Monday, August 17, 2015

Discussion Post: When you need an "exit strategy" from writing stress, what do you do?

We all love writing. But every now and then, it's a stressful thing, making a book happen, existing as a writer. When we have too much stress built up, what do we do? Read on to find out.


I'm a big believer in self-care. It's taken me a long time to find the things that work for me in general, but now that I have, I value these small, simple rituals. When I'm stressing over a plot point or a looming deadline, here are a few things I do to remember how to breathe.

  • Go for a swim! If it's summer/early fall, it's definitely warm enough here. Even a half hour in the pool usually chases my blues away.
  • Work out. This may sound silly, but for some reason, when I'm on the treadmill or elliptical, it's like my brain goes silent. I turn on whatever playlist I feel like hearing, and I have NO stress at all.
  • Read for pleasure. I'll pick up an old favorite and re-read, or read a book I've been dying to get to. Just sitting and reading is sooo relaxing for me. 
  • Catch up with friends. Anytime I need to refill the well, I call up two of my closest friends and we do dinner. They always leave me feeling SO recharged.


Out of all the Authorteers, I'm the only one who currently works from home and writes full-time. As amazing as it may sound (and amazing as it actually is...most of the time), it can be extremely draining, not to mention lonely. I'm pretty much a hermit and most of my friends live out of town, so it's usually up to me to remember I need to take breaks and do stuff other than writing and my freelance work! My favourite ways to unwind and destress:
  • Read! Reading is probably my favourite thing to do next to writing. I love getting lost in a good book, and no matter how busy I am, I try to make time to read every single day.
  • Watch a favourite TV show or movie. I'm a TV-on-DVD and Netflix addict, and I love to watch an episode (or six) of my fave shows when I need to shut my brain off. 
  • Browse Pinterest. I try not to do this too much since I tend to get lost on Pinterest for hours, even if I only intend to be there a few minutes. I love building book inspiration boards, travel boards, looking at fandom-related stuff, and just browsing pretty things. My friend and I planned most of our trip to the UK and Europe using Pinterest, and I've been back there a few times since I got home, planning my next trip. ;-) 
  • Do something else creative. Some of my favourite creative outlets other than writing are graphic design and photography. If I need to do something creative but need a break from writing, I'll open photoshop and make some teaser graphics or something new for my blog or just play around, or I'll grab my camera and take some pictures.
  • Spend time with my nephews and niece. Playing with them, cuddling with them, hearing their stories and giggles and seeing their imaginations at work (which I totally take credit for!), is like balm for the soul.


I think the most important thing for any author to do is stepping away from your writing. Sometimes you end up hiding away in the writing cave with all these goals and deadlines in your head. It can suffocate you if you don't take breaks. Everyone needs the time to just breathe. When your mind is engulfed in your story, it becomes cluttered and overwhelmed. Taking a break can unclutter your mind so that when you go back to the story you're refreshed and can think more clearly where the story needs to go next.

I've tried to force myself to keep going on certain books and it always ends the same: me, frustrated as can be. So, it's definitely good to get away from your writing world once in awhile, even if it's just for a walk or watching a movie or maybe even catching up on your favorite TV show online. You'll come back refreshed and be thankful you did it.


Do something creative! I have all sorts of arts and crafts projects I've dabbled in over the years from crocheting to painting. After spending some time in that it completely takes my mind away to a tropical island... Well, at least as close to one as I can get. It re-energizes me and allows me to be able to refocus when I do get back to writing. Sometimes all I need is an hour of two away from my book and I'm able to go back renewed. Sometimes, however, it might take a day or maybe longer. If that's the case for you, don't let it discourage you! When you're overwhelmed with a story, pushing yourself to finish isn't the solution if you want to write the best book possible. Writing is something to be enjoyed, not cause stress. We each take our writing at a different pace and need different things to keep pressing on. Find your escape from writing and don't hesitate to take it when you need to. Your writing will flourish if you give your mind needed breaks.

Whether you're a writer or not, what are some of your "exit strategies"? What do you you do to destress, relax, or refill the creative well?

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1 comment:

  1. I get away from my writing and get my mind off it. That can be with TV or knitting (which is super relaxing.)