Editor’s note: This is a guest post from my friend, author Stacey Graham. Be kind and follow her links at the end, m’kay?
I write ghost stories for a living. I routinely dissect body parts, separate the last breath of life from someone who is reluctant to give it up, and have zombies get in the last pithy word before they bite your face off.
But what keeps me up at night is the stress of being a wife and mother in addition to my career as a full-time writer. Trying to juggle these very different aspects of my life has resulted in late nights not spent working on plot holes, but on how to keep my head afloat as I stare at the darkened walls of my bedroom.
I decided to take action. I’m very organized while writing nonfiction. I use mind maps and Excel to chart word count, taking the burden off of my memory and putting it in a visual medium. How could I translate this to my non-writing life?
- Calendars. I use Google calendars since it allows multiple screens for each project: family, writing deadlines, volunteer work. Each is color-coded for easy visual access, and I’m able to update or delete events easily as needed. I share certain calendars with my husband and older children so they have dates readily available on their smart phones.
- Scheduled breaks. When writing, I write for an hour, take a ten-minute break to drink a tall glass of water, and then get back to it. When the kids are home from school or on weekends, it’s more like writing for four ten-minute stretches with random mini-breaks for minor emergencies. Like finding the crested geckos (again) who have melted into the couch cushions, or more dire emergencies such as settling who gets to wear the favorite headband that day.
- Write it out. Writing gives me the freedom to act out any nefarious deeds that spring to mind, but the po-po gives you that grumpy face when you do it in real life. When you’re stressed about a problem, grab a legal pad and brainstorm ideas on how to approach it. Flowcharts, snowflake method, or tiny little sunshines – it’s all good. By having it in front of you, you’re able to take a step back and see the problem from another angle and can take action on how to resolve it. Just remember to keep the zombie horde on reserve for the really big issues.
- Give yourself a break. Take a deep breath. Now take another. Get up off of that chair and dance ‘till you feel better – or at least do a little yoga at your desk. Not only will it help relieve some stiffness, but also your butt will look great in no time.
What’s your tip to de-stress?
Stacey Graham is the author of the upcoming Haunted Stuff: Demonic Dolls, Screaming Skulls, and Other Creepy Collectibles (August 8, 2014) and The Boxcar Children Guide to Adventure: A How-To for Mystery Solving, Make-It-Yourself Projects, and More (September 1, 2014), plus the Girls’ Ghost Hunting Guide and the infamous Zombie Tarot. Please visit her website, Twitter, and on Facebook.