7 Simple Ways to Ease Your Writing Stress

After I finished reading over my first draft, I felt overwhelmed. My novel was still so far away from where I wanted it to be.

I began to formulate a complex plan of attack, but the sheer volume of the things that needed to be fixed in my first draft were almost crippling. It was just way too much for me to handle.

I couldn’t stand it anymore. The pressure and stress were getting to me, so, I did what I normally do in that type of situation: I went to the park to meditate.

Now at the park, I tried to force my mind to think up an answer to all the complicated problems I was facing. As I continued to search for this answer, I was interrupted by an old couple.

This old couple had been walking hand in hand throughout the park, so close together it looked as if they were high school sweethearts and not retirees. They were dressed in bright colors, and the woman was carrying a bright pink parasol to shade the both of them from the sun.

As this couple came closer to me, they stopped for a moment, and looked me right in the eye. At once, both their eyes, tucked behind thick spectacles, lit up. They smiled. Then, together, as if they were one entity, they said:

“HI!”

Their energy was so loving and so sincere, that I couldn’t help it–I broke away from inner turmoil. My face lit up, and I said “Hi” in return.

Then, the couple walked away and gave another bright and sunny: “Hi!” to a passing stranger.

As soon as the couple left, I felt at peace. I felt calm. All my writing stress had left me.

What just happened? I thought.

My mind started once again to search for the complicated answer to the complicated question. But the truth was, there was no complicated answer.

The answer was simple.

All this old couple did to help me snap out of my stressful moment was to say “Hi,” and that little, simple gesture not only relieved my stress–but it made my day.

Not only that, but this encounter made me realize that the answer to my writing problem was a lot more straightforward than I thought.

Question: Where should I begin revising my novel?

Answer: At the place I felt I should start.

This little revelation made me think of all the problems I had ever faced in my life. I remembered so much stress would often come from thinking that a complicated question HAD to have a complicated answer. But often, it was the most direct, easy way of approaching a problem that helped me find the perfect solution.

7 Simple Ways to Ease Your Writing Stress

1. AHHH!!! WHERE SHOULD I START REVISING MY NOVEL?

Start where you feel like you should start.

2. AHHH!!! HOW DO I WRITE WHEN I CAN’T WRITE AT MY “PEAK CREATIVE TIME”?

First, write when you have the time. Once you establish a consistent routine, your mind will adjust. It will know that this is the time when it has to be creative. Trust me. It works.

3. AHHH!!! HOW DO I WRITE IF I HAVE A DAY JOB THAT SUCKS ALL MY ENERGY, AND I’M TOO EXHAUSTED TO WRITE?

Don’t write during your work week then. Write on your day off, or, write on the weekends. Or if you feel that you can’t work with your current writing schedule, try making your writing schedule work for you.

4. AHHH!!! HOW DO I WRITE IF I NEVER HAVE A DAY OFF AND I’M BUSY–OR EXHAUSTED–ON THE WEEKENDS?

Don’t write at all then. Just listen. Think of it this way: you are still being creative–you are gathering material for the future when you do have the time to write your novel.

5. AHHH!!! HOW DO I WRITE MY NOVEL IF I HAVE A BLOG TO KEEP UP?

Reduce your word count for each blog post to 500 words. (Shorter posts are actually recommended by Probloggers.) Post once a week. Write a group of posts ahead of time, and then schedule them to come out when you want them to. Have a guest blogger over each week to increase your posting to two times a week, and, in the process, increase your readership.

6. AHHH!!! I DON’T HAVE TIME TO DO ANY OF THAT! CAN’T I JUST RANT ABOUT HOW I’M STRESSED OUT AND I DON’T HAVE THE TIME TO DO ANYTHING?

Sure. But try this next time instead: don’t write that post. Use that same stress and energy to write a scene for you novel. Make your job, your boss, or whatever is stressing you out, the antagonist of the story, and then allow the protagonist {who represents you} to find a way to beat that antagonist. More often than not, this process helps you find a solution to your problem–and it also makes for a great scene in your novel!

7. AHHH!!! YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND: MY SITUATION IS SO COMPLICATED AND NONE OF THIS IS WORKING! DON’T YOU KNOW? GAS PRICES ARE RISING! THEY’RE MAKING HUGE BUDGET CUTS! THAT LYBIAN DICTATOR LOOKS LIKE MY TÍO LEO! AND WORST OF ALL, THEY’RE CANCELING “TWO AND A HALF MEN”! WHERE ELSE AM I GONNA GET MY “90’s THROWBACK” SITCOM FIX?

The answer is still simple: look at someone in the eye today, smile and give them a sincere “Hi!”

With this simple gesture, you have just fundamentally changed the world and made it a better place.

much “Hi!”

Ollin

Today, tell a stranger how grateful you are for the simple things they do on a day-to-day basis that help make this world a better place.

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35 comments on “7 Simple Ways to Ease Your Writing Stress

  1. I relate to your posts, Ollin. Thrashing my way through a first draft myself, and I never seem to get too far before I start revising earlier sections that don’t seem to get any better. I’m thinking I should just let that stuff go, and forge ahead. I see the path my characters are on, and I want to get them moving, but I’m troubled by the sometimes poor quality of writing in which I’ve mired them.

    Here’s a simple “HI” to you, and thanks for making me think!

    John

  2. Thank you Ollin for this insight, simple, and if you just do it, easy. Also, thank you for your blog. You are the reason I finally just did it and began my journey of writing. Just a simple blog but as you say begin where where you feel you should begin.

