Breathe and Write
Stress is a serious thing. Deadlines and worries, internal standards of perfection and flouted ambition, meetings and gatherings, doings and workings–all of it is really too much for the soul, never mind what it does to the constitution of a creative writer.
For writing types and artists, the only way to handle stress is by working. The lucky thing is that we have a routine that ought to be part of our process no matter what kind of artist we are and that is the draft or sketch. Nothing is right or wrong with a draft. A sketch should never be late or soon. These are preliminary endeavors. They happen outside of the busy realm of deadlines, competition, standards, and harried doing.
It’s actually rather funny when you think about it. In self-help books by leading psychologists, one of the main pieces of advice for people suffering from stress and anxiety — after modifying diet and getting more exercise and sleep — is taking up a creative hobby like writing or drawing, ceramics or piano playing. These activities are thought to be on the other side of the world from anxiety’s address.
Tell that to all the artists and writers and musicians out there who suffer like crazy from stress! Why isn’t the intrinsically calming and therapeutic effects of their craft working its magic on them?
Ah, all in moderation, I suppose, and of course the answer is quite obvious, when the canvas becomes your wall street, the page for the poem becomes your timeclock down at the quarry, screeching louder than that bird Fred Flintstone used to pull the tail of–I guess the answer is obvious then.
But we don’t have to give in to it. The answer is the draft and the sketch, the exploratory jam. Don’t forget to play free every once in a while. If you’re a writer and you gauge every piece for the next market it could get into, you better also spend some time writing things just for the joy of moving ideas around with words. Otherwise, you risk letting your talent become your taskmaster.