity, i made the decision to concentrate only on the move.

you should have heard the sigh of relief from my family. happy mom = happy family.

letting go is what i've had to do with this post. i gave up the notion that i would say something brilliant and tried to focus on something encouraging. but here i am at the end and i still want to wrap it up with something brilliant.

instead, i will stop editing this to death and say -

when stress comes at you, give yourself permission to stop writing and just let life be what it is.

of course, if you're under a contract or you're trying to meet a deadline, this might not work. maybe one of the other posts from the insecure writers group will help. hop on over to Alex's blog for the list of participants.


Karen Walker said...

I beg to differ - I think you did say something brilliant here. You took a look at what was going on with you and your life, you made some changes to choices you had made, and you feel better. That is brilliant!!!
Nice to "meet" you.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I so relate to this post... and YES, YES, YES, stress does affect the writing. What I've found is that some things in life require my brain to be all present and then some... so I hone in, keep my mind engage, to put that one foot in front of the other to stay in the battle this life reveals. And that's all I've got.. During those intense times of pushing forward my writing slacks off... the brain has used up all it's energy... I SO get your post.

Thanks for stopping by my blog and your words left, they encourage me!!!

Blessings on your day...

Hart Johnson said...

Stress is about the only thing that gives me true blockage, too. I have a fairly complex ritual to get to writing... I write mostly long-hand, in the tub, with a glass of wine... and I do a SUDOKU first to turn off my day--it keeps my brain going while acting like white noise for whatever i've been dealing with.

The writing still can go slower if stuff is stressful, but i can keep at it.

Good luck with all the stuff you're dealing with!

Wendy Tyler Ryan said...

Life has a way of interrupting all of our good intentions. Sometimes you just have to let it all go. Good luck with your move and may you find a way to turn the inner turmoil into great writing.

Nicki Elson said...

Yes, a deadline--self-imposed or no, would be a killer. You knew where you were needed most and you went there. The story will wait and it will be better for waiting until you're ready to tell it. Congrats on the decision. ;)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Michelle, sounds like a wise decision. The woman sets the mood of the house, and if she's not happy, nobody is happy! (Trust me.)

julie fedderson said...

Stress is a difficult foe, and saps creative energy. You're right to find the way to let it go before it bogs you down.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I write better under deadline stress. But any outside family stress stops any creative thoughts on my part.

M.J. Fifield said...

You offer some wonderful advice here. I've been beating myself up for a while now because I haven't exactly been the most productive writer of late but I'm trying to just let it go and let what happens happen.

Good luck with the move!

Denise Covey said...

Hi Michelle. Stress can be a creativity buster at the time but afterwards you can use all that experience to plaster all over your novel. Nothing's wasted I say.


Mel Chesley said...

You have written something brilliant in this post. Stress can be so overwhelming you don't want to do anything at all. I had to stop writing at one point when I was working, but the personal stress had begun to build while I was working and I just couldn't juggle a blog, work, family, writing and anything else that decided to pop up. I can only do so much and expect so much of myself. Sadly, when things get to be too much, it is usually my writing that suffers because it isn't high on my priority list. It can't be helped.
Great post! And very nice to meet you. :D

Tara Tyler said...

must take care of necessities in life
then you can write about them, or go back to writing feeling fresh and confident!
we all need to take a break to relieve some stress =)

Julie said...

Despite what you might think... your post is quite brilliant!

I found myself feeling similar stress when I started a new job recently. [Stress!!! Pulling out hair!!] I was--in short--trying to put WAY too much on my plate. At the same time, I felt like if I slacked off I was a TOTAL FAILURE!! Like I should be able to handle EVERYTHING, right? Cause I'm super woman. Right?


When I FINALLY gave myself permission to take a writing break one week... it... felt... SO.... good. Then when I came back, my imaginary writing friends (aka: characters) were much more talkative, seeings how my mind wasn't as bogged down with "Work-laundry-dishes-hubby-writing-editing-sleeping-friends-hobbies-football-cleaning-eating" etc. You get the idea. Giving myself time to catch up on my "to do" list did wonders for my writing sanity!!

P.s. Your crash-and-burn-nosediving kept me snickering through the whole post! So funny! And you should know... you have a new stalker ( : Haha!