    • Ollin says:

      That was so sweet of you to say queen {hehe its sounds funny to call you that.}

      Thank you for letting me know, it reminds me how important the work I do on this blog is. People tend to forget that just starting to write is the hardest thing to do, if you haven’t done it before. What people struggling to write need is encouragement–and we shouldn’t underestimate the power of that. Good luck to you!

  3. Jacqui says:

    Parents are going to relate to this post, Olin. Any parent knows that you don’t try to keep the house quiet so the infant can sleep. You let him/her get used to normal sounds of a life lived normally and learn to sleep through it. That’s what your post said to me. Live your life. Writing will work out. Not to worry.

    I agree.

  4. Ah, love it. Great advice and love how you made it quirky and fun.

  5. Here is another idea…if you don’t have the time to write due to job…on your break, write something or you can dictate into a MP3 player your thoughts for a story or a character. Later, you can transcribe what you have!

  6. Liana says:

    Awwwww this is so cute. great post

  7. T.S. Bazelli says:

    LOL I’ve used all those excuses!!! Except for number 7🙂

  8. Sarah Giles says:

    ‘HI!’ Ollin!

    Such a helpful post – which I can apply straight away.Thank you.🙂

  9. The last one with Tio Leo resembling Kadaffi amused🙂

    I would add one more: “Be patient, your novel will be written and finished when it’s meant to be. Rushing into it, stressing yourself out to the point you have red eyes from staring at the screen for 12 hours, won’t help.”

    Trust me, I know, I did this for 2 weeks, 2 weeks of 12 hour days editing like I had someone pointing a gun at my head. It still didn’t get me the novel I wanted, but I had to learn the hard way.

    By the way, how is your novel doing?

    • Ollin says:

      Thank you for adding that Alannah! It is very true. You just can’t rush it.

      My novel: I’m revising the first draft, looking to work on some plot fixes first. I’m taking broad strokes this time around. Looking at the story as a whole. At the end of this year is when I am hoping to start to gather feedback. But, we’ll see.

  10. […] After I finished reading over my first draft, I felt overwhelmed. My novel was still so far away from where I wanted it to be. I began to formulate a complex plan of attack, but the sheer volume of the things that needed to be fixed in my first draft were almost crippling. It was just way too much for me to handle. I couldn't stand it anymore. The pressure and stress were getting to me, so, I did what I normally do in that type of situation: I we … Read More […]

  11. Pam Parker says:

    Thanks for this – just reposted it on my blog. Really good ideas – especially re blog posts (for me). Many thanks!

  12. Ahlam says:

    Hi! Ollin, I’m new to this blog and I can’t help notice the genuine sincerity throughout your posts. This is the tone I feel throughout this blog and it puts me at ease. You’re right, sometimes I feel like being “called” to write is so much of a blessing disguised as a curse. I think the most important point is figuring out a routine (!!!!!!!!!!!!). I’m soo struggling with this one. ….in due time… 🙂

    • Ollin says:

      I’m so glad. That is my intention. There’s so much negativity out in the internet that seeks to waste your time, put you down, or make you anxious. They really try to manipulate you with fear and insecurity.

      But my goal was to make this site a place of warmth, support, courage, mutual understanding, peace, etc. You should check out the posts on my sidebar, they should help you establish that routine. Good luck to you!

  13. This is the second post of yours I’ve read and I must say again:

    The information may not be new to me but…

    The way you write is wonderfully fascinating 🙂

  14. jannatwrites says:

    Number 7 was great. How did you know I’ve been in turmoil over “Two And A Half Men”? I mean, I just don’t know what to do now!

    Okay, not really. I was just having a little fun…great stress relief, by the way🙂

  15. Joanna says:

    “Hi” – deep breath – big smile. Yep, I feel better already🙂

  16. clarbojahn says:

    I’m using Julia Camerons book “Walking this World” and using her suggestion to write three morning pages to throw away to open your creativity. I’m doing it colaboration with Journaling Saves. It is a great tool! I may not throw those pages out but they are making me more creative. I wonder if this would help you? If not much HI !.🙂

    • Ollin says:

      Haha. I can tell your newer to the {C2C}. I mention Julia Cameron so much in my older posts, but I stopped because I figured my readers were getting sick of it.

      But thank you for the rec. Others who are reading this should definitely read Cameron’s book, I recommend books that help people with writing and spirituality in my post “Floating Above The Water”

      My issue was not about creativity, it was more of the stress of having to deal with so much at once. Your first draft can be so overwhelming when you take it in all at once!

  17. Hi!

    All the “how’s” apply to me. This is what I do, but they’re excuses, right?

    I vowed to write two hours a day, and since then have not written — unless you count blogging writing, and I think you do. But good advice. My blogs run long on Marinagraphy. Well over 1000 words.

    Anyway, glad I subscribed to your blog. Keeps me in touch with what I need to do. I am also reading a book I wrote a few years back to my writers group, and I feel overwhelmed with the changes I need to make. I have all the notes, but have not even tried revising the thing.

    Good post! See, even my responses are long.

    • Ollin says:

      Haha, no worries. You can comment as long as you want!

      Love your wordpress name by the way: drowning squirrels.

      Yes, I guess I was trying to capture the overwhelming stress you are faced with when you encounter your entire first draft all at once. But, not to worry, I learned to take things a step at a time.

  18. […] 7 Simple Ways to Ease Your Writing Stress by Ollin Morales […]

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