"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
Information & inspiration to hone your craft and increase your cash...Since 2009

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Got Stress? The Doctor's In...

Sometimes stress seems like an "occupational hazard" for writers.
Doesn't it?
We agonize over deadlines, struggle with writer's block, and stretch ourselves to the limit.
Not to mention the constant juggling of other professional and personal demands.

Who wouldn't feel a bit overwhelmed from time to time?

Well, here to help us mellow the madness and answer a few stress related questions, we have with us today at Pen and Prosper, Dr. Serena Wadhwa of TriQual Living.

1. Dr. Wadhwa, is stress ever a good thing? If so, how?

Absolutely! We require a certain amount of stress that allow us to feel challenged, stimulated, and energized. When we are "understressed" or "overstressed' this reduces our ability to stretch ourselves and grow. Most people do well with an "optimal" level.

2. How about positive affirmations and mantras...do they work in terms of mellowing the madness?

Yes, it's possible. Some research indicates that specifically constructed affirmations create a different "pathway" in our brain for us to follow.

3. Are writers more inclined to stress than other "worker bees?"
It depends. I believe that the individual really makes the difference in terms of perceptions, abilities, coping skills, experience, lessons learned, etc. I know many writers struggle with writer's block, which can create more stress, particularly if there's a looming deadline for a project.

4. Is "writer's block" reality or perception?
Both. We may perceive a block to our creativity and there may be blocks to our creative flow (work pressures, family, unexpected events, emotions, etc.)

5. Are there gender differences in the way men and women deal with stress? Who's better?

Yes, some research indicates that women tend to deal with stress by looking for support, while men may look to problem-solve. This is partly related to the chemicals released during times of stress. Of course, these are overgeneralizations, but the release of certain chemicals do influence certain behaviors. As far as who’s better, I can’t answer that question. It’s just that men and women deal with things differently and this is something necessary to keep in mind.

6. Blogging seems to be a popular way that many workers today vent and deal with work woes. Would you advise it?

Venting can be both a helpful and harmful strategy to deal with frustration. Yes, individuals want to “get out” what’s bothering them and venting (whether through blogging or verbalizing) can be cathartic and help the person feel emotionally better, as the energy created, was discharged, however, when the same incident is vented again, it may “cement” the problem. Blogging seems to be different than journaling because of the often publicized nature. Individuals may say things they later regret and if blogged, it’s posted for others to possibly see. Additionally, venting doesn’t necessarily deal with the issue. For example, if I have a boss who has unrealistic expectations and expects me to work 12-14 hour days, venting about him doesn’t solve anything. In fact, it may reinforce my sense of helplessness and lack of control, rather than helping me seeking options to reduce these feelings and thoughts.

For more ways to handle stress and make progress in your writers' goals, sign up for Dr. Wadhwa's informative, engaging online classes starting September 6th. See www.coffeehouseforwriters.com
Okay, Pen & Prosper readers, how has stress affected your writing, or is it a non-issue? What clever ways have you found to combat it? Do tell...


  1. Writing can be stressful as can life. It depends on how we handle the stress. Are we going to walk around with a sour attitude because of a few lemons are are we going to try and make lemonade?

  2. I agree with anon! Peter writes that stress over time can cause much dis-ease in the body; the constant "fight or flight" response can really take its toll on our mental and physical well being. I used to feel stress was a motivator, but now I am realizing just how big a deterrent it can be! Personally I feel stress is a ball of energy, and it's our choice how we choose to use that ball of energy. Either put a positive spin on negative situations, or allow the stress to kill us.

  3. "Anonymous",

    I like the reference about the lemonade. Thanks for your thoughts.

  4. Peter's Page,

    Cool ball analogy. I definitely agree. Good to see you here today.;-)

  5. Good insight and tips for dealing with stress. Some weeks I handle stress better than others; it depends a lot on what else is going on in life. Always working to find the right balance. Getting closer:) Thanks to both of you for sharing.
    Happy weekend,

  6. Jennifer Brown BanksAugust 28, 2010 at 12:04 PM

    Thanks for your thoughts, Karen. I think many of us can relate.:-)

  7. Great interview Jennifer. It was really helpful to hear Dr. Wadhwa's perspective on stress. I think stress is definitely something we all have had to try and manage from time to time, and it is helpful to understand more about it.

  8. Jennifer Brown BanksAugust 28, 2010 at 5:48 PM

    Glad we could shed some light, Sibyl. I appreciate your input. :-)

  9. Greetings,

    I appreciate everyone's thoughts and feedback! Yes, stress is definitely a maze that we individual work our way through to see what works and what doesn't. There are so many ways to manage, reduce and prevent stress that it may take time to find those that work, but they are there! And it's important to keep in mind that as our lives change, the techniques may also need changing....

  10. Jennifer Brown BanksAugust 29, 2010 at 8:29 AM

    Dr. Serena,

    So true! Thank you for the "follow-up visit".:-)