For even the most emotionally stable of writers, dealing with difficult emotional situations can place a lot of stress on the creative process. Being creative is work. If you’re having toruble thinking that indicates impeded flow, just like the flow of water through the pipes in your house. If something blocks the flow, nothing comes out at the other end.
The creative process is more than what you write. There’s also a part that happens invisibly, under the surface. That’s when your senses perceive the world around you and your heart and mind are thrown into dissonance. That’s when your soul stops responding.
Normally, your creative response doesn’t just pour out of your head. There’ s no such thing as pure expression. You formulate, strategize, order, and then articulate. It’s only that last part—at best about 25 percent—that shows as output or progress.
The sudden death of someone close to you can put you under a great deal of stress. Know from the start that the period of grieving will last from one to two years. Life gets better as the days pass by, but you will have to deal with it. It you find you’re unable to cope, get some grief counseling or join a support group.
Divorce can be traumatic, especially if your spouse has been having an affair. The main emotional trauma to deal with here is personal rejection by someone you’ve trusted, followed by self-doubt. When any long-term relationship ends—even one with a publication or one of your editors—you also need to grieve. While the process is as prolonged as when someone dies, it’s grieving nevertheless.
The sudden onset of an illness or a medical condition can be life changing. Besides medical care, what’s needed here is a lifestyle change. It may be that all the stress you’ve put yourself through as a writer finally catches up to you, causing your body to fail. If your medical condition can be dealt with, you’ll be able to go through rehab. And while that may get your body back in shape, you’ll also have to go through mental rehab. Severe or prolonged illness often brings on depression. Get help if you need it.
Another stresser is a perceived or actual lack of financial support. The cliched image of a starving writer working in a one-room garret is fiction. You need to have some sort of income otherwise your body won’t be in the best shape to create anything. You may have to face up to getting a part-time job to bring in enough income to eat and pay your bills.
Repeated rejection leading to making you doubt your ability as a writer can also lead to major stress. For some people, this is the primary cause of stress throughout their writing career.
So what are some ways of dealing with all of the above?
- First, get enough sleep. Your body, including your mind, works better when you have enough rest. Sleeping an extra hour can make all the difference.
- Cry. Yes, have a good cry. If the situation is that bad, you’ll get some emotional release by crying. If nothing else, it will make you feel better. But don’t let yourself get mired in the black hole of depression.
- Get support from family and friends. Tell those you trust what’s going on. While they may not be able to physically help you, they can lend moral support.
- Surf the Internet. See what tips you can find to help you deal with your problem.