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?