Friday, January 11, 2008

Stop the Insanity!

Like everyone, I'm looking forward to a happy, productive, hopefully fulla-good-things new year.

However, it's been one of those weeks. You know, the kind that makes you want to run screaming into the street, or just hide in a very deep hole and pull it in after yourself. Lemmee recap quickly with minimal drama: in the last five days, I had to start putting boy-diapers on my aging Peke who has decided that marking territory around the house is an excellent way to let the world know what stuff is his, my middle child developed the world's grossest rash, complete with fever, which was unidentifiable to both his regular doc and the ER doc we waited seven hours to see (yeah, SEVEN), and my husband left for a six-month stint in Japan. In short, AAAAUUUUUGGGGGHHHHH!

I'm not trying to garner sympathy, here. As a pet owner, mom, and Navy wife, I bought this package, and I have weeks like this sometimes. But what I think is relevant to all of us here is that, despite the insanity swirling around me, I have to find ways to cut through the stress and write. I have deadlines. A new book to write. Pages to approve/edit. Website copy to finalize. You know...important career stuff. So what's an overstressed writer to do? I have a few ideas that might help us all this year when the going gets tough and the tough head for the cookie jar instead of the computer.

Now, there's a disclaimer here: I am not exactly the patron saint of relaxation. This is a short list of things I've resolved to try this year when my sanity is hanging by a thread and I still have my daily page quota to meet, instead of playing Chuzzle and/or eating too many munchies. I want to lose a little poundage for National this year, after all. Yet another resolution. *sigh* Anyway, here goes. When I am losing my mind (as usual) this year, I hereby resolve to do one or more of the following:

1. Do a relaxation/breathing exercise like Debralee's scrying idea. Sometimes, all it takes is a quiet time out to refocus and center yourself again, clearing away the clutter.

2. Take a walk. Alone, if possible, but if I have to take the two-year-old, just look at it as enhanced exercise, and he likes the scenery anyway. Getting away from Crazy Central for a little while is sometimes the best medicine.

3. Try aromatherapy. I keep hearing how beneficial this is, and since I'm one of those people who smells EVERYTHING, this might really help me. Could be used in conjunction with number one.

4. Get more sleep. I'm very, very guilty of staying up way too late to get work done, and I know that by the time I finished the last book, I was looking like an extra from Night of the Living Dead. I think setting a bedtime for myself might help me with a little problem I like to call "Kendra has too much fun wandering the internets" as well. The creativity never flows as well when my body is beat up. Sleep is key. Must. Remember. Sleep.

5. Exercise. Oh, how I hate the exercise. But along with #4, this is one of those mind/body wellness issues that keeps the brain sharp. Plus, how am I gonna look fabulous by July if I don't leave the indent my butt has made on the couch?

6. Laugh. I get super serious when I'm under the gun, like most people. I hereby resolve to start taking a little time to seek out things that I know crack me up when evil is afoot around here. For instance, last night my CP introduced me to both the lolcats ( and this little animated cartoon of a writer bludgeoning himself to death with his keyboard out of sheer frustration. Okay, the latter sounds disturbing, but seriously, it's a stick man, and I think we all feel like that sometimes. If nothing else, check out the kittehs. They are awesome.

7. Listen to music. I LOVE me some music, and my ipod is a necessary item in my life. Sometimes, depending on what I need, I can use music to lighten up (as in, I sing loudly and dance like an idiot around my kitchen) or chill and visualize my characters along with a song that reminds me of them. The latter I need to do more often when I get stuck, because it seems to work for me.

8. Take a bubble bath. I never do this, but the once in a blue moon when I manage to lock myself away in the bathroom with a glass of wine, music, and bubbles in the tubbie, I wind up feeling completely rejuvenated.

9. Knock off the caffeine. Yeah, um...I'm including this because it's a good idea from all reports, not because I'm capable. I have three little kids. I need teh coffee. I hereby declare myself exempt. If you want to try it, though, I bet it actually helps.

10. Make a list, and take it in pieces. I have a major problem of becoming overwhelmed, and then paralyzed. I do like lists, and crossing things off of them (so satisfying), so this is my final idea of de-stressing when it's writin' time. Set smaller, more quickly achievable goals for yourself that lead to the big goal, so you can see the progress and actually feel like you're making some headway.

These are the things that I think are most doable, at least for me, to release some of the steam that tends to build up without scalding anyone or anything else in the process. There may be other coping strategies that work for you, too, and if so please share them! We all have stress, after all. And writing is a wonderfully crazy business at the best of times. Sometimes I thrive in it, and sometimes...well, sometimes muddling through is the best I can do. But this year, as my career starts, I'm going to try and refrain from banging my head against the keyboard and head for something more conducive to creativity once the kiddos have gone to bed. Like a vanilla scented bubble bath! Hope some of these work for you too, and more ideas are welcome.

Happy Writing (in the most relaxing way possible),



  1. Ugh, between the dog and the kids, it's a miracle we're all not insane (well, more so than usual)

    I also hate to exercise, but it is so good for you in so many ways. Still, that doesn't get my butt out of my chair either :)

    Whenever I'm stressed, I call my Italian Greyhound over and cuddle with him. He's so soft and has such a gentle spirit, he calms me down immediately.

    When that doesn't work, I take a nice long nap.


  2. I cut back on caffeine a while ago and it does help one fall asleep more easily. I limit myself to 2 caf beverages a day (so I didn't cut WAY back!) but I can't have any caf after about 2 pm. I fall asleep like a treat now.