Ten ways to deal with writing stress

Writing and stress don’t mix very well. Not for me, anyway.

Sure, small amounts of stress (like having to meet a deadline or get a higher grade) can motivate you to produce—but if my stress gets out of control (which it tends to do more often than I’d like) then it can be one of the most destructive things to my creative process.

It infests my mind, entrenching itself in the background of everything I do, potentially corrupting every word I write. It prevents me from organizing my thoughts, releasing chemicals that amp up anxiety, and in my case, causing severe and extremely distracting headaches—making writing even more difficult than usual.

That’s why it’s so important to keep control of your stress: letting it control you will kill your drive to write even quicker than having no direction.

Luckily though there are ways to fight back against stress and relax.

If the stress of modern life is hurting your writing…

Try some of these ten practical things that you can do to relieve writing stress.


 writing stressPhoto courtesy of: flicker



1. Breathe.

This is probably the simplest technique for relieving writing stress, because you can do it while you’re in the middle of a project, without even having to leave the workspace. Simply close your eyes and breathe deeply. Taking heavy breaths of air into your lungs, and slowly letting them out. Do this until you are completely relaxed, and then return to your writing.


2. Lose yourself in music.

Grab a pair of headphones, layback on the couch or the bed (or my favorite, the hammock), relax, and flood your mind with your favorite music.

The trick here is to focus all of your mental energy on the music; if you’re completely focused on something other than writing, you can forget about the stress and reset your mind.


3. Stop being a writer.

Shut off the computer, put away the note pad, turn off that familiar writing voice in your head. It’s okay to take a break. Walk away from your writing both mentally and physically. It will be there when you come back, and you’ll be refreshed and de-stressified


4. Talk to a friend.

This is fairly self-explanatory; but talking to someone, especially if that person understands the stress that your feeling, has been the single most effective way that I have found to relieve stress.


5. Go for a run or do a workout.

physical work is great stress relief because it gives you an outlet for all of that frustration and moodiness that builds up when you’re stressed. So basically it’s a way to vent—but a very good way to vent. Because, when you’re done with your workout, your mind will release endorphins into your body that not only take the stress away, but also make you happier so your less likely to get stressed out again.


6. Write some poetry.

If you’re stressed and you don’t quite understand why you’re stressed, sometimes all you need to do to relieve that stress is to figure out where it’s coming from—and poetry is really good at doing just that.


7.  Allow yourself some quiet time every day.

A steaming cup of tea by my side, at least three different books on the stand next to my chair, window open so I can breathe in the invigorating morning air—this is my favorite time of the morning.

This is a time for me to get inspired by the books I read. This is a time to be calmed by the quiet of the morning, and the warmth of the tea.

At first this may sound counterproductive to you, but I assure you it isn’t. I think that everyone should have a time like this in the morning, because this is the time that I use to get myself in the proper mindset to take on the rest of the day.

I don’t know how I could function without the combination of reading the books that inspire (inspiration helps a bit with the whole writing thing), drinking tea that relaxes me (I write best when I’m relaxed), and breathing the morning air that invigorates my mind.

I, personally, would be less productive if I didn’t allow myself this time to take it slow and relax. — an excerpt from a post about how to make every morning a success. I would recommend reading the whole thing. It’s pretty good.


8.  Write in a journal.

There’s something about writing the old fashioned way, with pen and paper, that is innately relaxing. It has something to do with having to slow down and actually think about the word that you’re going to write next. Writing in a journal should be a daily habit. If not for stress relief than for the other benefits: I have yet to find a better way to get myself centered, back on track, and ready to go, every morning.


9. Read your old work.

Whether your goal is to laugh, see how far you’ve come, regain your original inspiration, or you’re simply curious if your old stories are even entertaining—reading these relics from yesterday will take your mind off of the stress of today.


10. Work on something else.

It’s hard enough to get yourself writing without having to work on a project that is stressing you out. If your current project is what’s stressing you—then drop it (for now). Do something else. Do something fun. Don’t go back to that project until you feel ready to complete it.