Stress Writing

The last few weeks have been among the most exhausting and stressful that I’ve encountered in many, many years for reasons far too mundane (and personal) to get into. Suffice to say, I’ve been feeling flat out.

When stress hits, some people turn to food. Some take to alcohol. Others turn to caffeine, exercise, bad TV—you name it. But I’ve got dietary restrictions that limit what I can eat and drink, and caffeine and my stomach are not the best of friends. So what’s a gal to do when stress hits hard?

Certainly, I’ve watched my share of good (and bad) television of late in an effort to take it down a notch or two. But I’ve also taken to writing to blow off some steam. Not writing of the useful MFA program variety, or even of the lucrative freelancing variety. Instead, I’m writing fluff. And it turns out that it’s a wonderfully fun to write fluff—where there’s no pressure, no deadlines, no expectations. Nothing at all but me sitting by the fire with my laptop and churning out whatever I feel like writing. And what I feel like writing is pure fluff.

This would have distressed me to no end mere months ago. I would have further stressed myself out by worrying that I wasn’t expending creative energy in more serious ways. Now…well…who honestly cares? It’s fun, it’s harmless, and it’s gotten me through the rather tedious month of November and beyond. I wrote 51 pages of a new story last week, just because I was on edge.

So, while I cannot actually eat the marshmallow-y goodness known as Fluff, it turns out I can churn out fluff on the page at breakneck speed when my psyche needs it.

Now if only I could have some caffeine….



Running My Way to Clarity

When I was pregnant and going to childbirth classes, I was told (repeatedly) to imagine myself someplace soothing—the beach, a peaceful forest, a grassy glade—in order to work through the pain.

This did not work for me.

I had a hard time keeping my focus on something restful and quiet, even before the labor pains kicked in. What worked was to imagine myself hiking up a steep mountainside.

While this probably only serves to confirm my fears about having a Type A personality, it does help explain why I’ve not been able to stick with yoga, but instead have turned to running.

Running has slowly turned into my savior when stress starts to get to me, when I feel like my mind is in overdrive, and when taking a break by lying around is nothing but a bad idea. So, I bought myself an iPod Nano, some kick-butt running shoes, and got to work putting together an awesome running mix.

I run along the beach, with Madonna’s “Ray of Light” blaring in my ears, with Kanye West and Taylor Swift peacefully coexisting, and with Macklemore imploring me to throw my hands up like the ceiling can’t hold me. And I’ve discovered that pounding my feet on the pavement gets my mind in the right place to write—and magically erases stress.

Running gods and my left knee willing, I’ll keep going further and further every week, pushing myself to stay healthy and stay sane all at the same time.

And now I’ll stop blabbering on about running and get some of that stressful-type work done. Happy Friday!