Dealing with Stress

by Lori Soard

I can’t take it anymore. Ahhh!

How can writers keep stress from affecting their writing? Eating three rolls of Rolaids in a row might help temporarily, but what happens when Wal-mart runs out? Switch to Tums?

First, stop. Take a deep breath. Suck air into those lungs. Let it out slowly. Repeat as many times as it takes to recall how to adequately breathe. When most people get agitated, they tend to breath more rapidly. Make a conscious effort to slow down.

Stamp out stress. Determine your own priorities. Decide what is the MOST important in your life. Your list may look something like this:

Family Home Writing (or job) Housework The laundry that is starting to take on a life of its own. Cleaning out the car (who knows what’s growing under all that stuff anyway?)

Once you’ve decided what is the least important, decide how to either farm the work out to someone else, or get rid of it. For example, can you pay your niece five dollars (or twenty, depending on how messy your car is 🙂 to clean the mini-van?

Learn to say no. Only take on what you can handle, and pass on the rest. Someone else WILL step up and do the work, but why should they if they know you will always be there to do it for them? This may even allow people who would not normally participate to get involved.

How can everything on that long to-do list get finished? Get organized. Buy a daily planner, write everything down. Prioritize some more. List the most important items first, the least important last. Can you get help with any of those bottom items?

Learn to be flexible. If you can’t do research because the web is inaccesible, go to the next item on your list and work on that. Go back to the research later.

Stress can motivate us to work harder, inspire us to be more than we had ever planned to be, or it can knock us to our knees. Recognize your body’s signals when you’re under too much stress, and give yourself permission to take time off. Take a walk or a long bubble bath, then come back with a fresh perspective and hopefully an ability to work with the stress.

***Note: Yes, yes. Everyone is thinking…gee, Lori says to say NO, but she doesn’t do that LOL This is an IDEAL plan for dealing with stress. None of us are perfect, we can only try.

Overcoming Self-Doubt and Naysayers

by: Lori Soard

Ever hear that still little voice that whispers into your ear, “You’ll never be a real writer!” ? Perhaps your little voice is a family member who thinks you’ve “gone off the deep end” to pursue writing. Whatever the source of the doubt, it is at times difficult to overcome. Here a few tips for keeping positive in the face of naysayers.

1) Write down your goals. This will make them seem more concrete and will give you specifics to work toward. Be realistic but challenge yourself.

2) When writing, make a conscience effort to say, “I’m working.” If someone calls, never say, “I’m writing.” They often take that as a sign that you aren’t doing anything <ha ha> and keep right on chatting. Tell them you are “working.” Not only will this show your family and friends you’re serious about this path you’ve chosen but it will help you remind yourself.

3) Try to set a schedule for your writing. Even if you only have 15 minutes a day, make it clear that those are your 15 minutes and anyone interrupting does so at their own risk.

4) Surround yourself with peers who will support you when you’re down. Online networks are wonderful for this. There are many chat rooms, online chapters, listservs and much more to help you through your down times.

5) Read stories about others’ successes and how they overcame self-doubt.

6) Rent an audio tape from your local library on self-improvement. Something like “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.” It can motivate you and give you a new outlook on life.

7) Invest in your career. You don’t have to be rich to invest in a fantastic new ink pen that feels comfortable in your hand and you enjoy writing notes with.

8) Submit your work. Be brave. Yes, you might get rejected. But, you also might get some wonderful comments from an editor and grow as a writer.

9) Join a critique group. Attend a conference. Read a book on writing. Improve your skill at every opportunity.

10) Never give up. Perseverance does pay. You might not sell yoru first book or your seventh, but what if you give up after number seven and number eight was the one that would have sold?

Flashback: Everything I Need to Know About Writing I Learned from Disney Movies

When you see “Flashback” in front of an article, it means it is an article that originally appeared on Word Museum in the beginning before it was sold and then regained by Lori. We have reposted these articles, because we feel they add great value to the site. Where possible we include the date of the original article.

Written By: Lori Soard
Date: 08/02/2001

Article

EVERYTHING I NEEDED TO KNOW ABOUT WRITING, I LEARNED FROM DISNEY MOVIES by Lori Soard August 5, 2000

Remember when every Sunday the family would gather round the TV for the Disney Family Movie? Movies that were filled with heroes, heroines, honor and the good guy winning.

Every Sunday was training for me as a writer. While I munched on popcorn, I also learned the fundamentals of a good story.

1) There must be a hero. Someone who stands out above the crowd. Examples: Peter Pan, Bambi, and yes even Goofy has his own heroic qualities.

2) The villain must have sympathetic qualities as well as flaws to be believable. The best example is Peter Pan’s “Hook.” Who couldn’t relate to Hook’s very real fear of the crocodile? While we despise his tactics, we relate to his fear. It makes him more real.

3) Start with a bang. With the exclusion of “Fantasia,” most Disney movies start with a major event. Some sort of action. Little Mermaid’s concert or Lady and the Tramp’s birth of “baby.”

4) Keep the middle moving. The best example is 101 Dalmations, which is sit-on-the-edge-of-your-seat-and-chew-your-fingernails action.

5) Always have a happy ending. The good guy always wins. Example: Any Disney movie. This rule applies to genre fiction.

Over the years, I’ve picked up 1000’s more tidbits from those movies. It just goes to show that writers learn from every experience. Be open to new challenges. Look at the world like a writer and you never know what you might learn.