Sunday, August 01, 2010

If You’re Under Stress, Can You Still Write?

I’ve been following an interesting discussion on a Yahoo forum called Murder Must Advertise. MMA is a really helpful place for new and experienced authors to learn about book promotion and, yes, the writing life, among other things. One of the issues raised this week was the difficulty many writers face while trying to work while under stress.

After the 9/11 tragedy, this topic appeared on a number of forums, where writers lamented the loss of the desire and/or the ability to write for a period of time. Naturally, this particularly affected writers in the New York area, but it stretched much farther than that. Many of these people felt that after witnessing so much real death and destruction, creating fiction was unimportant and even meaningless. As time passed, however, I know some of these people (maybe all) returned to their work.

Given the tough economic times many Americans face these days, writers have also been hit with job loss, financial stress, ongoing health issues, and family problems. Once again, these personal struggles have hampered some writers’ ability to create. Thoughts wander and concentration is reduced. It happens to all of us at some point.

Everyone has different ways of coping with tough times. My tough times came through financial worries in the early days of my marriage, then later, the death of a parent and the illness of my child which lasted three months before her health began to improve. Over time, she regained her health, but those first weeks were horrible. Yet, I kept writing because it was the only thing that took my mind away from real-life worries. My concentration wasn’t great, but I thought if I could write for a half-hour or even forty minutes a day, then at least I was making progress and that kept me grounded and sane.

When you’re under stress, what do you do to cope? Are there any tips you’d like to share with others? Comments are always welcome.

My amateur sleuth, Vancouver-based, Alex Bellamy mysteries can be purchased at

No comments: