Enough! I’ve got too much on my plate already. I can’t handle any more pressure.
Have you ever said that to yourself?
I have. Many times.
Pressure is one of Twelve Troublemakers that plagues me as a writer. I’m exploring one a week. This is the second in the series.
Many writers admit to feeling pressured. In fact, I believe most would. I’ve interviewed many writers who said they have too much to do in the time they have available, which causes them to feel pressured or stressed, and that affects their writing.
Reducing Pressure Isn’t the Answer
My husband is a science teacher, and at times Gwynly can be as literal as the TV show anthropologist Bones. I’d originally titled this blog post “How to Reduce Pressure,” but he convinced me to change it, and here’s why.
Gwynly teaches chemistry, and one of his recent lessons dealt with pressure. He’s an excellent teacher, one of those who brings science to life with lots of demonstrations. To teach his students about pressure, he actually lies on a bed of nails.
I asked him how he can do this. He explained that it has to do with spreading his weight over a large area. If there were only one nail in the board, he’d exert 160 lbs of pressure on it. When he lies on many nails, he’s exerting far less pressure per nail, making it possible for him to rest his weight on those prickly points and not suffer pain.
When he explained this to me, I smiled, asked if I could share his picture, and told him I was going to talk about how we writers can reduce our pressure. He gave me one of those looks I’ve come to know, one that told me I was off base scientifically. Not wanting to share faulty information, I asked him where I’d gone wrong. His answer surprised me.
“I really don’t think you want to reduce the pressure, Wifely. That would mean giving up your contract or not writing anymore, and I know you don’t want to do that. What you want to do is to how learn to handle the pressure.”
Gwynly was right. Pressure is part of the job of being a writer. I’m going to experience it. What I need to do is find constructive ways to deal with it.
Learning to Handle Pressure
Dealing with the body – Pressure causes stress and can affect us physically. Thus, we need to find ways to care for our bodies.
- Get some exercise. We writers spend hours at our computers. Most of us are sitting. Some have switched to standing desks or even treadmill desks, which help. Those of us in chairs need to plan times to get some aerobic exercise. For some this isn’t a problem. I’m not a real fan of exercise, but I do enjoy walking. Not only does a walk get me moving, but it also clears my head.
- Take breaks. It’s important to get out of the chair every so often. Even a trip to the kitchen can help. Taking time to do some stretching is even better.
Dealing with the Mind – In order to keep our creative wells filled, it’s important to get away from our computers periodically.
- Spend time with family and friends. Sometimes we need to bid our characters farewell so we can enjoy the company of real people. An evening with a loved one or a lunch date with a pal can be fun and can recharge us, too.
- Enjoy other creative pursuits or interests. Some of my writers friends enjoy painting, scrapbooking, quilting, etc. Listening to music relaxes me. And there’s nothing like cuddling up with a good book.
Your Experience with Pressure . . . and a Drawing Prize
How do you handle the pressure in your life?
What is your favorite form of exercise?
What are your creative outlets?
One person who leaves a comment and answers one of the questions above will win the porcupine pictured above. This little Folkmanis finger puppet might seem a silly item for an adult, but it could serve as a visual reminder to keep tabs on the pressure in your life. If you win and don’t want the little guy, you could always share it with a child or grandchild.
I’ll hold the drawing Sunday, February 20th and post the winner’s name in the post published the next day, when I’ll introduce the next of the Twelve Troublemakers.
The winner of Dubious, the Doubt Dragon from last Monday’s post is Bonnie R. Paulson.