Finding Serenity for Writers

Monday, August 31, 2015
by Joe Kopp
I have had a rather stressful year for a lot of reasons. And as I've stated on The Muffin a couple times, I've had a hard time writing through it. I don't know if I'm alone or if the rest of you have ever felt this way? Have you ever had a period of your life where you were writing things--like blog posts or journal entries or articles--but not your creative work? This is what has been happening to me.

So I decided to check out this book: 

Seeking Serenity: The 10 New Rules For Health and Happiness in the Age of Anxiety by Amanda Enayati.

It is a terrific book for everyone who feels stressed out about anything. It offers science and research on the effects of stress as well as self-help advice and even better, practical lifestyle changes. Although the subtitle claims there are 10 “new” rules, the truth is readers will be reminded of age-old advice to become all around healthier and happier in their daily lives.

Amanda begins by explaining how she is a stress columnist, which means she writes essays and articles on stress and the quest for well-being and life balance for CNN Health and other outlets. She is also a cancer survivor, a former “Big Firm” lawyer, and a witness to the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers. She knows stress, but she never thought to write about it until she got an assignment for a new column. From that assignment, this book was born.

The book is organized into two parts: Part One: “The True Story of Stress” and Part Two: “Stress as a Guide”. Part one is interesting and the shorter section of the book, where Amanda outlines what doctors, scientists, researchers and writers currently know about stress—the myths and the facts. From how we perceive stress to how it actually affects our bodies, the information is delivered with facts, figures and powerful stories.

The meat of the book is part two where the 10 rules are introduced. These range from “be resilient” to “be creative” (which is very important to me as a children's author!) to “be kind.” Each rule presents personal stories Amanda found to share with readers, some research to support what she is stating, and finally practice for the reader. The practice section in each of these rules is the most important piece of this book.

Rule 9 is “Be Uncluttered” and begins with a quote from Albert Einsten: “Out of clutter, find simplicity.” When she says, “Uncluttered,” she means physically—our living space. She writes, “Our . . .rule here involves becoming more conscious of how our physical space can impact our emotional space. Specifically, how clutter can affect stress levels.” This is so true for me, and really does affect my energy and how I feel about spending time in a certain space, trying to write.

The practice section for this chapter, which could be overwhelming and cause stress and less writing time, is simple and easy to follow: “Declutter slowly.” She suggests selecting the room you or your family spend the most time in and spend 15 minutes a day over a week’s time removing clutter from this room.

The end of Seeking Serenity offers an appendix full of strategies to use today when you start feeling “stressed out.” These range from moderating the amount of TV and programs you watch to using deep breathing, getting exercise, and laughing.

In Appendix 2, a list of resources (videos, books, articles, websites) is provided for further study on all the topics addressed in the book.

Besides writing about seeking serenity, Amanda is the stress and technology correspondent for PBS MediaShift. She lives in Los Angeles and San Francisco with her husband and two children. You can find out more about her on her website,

Seeking Serenity is one of those books that I will refer to time and again. I am hoping it can change my life in a positive way if I follow the guidelines in these pages. Before I know it, I hope to be back in front of that work-in-progress or maybe even a new project! Who knows where serenity could bring me?

How do you find serenity and get creative? 

Margo L. Dill teaches classes in the WOW! classroom and is the author of three children's books. Find out more at .

Emerald Lake photo by Joe Kopp. See more beautiful photography at .


Cathy C. Hall said...

I think my creativity sort of ebbs and flows, Margo, but oddly enough, I tend to write more when I have deadlines and am stressed to "get 'er done."

Too much time and I'm getting my fill of serenity, piddling the days away...until of course, I realize I have a deadline, and then it's WHOA, NELLY, time to get to work! :-)

Sioux Roslawski said...

Margo--I'm sorry to hear that you've had a tough year.

Perhaps that means that the next year will be smooth sailing?

Sioux Roslawski said...
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