Technical writers or non fiction writers scribble to pay the bills and for the love of the analytical or the exercise of truth or deception.

Fiction authors write to illuminate their world or escape it.

Whichever kind of writer, it's all about staying alive and helping or entertaining others.

The Writing Life

Like most writers, I have a love of reading and the power of words. When I was younger, I read everything I could get my hands on, but I don’t consider myself well read. I consumed books like a starved person, so quickly I hardly knew what I had read. By some strange process of osmosis, I learned from everything I read, but I cannot give you an erudite discussion of characters, plots, or authors. I can only tell you it’s lodged some where in the core of my being and informs my writing.

In addition to reading, I’ve spent a life time writing---from that first elementary school composition to my college days when I studied French literature and wrote explications de texte. Along the way, I fell into technical writing--to put food on the table and pay bills. In the 90s, I had the good fortune to take a dialog class with Sol Stein, former owner of Stein & Day publishers in New York and a prolific author. That led to his California-based writers’ group, Chapter One. It was a rigorous, ego-bruising experience, but I was intent on learning everything I could about fiction writing. A few years ago, I also had the good fortune to study with another writer, Louella Nelson, an experienced romance writer and teacher of fiction writing. She provided a different perspective and balance to my writing.

My novel, DREAMING OF LAUGHING HAWK, a mainstream, Sixties era novel, is available on Amazon in print and ebook (also available in Canada, Europe, Japan, and Brazil). Download a free sample. If you like it, I hope you'll download the book and post a review on Amazon.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Stress

The topic of stress keeps bouncing around in my brain and I feel I need to wrestle this universal experience to the ground. Every day, everywhere I have encountered family, co-workers, and friends who are struggling with stress in their lives, including myself. We all live it. It weighs us down, but not all of us are aware of the tools and techniques that are available to manage stress. I usually prefer to go with my right brain, but stress is one of those topics that seems more appropriate to the left brain. And after all, in my last life I was a technical writer. This is how my left brain wants to break it down.

1: Everyone has to live with stress. Some have more. Some have less. Stressful situations may be imposed on us, but we also create or feed our own stress. For a few, the wiring of their brains presents an additional obstacle to dealing with stress, in which case medication and psychotherapy may be necessary.

2: Everyone has different methods of dealing with stress—positive ways (meditation, religion, art, work, helping others, therapy, etc.) or negative ways (drugs, alcohol, obsessive behaviors, violence, depression, etc.).

3: The biggest mistake you can make when confronted with stress is to let the enormity of the situation overwhelm you. If you focus on the whole, you will be fearful and paralyzed. Or you may become angry and lash out at others. You will lose your objectivity and the calm you need to make decisions and allow good things to happen. Instead, break each stressful situation into manageable pieces. Turn on the analytical side of your brain and organize your counter attack. You have to start somewhere, whether it's a work project, a terrible disease or a relationship. Snag a corner and get to work. Eventually the whole will come together but in a less stressful way that allows you to breath and think clearly—maybe even laugh.

4: Stress loves company. One stressful situation invites another. The only way to deal with multiple stressors is to divide and conquer AND avoid sending out the invitations yourself. There are enough stressful situations in your day-to-day life. If your stress load has reached critical mass, you should avoid taking on additional responsibilities that can only add to your load. Learn when to say NO or LATER.

5: Prioritize your stressors. Otherwise, you will just be chasing your tail. Deal with the most important stressors first. Make a decision, a first step, and then move on to the next stressor. Learn to judge when a quick response is necessary or a delay in action may be a benefit. Stressors with definite deadlines should be handled in a timely fashion in order to avoid further stress. On the other hand, some stressors resolve themselves by a little strategic foot dragging.

6: Simplify and organize your life. Clutter and disorganization add to the stress load. Taking on too many tasks, activities, or responsibilities adds to the stress load. Balance.

7: Don't let others stoke the fires of stress. Well, it's easier said than done, but you can't let others negatively influence your ability to handle stress. Be careful who you confide in. Make sure they respect your space. At the same time you should try to be open to mature, intelligent opinions that may be beneficial to you.
8: Take a deep breath and center yourself. This is where the right brain takes over. Go for a walk, meditate, be still and let go. Stop the mind chatter of “what ifs.” Trust the universe. Trust the Divine Spirit. Trust yourself. Give yourself the mental space you need to strengthen yourself so that you can manage stress. Let the right brain provide creative solutions to the problems in your life that are causing stress. Find positive, creative outlets that help siphon off anxiety and depression.

So there it is in a nutshell—my prescription for dealing with stress. Admittedly, the advice is a little cut and dried, like weed whacking, but if you can get the weeds out of the way, it gives that marvelous right-brained magic the opportunity to dance circles around whatever is causing stress in your life, Set yourself free.

3 comments:

  1. Hi Linda! Stress is a killer for sure. No 3 is very hard to do I find. But you have some great points here, even though they can be hard to follow at times. (Hope you are well). :-)

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Denise. All is well. Cancer is off the stress list and I'm busy with the holidays and painting.

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  2. "Instead, break each stressful situation into manageable pieces. Turn on the analytical side of your brain and organize your counter attack." Excellent advice.

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