The Stress of Not Writing

The Stress of Not Writing
February 20, 2017 No Comments » For Authors, Writing Advice Nancy E Miller

Stress, in general, is the reaction of the body to intense conditions around it. Could be physical, mental, or emotional. I’ve read dozens of articles about the stress of writing but none on the stress of NOT writing.  It exists and can be a huge source of depression and anxiety.

Here at, I have this weekly column, feature articles, and journal submissions. So far I have pretty much fulfilled those commitments. I admit the current political climate and my recent health issues haven’t helped…file those under ‘Life’.  Add in daily issues (and I don’t have kids), and the desire to not let my housed disintegrate around me into a pile of clutter, time to write my own fiction gets chipped away.

I’ve read comments on Facebook from authors about the intense emotions they are experiencing because life events keep them from being able to concentrate on writing. They experience feelings of sadness, irritation, sleep difficulties, frustration, confusion, inability to concentrate, and many other symptoms.

Anxiety may rise with excessive worry and/or fear. Thoughts may seem to be on a circular track, going over and over the issues at hand. Then there are the physical reactions: shaking, psoriasis, picking, and lack of appetite or overeating.

Writing is our calling, our outlet, the expression of the worlds inside our minds.  Just as others might paint, dance, sculpt, to release their expressions, we need the time and space to release ours. When we don’t then the frustration builds.  That energy MUST take other outlets, some unhealthy, in order to let off steam before the body/mind melts down.

Even among life’s stressors, we must carve out the time to calm our minds and care for ourselves. In the end, it pays off for everyone because you are a happier person. Like the old sentiment, ‘If Mama ain’t happy; ain’t nobody happy’.

I’ve been dealing with a feeling of increasing distance from my novels.  Plot ideas swarm around me and I jot them down but never seem to get started on anything longer than a short story. What to do?

  1. I am turning off the TV news shows, then the other shows that drone in the background.
  2. I work best in the afternoon. So I will schedule daily duties for the morning and make a commitment to go into my office (or wherever you can find a peaceful environment) and work.
  3. I will limit my outside writing to one day a week. Okay, maybe two if it is a journal submission and I am on a roll.
  4. I will limit my online media time. I get caught in a time-suck of Facebook, Twitter, and Groups.
  5. I will limit (not omit) my response to requests from other people for marketing, assistance, readings, and submissions. I know it is important to pass on information and assist others but when you reach the point where it takes from your work, it needs to be limited.

As I’ve told my publisher and OWS staff, I write, it’s what I do.  But the truth is I am not writing the stories I want to write.  So it is time to go back and clean house.  Sweep out the clutter so I can see what is important.

If this is happening to you, consider reading about the effects of stress and anxiety.  Continue on with ways to decrease the effects without giving in to alcohol or drugs. Restructure your life to include your writing. Carry your notebook everywhere.


Nancy E Miller Nancy E. Miller, romantic suspense author of Shark Bait and Crystal Unicorns, lives near St. Louis with her husband and three dogs, pygmy goats, chickens and a cranky rooster named Ketchup. Her degree is in Psychology and Sociology. She has worked in education and mental health as a case manager and crisis counselor.

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