Last night was the last SHU online chat that I’ll have to do in order to receive my MA in Writing Popular Fiction. There were four topics offered and I chose the one about writing while dealing with stress in your personal life. It was a really good chat and a lot of people came up with good ways to deal with stress.
I think stress can be positive or negative. I definitely don’t believe that stress itself is neutral. A lot of people have more issues when the people close to them or the people they work with are dealing with stress. This tends to cause more stress on the individual. It amuses me that so many people in our society let things that don’t really matter in the long run stress them out in the short term.
One of the big keys for dealing with stress is to only actually worry about the things that directly affect you. Instead of letting your boss at work’s crappy attitude affect you, think about how you’re reacting to it. Is it really important enough for you to waste your time on? Here’s an example. Say you have an office job, it doesn’t really matter where or what kind. Your immediate supervisor is dealing with a messy divorce and often tends to take out bad days on you and the rest of your coworkers. With your supervisor being so unstable, everyone is walking on eggshells and it’s making everyone uncomfortable. This adds more stress to your life because you worry about losing your job and that causes all sorts of other stress, but most of it can be traced back to that one supervisor at work who isn’t dealing with their own stress well. What can you do?
Well, you can’t fix the divorce. That’s happening outside of work. But you can show some understanding. Divorces are hard for most people, so all you really can do is continue doing your job to the best of your ability and possibly work ahead if you can. If you can accomplish tasks without being told and never let your own emotional state affect your position at work, you won’t be nearly as obvious of a target for your boss to take out their frustrations on. Think about what you say before you say it and work on controlling your own actions, reactions, and emotions. It’s not anywhere near a good solution, but it is a place to start.
One of the ways I deal with stress is to take the stress I’m feeling and pawn it off on my characters. It really puts things into perspective when I see how much worse things could be. See, I’m not one of those nice writers who love their characters. I write horror. So I take the stress that I have in my own personal life and I make it a lot worse for my characters. I force them to deal with situations 100 times more intense than the stress I’m dealing with. Plus, it’s always easier to see the solution to problems when you’re observing it from the outside. It helps me deal with the stress caused by my life, which really is a bit different from the things I see most people deal with.
But there are some issues of stress that I can’t just pawn off on my characters. The upcoming deadline for my final thesis project is due 27 September and I’m feeling terribly unprepared. My second reader is someone who knows the horror genre inside and out and I’m slightly worried that my writing is just as amateur as I feel. I’m also painfully behind on the revision process and things are not going well in that aspect. Work and life keeps interfering in my writing. I’m hoping to be able to take three or four days straight to just write this weekend. If I can get through most of the revisions this weekend, that should help a lot, but I’m fairly certain that the best I’ll be able to do is to get halfway through the book. My current mentor seems to think that my writing gets a lot better as the story progresses. I certainly hope so.