A long, long time ago, writing was all about expressing opinions, thoughts, and emotions. Now, it’s all about getting feedback. Whatever we write, we post it online and we expect people to comment. When writers publish a book, they monitor the online activity of their target audience, so they can measure the results.
It seems like that intuitive desire to write just because of writing is long gone. Moreover, it seems like our focus on getting popular is making us more stressed than ever. We are measuring success by the way other people perceive our work.
When you write for a living, of course the perception of the audience is important. However, you should never forget that writing for the sake of writing is more important than writing for the sake of being liked. The moment that realization settles in, you’ll get rid of the stress related to meeting expectations.
No, we cannot live without stress. In fact, stress is a natural response to dangerous situation. If a lion attacks you in a jungle, stress is the response that will lead you to running away. Stress will save you. However, our stress levels are not getting high only in dangerous situations. We need to learn how to handle stress in a way that it doesn’t mark our daily lives. We need some stress management in our lives.
When you’re writing because it’s your job, writing makes you stressed. You worry about following instructions. You’re stressed about meeting the expectations of clients and publishers. The thought of the way the audience will accept your pieces is constantly present at the back of your mind. Writing causes you stress. How can we turn that around?
Imagine yourself in this situation: you just had a terrible fight with your partner. You both yelled and you said some stuff you didn’t mean. What about the stuff you do mean? Sometimes you’re unable to say something important when you’re in the middle of a stressful situation. Writing can help!
Are you keeping a journal? For professional writers, keeping a journal seems radical. Writing just for yourself? Without getting paid for the content? That’s the trick: writing whatever you want, without waiting to be awarded for it.
Pour out all those emotions through writing. When you put words on paper (or on screen, whatever you prefer), your feelings get clearer. Then, you’ll be able to say the things you mean. That’s how writing can lead you to a more harmonious state of being.
In addition to journaling, here are few more tips on how to transform writing into a stress treatment:
When you’re writing something that’s going to be published, you have to think about making a point and keeping your thoughts within a given structure. When you’re practicing writing as a stress-relieving activity, the form goes away. Don’t try to think in a logical way. Just let your mind free and observe it, similarly to what people do when they meditate. When you’re carried away by the words and you see yourself typing like a maniac, that’s when you can say that writing took you to the meditative zone.
Here are few daily writing prompts for you:
These themes will help you identify the reasons for being stressed out on a daily basis. When you clarify those causes, it will be easier for you to act in a positive direction.
If you write only about the things that make you stressed and unhappy, the daily writing practice would turn into a habit of complaining. We don’t want that to happen. You can turn writing into a stress-relieving habit only if you take things in a positive direction. You can do that if you try to think and write about possible solutions to the causes of stress. Then, you’ll take action towards the solutions. These are the writing prompts to cover:
When you’re nervous or sad, it is hard to think positively. It seems like your mind is drawn towards negativity. That’s why you have to make this effort.
We’re not talking about ego tripping. We’re just saying you should drop that ‘poor me’ attitude. Negative self-talk only makes you feel helpless. Self-affirmations, on the other hand, help you put life and stress into a new perspective.
These mantras can be the beginning of the daily writing activity. Write down few self-affirmations that are suitable for the situation, and continue writing as you get inspired.
When you write for the pure joy of writing, you’re able to express whatever opinions or feelings you have. That type of writing can turn into a stress-relieving activity that you can practice on a daily basis. Follow the tips above; you’ll soon feel the relief.
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by Hugh MacLeod
Ever wonder what it really takes to make a living as a creative person in today's complicated world?
MacLeod presents some witty keys for creative success, including "ignore everybody. Why should you "ignore everybody"?
Because, he writes, nobody else can tell you whether your idea is worthwhile. People can give you advice, but at the end of the day, it's your decision. The more original an idea, the less helpful the advice is going to be.
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