Thursday, June 30, 2011

Feeling the Pressure?

It seems that everyone I talk to lately is under a lot of pressure. And those who aren't seem to have those little nuisances in life gnawing at them. You know, like you didn't flip your car on the interstate. Thank God for that. But the security officer stopped you as you went through the entrance...just long enough for the gate to scrape down the whole side of your car.

Sometimes, particularly in our very busy lives, the little things mount up and blow the top right off the pressure cooker. It's enough to make us crazy. Oh, and then we're supposed to sit down at the blank screen and pound out all manner of perfect prose. You know, there IS a reason they call that little flashing character a CURSE-er.

So what's a weiry writer to do? Well, you could go to the mall, sit on a bench and stick your tongue out at everyone who passes. That usually works for me but if that's not your style, you need some other mechanism to let it out.

I recommend minute vacations. You know, those moments where you go to an exotic island in the south pacific and lay in the cool breeze with your toes sunk in sand? Just stop... step away from the computer... and daydream. Go to your favorite location with only those who won't make you crazy. Erect a sign in your mental image that says, "No Naggers Allowed!"

Soak it in. Bask in the peace of the one place on earth Aunt Agnes won't think to look. It'll make you smile when you sign the ticket and the police officer will wonder what you're really up to. :-)

What about you? Feeling the pressure? Type out your gripe in a comment and you will be instantly cured. Ok, not really but I'd like to hear from you anyway.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Dealing With Discouragement

I know writers sometimes get overwhelmed while juggling life and pounding out prose. And things do happen that pull us away from our creativity. That's called life and the only alternative to that will suddenly and permanently end your writing career altogether.

That being said,I've noticed recently that writers- specifically Christian authors- are being hit with discouragement. I have numerous author friends and colleagues and I can honestly say not one of them is free right now from this ball and chain.

So what is a writer to do? How do we fight against that negative emotion when it wraps its tentacles around us and pulls us down into the pit of despair? Most of the discouragement we experience is a direct result of being overwhelmed. The good news is that Overwhelm is entirely treatable!

When life happens in such rapid succession it's overwhelming, it's important to:

1) GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK! Take time to regroup. You may not be able to fly to the Swiss Alps for two weeks. Wouldn't that be lovely? You can take a day, an hour, or a few moments to exclude all outside distractions and just spend the time on Y.O.U. Take a hot bath. Go for a walk. Get an ice cream cone. Something that will recharge you.

2) LIGHTEN UP! You can't do it all. Nor can you be all things to all people all the time. So don't hold yourself to it. We have so many things tugging at us, we rarely feel like we do any of them justice. Do the best you can in every circumstance but don't expect any more of yourself than that. It just won't happen and is utterly unfair to you.

3) SET REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS: You could have 127 items on your daily "to do" list. Wow! That's ambitious and... ummm... CRAZY! It's great to have a list. It's one of the greatest tools to keep you on task. You will be productive by working toward accomplishing each and every one of those tasks, but not all in the same day. Prioritize and make it a point to finish the most pressing ones, and give yourself permission to do the rest tomorrow... or next week... or...

The bottom line is that, in your overwhelmingly busy life when you just can't seem to get ahead in the game, you have to consciously do things to avoid being overwhelmed. If you can master that, you'll be able to combat discouragement.

What steps can you take today that will build in those safeguards in your life? Leave a comment here and help others. Implement the steps and you'll help yourself.

For more ideas on how to organize your day, pick up this book: