Blog by Toby Welch

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Living With the Stress of Being Creative


People in most professions are told to write to relieve their stress. They take journal writing classes, jot down their thoughts and feelings, and keep stress diaries. A 2008 U.S. study proved that cancer patients who write down their deepest fears may improve their quality of life. But for writers, the act of putting pen to paper can be a stress itself, not a way to de-stress or unwind.

Barbara Meredith, a writer of non-fiction Canadian maritime history, shares her thoughts on writing stress, “After years of being in administration, I can easily say that being organized reduces my stress when I write. I focus on the morning hours of 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and warn friends that I do not answer the phone during those hours because I am writing. It really seems to work because once I’ve ‘put the word out there’, it helps me keep to the task at hand.”

For those of us who construct stories and hope to enliven readers with our words, the stress of always having to create something can be overwhelming. Having to come up with great story or article ideas can make us anxious. As a writer, we live with the fear that our writing is never good enough and that the words we deliver moments before deadline aren’t going to be adequate. The solitary life most writers lead can be another stressor.  

Keep stress from escalating by not taking on more work than you can manage. If you can’t make a deadline, discuss it with your editor. If you don’t think you can handle another writing project this month, see if you can move the due date back a little or don’t accept the assignment. Better to say no and pass on something than accept the challenge and turn in a mediocre, rushed piece.

I hope writing is always a source of joy for you and not a stressor. Happy writing!