Stress less and daydream more: a resolution

My biggest resolution for this year is simple: Stress less, and daydream more.

Over the last couple of years, since Incarnate was first tiptoeing into the world with advance copies of other Winter 2012 debuts, my daydreams began to shift. The thought patterns I’d worn deep over years suddenly began to carve a new path.

Instead of spending car rides looking out the window (in the passenger seat!) thinking about my characters and imagining their adventures, I started thinking about book tours.

Instead of letting scenes roll through my mind again and again until I’d found the heart of them, I started brooding about sales numbers.

Instead of hearing my book’s narrative voice in my head, describing the world or sensations around me, I heard the green voice of jealousy and it talked me into round after round of the comparison game.

This quickly grew dangerous, and stressful. I spent more and more time focusing on things I had no power to control, and less and less time embracing the one thing I could: my writing.

I mean, I wrote. I produced a few manuscripts in between Incarnate books, so obviously the drive to write hadn’t left. I just…didn’t see it in the same way. It took more work to focus on my story, and not let myself be distracted by everything else. I took steps to keep away from things I feared would send me down a negative spiral. I discussed my feelings with friends. I reminded myself to keep my eyes on my own paper. And it helped.

This year, I’m making an effort to go further. I’ve started keeping a “what if?” journal. Every day, I write a what if. It can be big or small, as long as it’s creative. I never have to look at it again; the point is that I’m creating that path of daydreamy thoughts again.

This year, I’m reading more books that inspire me and open up new channels of thought. I’m watching movies and TV shows that delight me, and stay with me. I’m exercising while I listen to my WIP’s playlist and lose myself in parts of the story. I’m listening to podcasts about things that fascinate me. I’m taking time to just let my thoughts drift in storyish ways. And for those times I’m stressed — because there’s not a switch to turn it off — I’m keeping a journal. Sometimes just the act of writing helps.

Some stress is normal—healthy even—but when it tightens into constant anxiety, it’s time for me to find ways to let it go. And that’s what I want to be better about this year.

How do you deal with stress?

     

12 Responses to Stress less and daydream more: a resolution

  1. Kit Grindstaff Jan 20 2014 at 7:44 am #

    I don’t usually read blog posts as they come into my email box, but I’m so glad I took the time today! This is exactly what I needed. It’s so easy to forget to feed one’s inspiration – not to mention one’s soul. Thank you!

    • jodimeadows
      jodimeadows Jan 20 2014 at 2:34 pm #

      Thanks, Kit. I’m glad this spoke to you. I suspect a lot of writers go through this — no matter where they are in the publishing process — but it’s hard to talk about and admit to. Changing can be hard, but it’s worth it!

  2. ChristaJLS Jan 20 2014 at 10:00 am #

    A What if Journal is such a great idea! Especially since I’m so prone to thinking up great scenarios and then forgetting about them the next day

    • jodimeadows
      jodimeadows Jan 20 2014 at 2:35 pm #

      Give it a try! I probably won’t use any of the ideas in my What If journal, but I like keeping it. Maybe one day I will use an idea from it! πŸ™‚

  3. tracikenworth Jan 20 2014 at 10:53 am #

    I can see how that could happen. It’s good that you were able to steer free of that path. Hugs and good luck on your resolution!!

    • jodimeadows
      jodimeadows Jan 20 2014 at 2:35 pm #

      Thanks! It’s a lot of work to keep from sliding back into bad habits, but the effort is worth it. πŸ™‚

  4. Anna J. Boll Jan 20 2014 at 2:54 pm #

    Perfect post for me. I’ve been having such a hard time focussing on my WIP because my agent has two of manuscripts on sub, and my “other job” is as a school/library booking agent can fill all my time if I let it. Sometimes the business of writing saps my desire to write too. I’ve been reading The Artists Way and trying not to get down on myself when I miss a day (or two, or three) of morning pages or my artist date– even though I know I need them. I will try to recommit to filling the creative tank. Thanks for this!

    • jodimeadows
      jodimeadows Jan 20 2014 at 3:56 pm #

      Oh Anna, I’m sorry to hear you’ve been having a hard time lately. You’re definitely not alone. <3

  5. Lucy D. Briand Jan 20 2014 at 8:42 pm #

    Stress…an evil 6 letter word.

    I’ve been having a hard time getting back in to daydream mode myself. My WIP’s seem to suffer the most from it. After 2 months of life consuming anxiety, I found myself trying to figure out how I managed to write the WIP that got me my agent so easily…and I think you nailed it.

    I remember those days of sitting in the car (passenger) and dreaming up scene after scene with ease. All I seam to do since this “unrelated to writing” stress grabbed a hold of me is fill my mind with more stress about getting my WIP’s done and put pressure on myself. Now that I have an agent I feel the need to produce more.

    Last week I managed to resolve my “unrelated to writing” stress issue and my hope is that I haven’t scared away my creative side. Time to try and bring back those daydreaming days…I miss those days

    I needed this post. Thank you!

    • jodimeadows
      jodimeadows Jan 21 2014 at 1:00 pm #

      I’m sorry to hear you’ve been struggling, Lucy. I’m glad to hear you’ve resolved some of your stress though. Stories don’t go away. You’ll sink right back into writing, I promise. Stories want to be written! (Usually.) πŸ™‚

  6. Alexa S. Jan 21 2014 at 10:03 pm #

    I absolutely LOVE your resolution for this year, Jodi! It’s a really good one, and the steps you’ve taken to embrace it are really inspiring. As for me, I deal with stress in the following ways: (1) listening to really good/inspiring/upbeat music, (2) writing out whatever it is I’m stressing about, (3) lighting a couple of candles here and there and (4) prayer. The last one is usually the clincher in making me feel ten billion times better πŸ™‚

    • jodimeadows
      jodimeadows Jan 22 2014 at 10:32 am #

      Thanks, Alexa! I love your list for dealing with stress, especially number 4 one. Praying always helps me the most; unfortunately I too often use it as a last resort. Bad Jodi! πŸ˜›

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