Writing is a fickle art. Some days, your pen is on fire, and it seems as if your muse will never leave your side. On others, you’re lucky if you can push out even a juvenile sentence. It can feel like no matter how much you try your ability to write well is not consistent. The good news is this is normal. The bad news is your deadlines don’t move. So, how do you churn out great content and hit those deadlines when it feels like your pen is filled with mud?
First, breathe. There is a common misperception that you need pressure to write, that to create you must be stressed and panicked. That’s not true. Can you think of any time in your life during which being stressed and panicked helped the situation? Probably not. But, I am sure you can think of several cases in which you wish you had been more calm and centered. Writing is the same. Letting yourself become stressed and panicked over a deadline or piece of work won’t help you.
Breathing will. The American Institute of Stress puts it well, “Deep breathing increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes a state of calmness. Breathing techniques help you feel connected to your body—it brings your awareness away from the worries in your head and quiets your mind.” A quiet mind is a creative mind. Take some deep breaths and let the pressure go.
Second, step away from your desk. Our environment influences how we feel and behave. The University of Minnesota has a good article on how our environment impacts our thoughts and actions. If you are sitting at your desk stressing out over the blank document in front of you, get up and leave. Removing yourself from that environment will help to disconnect from the stress and feeling of failure associated with it.
Finally, do something that makes you feel happy. The goal is to relax your heart and mind, and happiness accomplishes that goal very well. Though, many times we don’t have the luxury of stepping out of the office to follow our bliss. What you can do is identify activities that mimic those that bring you happiness. If gardening makes you happy, take a short walk outside your office and look for trees or flowers. If exercise is your stress-reliever, try stretching and reconnecting with your body.
If you take these simple measures, your stress and panic will decrease, and your words will flow smoothly once more. Weaving these three things into your daily writing practice will stave off writer’s burnout and writer’s block. Writing may be a fickle art, but it is an art. Approaching it with a calm heart and a quiet mind will work every time.