How to be a Stress-Free Writer

Writing can be stressful. Not because of the plot holes, the flat characters, or the fact that you’ve written four drafts and the story still seems like an infant barley able to crawl when you though by now it would be a full-fledged adult able to go out into the world and make you a rich and famous author. (I’m not bitter at all :P)

As many problems that we can run into within our story, most of the stress we feel when it comes to writing isn’t from the story itself but from the pressure we put on ourselves.

Here are some ways to take some of that pressure off, so you can be a happier, more productive writer.

 

Decide that your writing matters.

Sometimes it seems that your writing doesn’t matter unless you are a sucsessful author, or even a published author. But every published author was once like you and me: burned out, frustrated, and delusional. (Ok, just kidding…mostly 😉 )

Not one of those successful authors we envy simply snapped their fingers and instantly found themselves on a pile of bestsellers. They had to decide that their writing mattered long before hundreds of fans did.

enthusiastic waving Ariel  fan

You’ll take a load of stress off your shoulders if you stop worrying that you will ever be published or  wondering if you are a real writer even if the only one who has seen your writing is your dog. Telling yourself that your writing doesn’t matter because you aren’t published yet is like a gymnast saying that she isn’t a real gymnast until she’s won the Olympics. You have to believe in your own writing before anyone else will. And maybe that does make us delusional. 😀

 

Let go of your timeline.

All writers have a timeline, and I’m not talking about the one you have to keep track of events for your story. It’s the one in our heads that tell us at what age we’ll publish our first book or how many books we’ll write in X amount of years. Perhaps this is based on our own overachieving Hermione Granger that we have living inside us, or it could be based on authors we want to emulate.

hermione granger

This little timeline we have is actually undermining our productivity and causing us to feel anxious about our writing journey. Instead of simply focusing on our story when we sit down to write, we are bombarded with subconscious thoughts like, “At this rate, I’ll never get published by the time I’m thirty,” or “How has it taken me this long to finish 5 chapters?! I should be done with the whole book by now.”

These thoughts lead you to feel discouraged because you somehow feel like you aren’t “measuring up” to whatever standard you’re holding yourself to, which leads you to make an association between writing and discouragement, which makes it VERY difficult to write. Because who likes feeling discouraged?

eeyore

We need to realize that we can’t control the creative process. Creativity is messy. Sure, I thought I’d be done with the book I’m writing after draft three, but here I am writing draft four.

We also can’t control when an agent will want to represent us or when a publisher will snag our book.

Instead of focusing on WHEN something is supposed to happen, focus on showing up everyday to write or send queries to agents. And don’t forget to take a moment to appreciate how much work you have done toward your goals.

 

Realize that the journey is as important as the outcome.

I fell in love with writing. Not because I thought it would bring me fame and a big paycheck, but because I love the process. Painting pictures with words, building adventures, and creating characters, worlds, magic all makes me feel alive in a way that few other activities do.

peter pan flying journey adventure

But I am just as guilty of wanting to rush certain aspects of story writing because I just want the thing to be finished. I want to get an agent. I want to hold beautifully bound pages wrapped in an amazing cover so I can be assured that all my work was worth it.

The next time you find yourself wishing for a finished product, remember that it’s the journey that teaches us to be a better writer. Behind every published writer is numerous books that they wrote that got turned down or piles of drafts of the book that did get published.

I’ll leave you with my wise words for the day: If it weren’t for the journey, you wouldn’t have the outcome.

 

 

 

11 thoughts on “How to be a Stress-Free Writer”

  1. Great tips, Megan! So, are you now completely stress-free? Just kidding — me neither. Letting go of the timeline stress is a great idea but sooooo hard to do. This fall I’m going back to the same writers’ conference I first attended in Sept 2016, then Feb 2017, then two more times — so this will be the fifth time I’m seeing the same people, two years later. And do I have my book done, the one I was talking about that first time? Not even close. Do I have any short stories published in major magazines yet? Nope. So I’m not looking forward to the inevitable questions about my progress in those areas — my friends don’t mean to stress me out, they’re only intending to show interest, which is nice! I feel like I should really be farther along by now. But hey, everyone at their own pace, right? Also, I have to remind myself that I’m comparing my writing progress to that of folks who are mostly retired, or creative writing students, or otherwise not working full time. That works fine, as long as I don’t look in the other direction, at the people with jobs who are also taking care of kids and somehow are still writing more than me! Eep!

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    1. I’m working on being stress free. 😀 I have my days where I’m being hard on myself about what I should have accomplished by now, but I’ve gotten better at letting things go and taking a moment to appreciate what I have done.
      I guess in some ways I’m lucky to not have any writer friends in person (though that would be nice) because it keeps me from looking at how far along I am in comparison to others. I would be the exact some way if I was attending a conference like that. I’d feel a lot of pressure to have accomplished more.
      And yes, that’s a good point that everyone has a different amount of time that they can commit to writing.
      I don’t know how those people with jobs and kids do it either! I would be stressed if I were them. lol

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      1. Having writing friends online is just as bad in that regard, maybe worse — many of mine get so much published! Still, the benefits of having writer friends, both online and in person, far outweigh the bad parts. And probably that little sense of competition is good for my work drive anyway. 😉

        Good luck in your quest to reduce stress!

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      2. True, there are good and bad things about having fellow writers as friends, whether in person or online.
        Sometimes a bit of competition is good. 🙂
        Thanks!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I’ll be honest, that’s half the appeal of NaNo and Camp NaNo — knowing that my “score” is right up there next to everyone else’s is a real motivation for me. 😉

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      4. It is! That’s why I get so much writing done during that month. Though I am pretty goal oriented. Even if no one else has that goal, if I say I’m going to do it, I will.

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