Stress and the Part Time Writer

English: Finnish symphonic metal band Apocalyp...
Finnish symphonic metal band Apocalyptica performing at the Ilosaarirock festival in Joensuu, Finland. Believe it or not, these guys help me write.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I write novels as a part time gig.  I do not have any illusions.  I know I don’t have time to do all the promotion I need to do, so this blog, my Facebook page and my Twitter account are about the extent of my marketing strategy.

I have several jobs:

1.  I teach full time, which includes teaching 2 Advanced Placement courses and four sections of junior level English.

2.  I am the director of my school’s supplemental online coursework.

3.  I am the alternative education director of my school and have administrative duties in that area.

4.  I am a father of four, and father who is actively engaged in their lives, helping them become productive, responsible adults.  They have interests at school and homework on a nightly basis that needs constant attention, especially my son who suffers from ADD and has trouble in math.

5.  I have a wonderful wife who needs romancing and who is my life’s greatest asset.

6.  I maintain this blog, posting a post a day and sometimes twice a day.

Needless to say, I have many stresses in my life that (try as they might) sometimes prevent me from focusing on writing.

Today I arrived home and am particularly tired from a long day at school.  My students wrote a sonnet this week so that I might teach them in a round-about way that their writing is something that must be carefully and meticulously composed.  Through the process, they learned that they had to first brainstorm ideas about what to write, write lines that did not meet the meter and rhyme and then revise them until they did, and find words that created iambs rather than trochees or dactyls.  Tonight I prepared dinner, cleaned the kitchen, and then sat down to write this blog before helping my oldest daughter and my son study for a test.  My youngest daughter is writing sentences using her spelling words.

Am I ranting?  I suppose.

I simply desire to write something tonight.  I suppose I am stressed, but I must channel that stress into my keyboard tonight.  I must stay up and get some of my WIP done.  I am waiting on the proof readers to return Book 2 so that I can begin the editing process, but until then I would like to start on Book 3 while I wait.

I will write tonight.  I will write 1000 words or die.  It must be done.  I may then rest.  

Some ways to maximize your time:

1.  Find a Quiet Place – I usually wait until my wife and kids have gone to bed and then I get busy.  I curl up on the couch with my laptop and let my fingers work and apply the bum glue until I’ve cranked out 1000 words or bust, even if the words are nothing that good.  Sometimes I have flares of inspiration, but spending the last few hours of the day writing is where I find my “red zone”.

2.  Listen to Something Moody – I pop in the earbuds and crank up music that puts me in the mood for which the particular scene I am writing requires.  My WIP is a post-apocalyptic story, so right now I am listening to the soundtrack for The Book of Eli by Atticus Ross interspersed with The Road Warrior soundtrack by Brian May and Apocalyptica‘s cello music.  This helps me to focus on the task at hand, and since the music does not have words, it is not in any way distracting.

3.  Snacks – I usually pour a glass of milk and sip it now and again.  I have a gluten allergy, so I usually have chocolate nearby since some studies show that chocolate actually increases your brain’s ability to use cognitive functions.

Thanks for listening…I mean reading.  I’m off to help my children with their education now.  Can’t type any more.

How do you deal with stress when you want to write and life seems to get in the way?  Post that here.

Published by Roger Colby, Novelist, Editor

Roger Colby is a novelist and teacher who has taught English for nearly two decades. He is also an avid reader of science fiction who feels, like many other sci-fi readers, that he has read everything. He writes science fiction for the reader who is looking for the next best thing, something to excite them into reading again. This blog is his journey as a writer and his musings about writing. He also edits manuscripts for a fee and is an expert at helping you reach your full potential as a writer.

6 thoughts on “Stress and the Part Time Writer

  1. You are clearly driven to write, and that is the main motivator. I’m the same, and I also aim for 1000 words a day, but don’t always get there. But tonight I’ll try again, like I do every other night. I can’t listen to music when I write, it interrupts the buzzing in my head, but occasionally I like to listen to one or two tunes at the end of a session to celebrate a good night, or to write off another bad night.

  2. Thanks! For reminding me that I am not the ONLY one! (I also have read a bunch of interviews with big name authors who disparage listening to music while they write. So thank you AGAIN for telling us about your playlist. I write fantasy and have a long list of soundtracks that put me in the mood: Myst, Lord of the Rings, Last of the Mohicans, 13th Warrior etc.
    I don’t know how to respond about the stress. I tend to just stuff it all down deeper and keep going. Not the best of plans, frankly…

  3. Hmmm you may have just complicated my diet with the chocolate info lol right now I am in panic mode as I have a date for my surgery which is much sooner than anticipated and have spent the morning list making prioritising everything I need to sort over the next couple of weeks

  4. That was a great post! Writing is one of the ways I deal with stress, but I also know that I’m not going to have a finished product every day. I make sure to write a little bit, even if it’s only a couple sentences (or even a bit of editing ) each day. That way, I know I’ve accomplished something, and I don’t stress myself out over my writing. There’s enough to stress me out anyway.

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