What's YOUR Writing Stress?

Thursday, March 08, 2012
Next to funtime with my kids and playing the piano, writing brings me the greatest joy. But I found when I had initially made the move from writing for just myself to writing as a job, there were a few initial...stresses...I hadn't realized before. Fortunately, I had loving mentors and fantastic peers willing to share their advice and tricks of the trade. I learned to work through it all and relax a bit into my budding new career.

I'm not saying that it's all easy-breezy now that I have a few years of experience under my belt. The same stresses are out there, ready to take over. I just make sure they don't get the chance to get too far under my skin because once that happens, my writing is affected. And that makes me grouchy.

So, my question today is: What is YOUR writing stress? Here are five of the things that came up when I posed this question to a few of my writing friends who are just starting out:

1) Deadlines. Here's my tiny piece of advice about deadlines: make sure you can meet them. Period. If you're asked to do an assignment and not sure if you can get it done in time, don't take it on. Nothing will stop your career before it has the chance to get started faster than missing a deadline. But don't lose sleep about them either. Divide the work that needs to be done up over the amount of days you have to do it and you'll make it.

2) Writing outside the comfort zone. I always stuck to the same topics because I wasn't secure enough to branch out. A few times, I was asked to write articles on subjects I had no clue about and took them for the experience. I stressed whether I could actually do it. But you know what? They were great learning experiences, I learned about something I didn't know much about before and they led to other assignments! Don't stress about writing on something new. Take it on like a challenge and draw inspiration from that.

3) Research. Okay, I'm a weirdo that actually loves doing research but there are a few people I know who dread it. They don't know where to look or it takes too much time or they just get overwhelmed. I find the best way to cope with this is to tap into your resource for guidance on where to look. Accuracy is one of the main priorities we have as writers so don't be afraid of it. Whether it's searching online, in the library or interviewing people choose the research option that will not only give you the information you need for your work but that you're comfortable using.

4) Contracts. You aren't alone if you worry or stress over these. I have written many articles and several books and still scrutinize over them when I'm given one. After a few, you'll start to understand what are good ones and bad ones and what you need to have in it to ensure your best interests are being met. If you're ever unsure, never ever sign one blindly or be talked into signing one. Ask your writing mentor or friends in a writing group to look it over for you. Or join a group like Mary Rosenblum's Long Ridge Writer's Group Chat Forum where experienced writers and newbies alike join together to ask questions and find answers. After awhile contracts will be no sweat and you'll have the insight to know what to look for.

5) Writer's block. Okay, this is my personal one. Let's face it. I'm sure even Stephen King or Jodi Picoult have days where their muse doesn't feel like coming out. That's what I tell myself, anyway. I have to admit that when I sit down for my writing time and nothing comes out, it drives me crazy. I stress, then the block seems to get stronger then I stress more...you get the idea. What I do is have several WIP's on the go I can turn to. That way, if I can't get my muse to jump in on one project, I know she'll wake up for another. Usually, once I get going on something the block will bust down. The point is, it happens to the best of us and stressing out over it only makes it worse. Do whatever works for you to clear your mind so you can get going again.

6) Rejection. We've talked about this many times on here but this is just a part of the whole writing process. It's disappointing, it can hurt but you have to just keep moving forward. The story you pitched to one place that an editor rejected may be just the right piece for another. Don't give up or allow the stress of rejection to run your writing.

My final two cents is to remember that writing is a job the same as any other office job. And a job, no matter how much we may love it, comes with a bit of stress. As long as you're aware of it, have effective coping tools and a strong support system, you'll get through it.

[Please share your own writing stresses and how you cope with it. You may be helping a fellow writer in need!]



Laura W. said...

Deadlines. That's mine. I tend to underestimate the work involved and leave things too late, and then I'm staring a deadline in the face and working overtime to make it.

Chynna said...

Hi Laura. You aren't alone there. I find it works out best when you do bits and pieces each day. Then you don't have as much to do all at once and you aren't panicking to get it ALL done, you know?

For me, I stress about deadlines when I have several due around the same time! AHHH!!! LOL! It's all about doing what you can when you can and making sure not to take on more than you can handle at a time. I tend to do that alot. I get it all done...I just tend to take on so much that I'm pulling my hair out. =)

Audrey said...

My biggest stress is an internal/mental one. I have the hardest time just getting started. If I let myself, I begin to believe that I will never be able to start a new paper...idea...story! I am working on this...wish me luck and perseverance...
I need both.

Shawn Lamb said...

Honestly, writing doesn't give my stress. Marketing, gives me stress! I enjoy getting lost in my writing to escape from the pressures of marketing and promotion.

Chynna said...

Luck vibes coming your way, Audrey. I'm sure once you get started and really into your story, you'll be rolling in no time. ;)

Shawn... I am SOOOO with you! I'm at the point where the writing isn't a stressor for me quite as much anymore (unless my muse isn't cooperating. LOL!) but the marketing/promo can be VERY stressful. Thanks for bringing that up. I'll be giving some tips on that very soon!) ;D

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