Writers and stress

Everyone knows what stress is. Without it, fiction would have no plot. Most of us would be bored, and nothing much would change. Sometimes, though, poets, writers, and other sensitive people perceive stress as, well, a burden.

In the last couple of postings, we discussed (okay, I did) the importance of sitting in a neutral position at your desk but also leaving your computer or dropping your laptop (not too forcefully) and walking away to exercise your muscles and bones, to flex your joints, and to strengthen your whole body. But sometimes that’s still not enough.

At any desk at any age, the body of a writer is more than a machine, more than a computer, more than a body of writing. Separating ourselves from our work can be difficult, but the simple act of doing something different will often bring a new perspective or a burst of creativity.

Without exercising that healthier outlook, stress becomes a culprit, rather than an interesting plot. The body clamps down in a protective mode that can be self-defeating and not at all creative.

So, what’s a body to do? Change intents. For instance, consider:

Stress may be a sign we’ve taken on more than we can handle.

Stress may be a sign we’re working on a project to which we are not drawn.

Stress may be a sign of exerting our own importance into our worries or work.

As a writer and poet, I still get caught up occasionally in productivity and deadlines, not because of the demands of editors or of readers but because I want to share what I have learned. I want to make a difference. I want to inspire readers. Or, to put it another way, I get caught up in my own sense of self-importance.

Poets and writers seem especially hopeful of helping the whole world become its better self. Ironically, though, my outlook and my writing seem to improve dramatically when I become a conduit for words, writing them down, as I am now and seeing where they lead. Because I’m a Christian as well as a poet-writer, I suspect that leading has to do with the power of God, whose importance can not be overstated, but who puts up with me, stress and all, just waiting – waiting for me to take a breath and listen, stress-free, and hear.

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(c) 2010, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved.

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2 thoughts on “Writers and stress

  1. Thanks, Rosanne. I learned the hard way that too much computer time is literally a pain in the neck! In fact, it became such pain that I researched/ wrote The Encyclopedia of Back & Spine Systems & Disorders for Facts on File 🙂

    I love that you stir around as you “cook something delicious.” With my kids grown, I lost those little interruptions that got me up and moving. So now I often set things out for dinner by mid-afternoon, which means I give more thought to meals – very healthy and, yeah, tastier than in my old throw-it-together-days 🙂

  2. Mary – there was a lot for me to take away here. I sit at the computer for hours at a time. And then I wonder why I feel sore and stressed! Many times I don't have much to show for it, either. So I have to take a walk a day, and play with the cat, and cook something delicious, and write it all down. Do I hear you say yes?
    Thank you!

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