Day 13: Dealing With Holiday Stress

Dec09WM13So here we are almost halfway through December and the words — my words — have been slowing down to a trickle. This week I had a problem with the number sixteen…sixteen inches of snow which translated to sixteen extra hours of commute time between driving, defrosting my car, etc. Additionally, this is my busiest season at Musicnotes.com, because we’ve got an immense collection of digital sheet music for the winter holidays that we’re highlighting to help people find the songs they want to play.

Needless to say, by the end of the week I was more than a little stressed out. So? I ordered myself a holiday gift in the form of a Doctor Who Tardis USB hub (it’s got a blinking blue light on the top and it has optional sound effects), started doing more yoga, listened to some fun audio books in the car (Life, The Universe and Everything by Douglas Adams and Servant of the Bones by Anne Rice), went on a baking spreeeeee and am currently planning my second of three random holiday gifts. On the surface, these activities might not seem like they have anything to do with writing ARGENTUM, but they really, really do.

Too much stress sucks. It sucks because it zaps your energy and makes you feel like a big pile of goo. Not enough stress also sucks, because when you’re in that shiny-happy-sunshine place (or, at least when I am) there’s no need to write because life. is. beautiful. Somewhere in the middle usually works for me. When I’m too stressed out, it definitely impacts my writing because I tend to over-think the words I’m putting down on the page, or I’m wondering what else I should be doing. Then, when I do take a moment to relax and do something for “me,” I feel guilty because I’m not writing.

I needed this weekend to remind myself of two things: one) Taking things one day at a time is probably a good thing right now and two) the volume of words isn’t as important as actually sitting down and doing it. Or, in other words, to remain focused — one foot in front of the other gets you to where you want to go.

I feel that dealing with stress is a lot like trying to get back in shape. Many people (including myself) fall off the wagon simply because after a few weeks you feel better but you’re not seeing results fast enough. Or — like in my case — something comes up that throws a wrench into “your master plan” for working out (MP, for short.) Well, this week was my nice, yet gentle reminder, that the MP means diddly squat. I reminded myself that persistence, moreso than any other skill, is the number one thing I need to focus on right now. Sure, there’s going to be roadblocks, there’s going to be distractions…heck…there might even be a few zombies or two. That’s just how it is.

After all, it’s impossible to edit a blank page. And while I have ten short stories I could be editing, the prize is this book.

Hope you’re finding a way through the holiday season…

One Response to Day 13: Dealing With Holiday Stress



Monica Valentinelli is a writer, editor, and game developer. Her portfolio includes stories, games, comics, essays, and pop culture books.

In addition to her own worlds, she has worked on a number of different properties including Firefly, Vampire: the Masquerade, Shadowrun, Hunter: the Vigil, Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn, and Robert E. Howard’s Conan.

Looking for Monica’s books and games that are still in print? Visit Monica Valentinelli on Amazon’s Author Central or a bookstore and game store near you.

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