Using Pressure To One’s Advantage As a Writer

Since I’ve been fairly immersed in pressure this week, I focused on finding more ways to channel it.

Here’s what I came up with.

Financial Pressure – Rar!

I had some writing and publishing expenses beyond my usual monthly investment. Unusual outlays of cash have always created dissonance for me as an artist, because I suddenly feel this giant Responsibility Monster Critic following me around, insisting I had better write some extra amazing things to merit those fees.

Because I’m being conscious of pressure this week, I decided to call this monster out by making a list of a few additional paying writing gigs to offset some of these expenses. No, I didn’t need to in order to be solvent. Yes, it meant more work, but it was a proactive way to dismiss the Responsibility Monster Critic, who can’t see past this month’s ledger.

I did this as a creative coping mechanism so I didn’t feel so beholden to abnormal financial commitments that I could not be creative.

Work/Life Balance Pressure – Rar!

Because of writing commitments, I had to miss out on fun weekend events. I don’t know, does J.K. Rowling ever miss a social engagement she wants to be part of?! I doubt it. This is what I actually said aloud as I moped my way over to my computer Saturday morning.

I might have continued carrying on this reluctance to adult further but this week, as stated, I’m tried to be more aware and proactive about my attitude toward all kinds of pressure. I sat and made myself feel the pressure of wanting to be in a different place (literally and figuratively!) until I had the idea to scan my several works in progress for a scene that could channel these particular articulations of angst.

Many of you do this naturally, as fiction writers. Oddly enough, this kind of in – the – moment use of my own life experience for a novel scene is not something I’ve done much of. While I want my characters, plots, and other story elements to be quite distinct from me and my life, every single element is necessarily informed by me and my life!

So when there’s nothing I can do right away about a given pressure in my life, hey, I can always capitalize on it by capturing some authentic emotion!

Deadline Pressure – Rar! Rar! Rar!

Creativity is a frustrating yet fulfilling experience and then deadlines cut all that short before it’s even run its wild course.

This week I had external deadlines I had to meet, and that felt disappointing to my creativity because there’s still so much I haven’t had time to explore on the project in question. I thought a lot about how to prevent or deal with that aspect of creating something.

I decided I needed some kind of way to let all the remaining possibilities go. Preferably something silly and overwrought! So I actually acted out removing my expert hat and putting on my ‘appreciator of all things mysterious’ hat.

This may make no sense to anyone but myself but I think I’m onto something, for me. What I mean is, when writing a novel, I’m researching, gathering, assimilating, creating, forming, and editing as though I am the expert of these people and these events and these everythings. To finish something, I’ve got to surrender all that and allow some of my topic’s potential to go undiscovered. Or I’ll never manage to finish it!

It’s a kind of payment of gratitude, that one no longer will hoard those inspirations on that topic but will instead offer them back to the ether of ideas. They are free for someone else to consider and use.

This idea helps me remember that sometimes pressure is something we can leverage. Other times, we need to change something in our life so that pressure is no longer toxic or destructive. For the types of pressure I was feeling, I found power in making choices and taking action.

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One thought on “Using Pressure To One’s Advantage As a Writer

  1. Hannah G

    Deadline pressure is practically an essential for me. To date I haven’t had much success with “in-the-moment” emotional writing. I need to process my own emotions first. Later on I’ll re-experience them a bit if I’m writing a scene similar to my experience, and I’ll use some of my internal monologue sometimes as description or dialogue, but there’s no point in trying to write while I’m actually upset about something. (I can distract myself by writing something totally different, though, but not always.)

    Like

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