Conquering Stress and Getting Organized

I’ve been really struggling with managing stress recently. I’m not going to dwell on this too much here, but as I mentioned previously, I had an MRI last month. The news was not terrible, but it wasn’t good, either—the pituitary tumor I had removed in 2014 has recurred. It is benign, so that’s good news. But if it’s left alone, it can really screw up my endocrine system, my vision, and all sorts of other fun antics. So I’m on a new regimen of medication to try to treat it; if that doesn’t work, I’ll have to get radiation.

Needless to say, I’ve been a little bit stressed.

The stress got so bad, in fact, that it was severely interfering with my ability to get any work done, or basically do much of anything apart from sit around the house having panic attacks all day. And that’s no fun. So I’ve decided to implement some changes to try to cut back on my stress, get organized, and get back on track.

First has been to cut back on social media. You may have noticed that my Twitter use has been pretty sporadic recently, and I expect it to stay that way for the foreseeable future. Some days I can handle it in bigger doses than others, but in general, social media can be a pretty stressful place and so it’s just not healthy for me to be online as much as I used to be.

The second change has been to try to implement some positive thinking in my life! After having it on my wishlist for years now, I finally used my Easter money to get a copy of James Arnold Taylor’s JAT 365: Daily Inspirations For the Pursuit of Your Dreams. It’s a workbook on positive thinking with daily prompts to help you reach your goals and I think it’s just the thing I need to help me cut down on my worry and stress and focus on what’s attainable for me every day.

Day 1 of JAT 365

And finally, continuing the theme of helping me focus on what’s attainable each day, I picked up this awesome weekly planner specifically designed for writers, designed by the fabulous Najla and Nada Qamber! In it, I’m breaking my projects, deadlines, and overall writing goals into smaller, more attainable pieces. I have a problem of being a big-picture type of person, and not necessarily seeing how every little bit of work I do on a project makes the goal a little bit closer. I’m hoping this planner will help me minimize that. On the weekly notes, I write small, manageable goals for the week. For example, this week my goals were:

  • read submissions for Circuits & Slippers
  • brainstorm chapter 5 of my WIP
  • work on Different Worlds

Notice how I said “work on” rather than giving myself a concrete word count goal. Because my health has been so touch-and-go recently, I can’t guarantee myself that I’ll reach a specific word count in a day/week/month. When I don’t reach my word count goals, I feel like a failure, and that stymies me when I try to catch up later. So I decided that any writing at all done this week will be an accomplishment—it doesn’t matter whether it was 300 or 800 or 2000, any words written at all were still progress made towards my final goal.

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The other thing is that I’m keeping track of work that I’ve done that I wouldn’t ordinarily “count” as work. Usually I only consider word count, and everything else “isn’t really work.” But it’s still stuff that needs to be done. Writing down everything I’ve done that day makes me realize that I’ve gotten more done than I gave myself credit for. Reading submissions, brainstorming, and so forth are all things that have to be done, same as writing, and they help me get to my goals as well.

Writing down everything I do each day also helps me figure out in the long run how much work I can get done in a day, week, month, so that I can give myself reasonable expectations of what I’m able to accomplish in a certain amount of time. I haven’t really kept a written record of my workload and deadlines since I quit teaching and left my lesson planner behind.

I’m kind of geekily excited about both these things, and hopeful they’ll help me get back on schedule when it comes to writing! 😀

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