Thursday, June 16, 2016

10 Signs That Writing Stress Is Getting to Me

By Lisa Alber

Writing novels is a job like any other. There are deadlines, and to make those deadlines we often have to work when we're feeling cruddy or low or uninspired or crabby. And in the midst of hustling to make a major deadline called Hand Off Manuscript to Editor (and pray she likes it!), there are all kinds of other writerly tasks that come into play.

I'm on a yearly deadline. This means that while I'm writing the novel for next year (2017), I'm also gearing up for the release of this year's novel, Whispers in the Mist.

August is my month. Whispers arrives at bookstores near you AND I hand off the next book to my editor. Whew! That's a lot. I have a huge list of things to do in the next few months. In other words, just like with any other job, we may get totally stressed out and overwhelmed. I can tell I've reached that point because:

1. The only thing that sounds good for dinner is pasta.

2. I go outside for some fresh air, and suddenly it's an hour later and I've dug up three bushes.

3. I don't see the pet hair on the rug, or the dust on the nightstands, or the spiders taking up residence in random places. House cleaning--what's that?

4. I forget appointments, like the crown-placement dentist appointment I almost missed this morning. In fact, I've forgotten so many dentist appointments that last year she instituted a missed appointment penalty fee. Yes, I can take credit for that.

5. My social life goes down the tubes--and I already have a, shall we say, "curtailed" social life as it is. I'm more likely to be watching a movie on Friday night with the dog and the cat snoozing nearby than socializing.

6. My idea of a good time is going to bed early.

7. I don't care about ice cream -- I mean, it's okay, whatever -- but I find myself buying a pint of the local Alpenrose brand strawberry cheesecake ice cream that I promise myself I won't eat all at once because that would be gross.

8. The nice folks at my local bistro know me by name because I come in so often to drink red wine write. Budget, be damned.

9. I get up in the morning already yearning for an afternoon nap.

10. Last but not least, the novel I'm writing? Yeah, it's the worst dreck in the world, everyone will hate it, and why am I doing this to myself?

Stress is like anything else--it comes, it goes, and then when it goes we forget about it like it never happened. Or, we look back on it and think, Wow, I was totally nuts; so glad to be back to normal now.

The habit that works in a pinch to ease stress? Breathing. Really. Unclenching your core and feeling your lungs move in and out as you breath.

How does stress and busy-ness and feeling overwhelmed affect you? Do you have a go-to food or habit?

Lisa Alber is the author of the County Clare mysteries. Her debut novel, Kilmoon, has been called "utterly poetic" and "a stirring debut." Her second in the County Clare mysteries, WHISPERS IN THE MIST will be available in August 2016 from Midnight Ink Books. Ever distractible, you may find her staring out windows, fooling around online, or drinking red wine with her friends. Ireland, books, animals, photography, and blogging round out her distractions. Facebook | Twitter


Brenda Buchanan said...

Lisa, I don't know how I bumped into this today but am I glad I did. The same is true for me on all counts, from craving pasta for dinner to thinking about a nap as soon as I climb out of bed in the morning. Clear indicia of stress.

And you are right that this too, shall pass. Thank you - this was precisely what I needed to read!

Lisa Alber said...

Hi Brenda, I'm so sorry I didn't see this comment -- glad it resonated with you!