Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Art of Slowing Down

First up—The Effigy blog tour keeps chugging right along and pays a visit today to author Loni Townsend where I ramble on about this one time (not at band camp) where I found some major inspiration in an unexpected place (again, not band camp). Stop by and say hi!

And now, for the main event, I'm turning the floor over to author C. Lee McKenzie as part of her blog tour for her latest release, Double Negative. She's here to talk about reducing stress for writers. Since I never, ever, feel any stress whatsoever, I—yeah, I can't even finish that sentence. Since I never, ever, feel anything but stress, I stand to learn a lot from this post.

Take it away, Lee!

Slow Down Writers

The scientific community can’t say with certainty that chronic stress causes life-threatening diseases. What they can say is people who are severely stressed are often tired and, therefore, less likely to exercise. Not healthy. Some come to rely on habits like overeating (strudel anyone?), drinking (where’s the wine?) and smoking (no temptation here, thank goodness) to “feel” more relaxed.

Anyone with a job, a mortgage, or a manuscript on submission knows how wrung out they feel at the end of a work week. I know I do. And I know how easy it is to say I’m too tired to do much of anything.

When I’m really under pressure here’s what I find helps me reduce the stress of life in general and the writing world in particular. These are things that get me up from my chair and moving. . .slowly, but surely.

Anyone who knows me can guess my first stress reducing strategy. I take a hike, then these other strategies are my back up. I cook something I really like to eat, and I do it from scratch. Spanakopita takes hours of chopping, and then there’s filo to deal with. At dinner, I light some candles and dim the overheads. It’s a mandatory, “everyone-sits-at-the-table-and-talk night.”

No matter what time of year it is, I plant some seeds. If I’m totally on my type A trip, I plant green beans. They grow almost overnight. Once I bought a fountain pen and wrote a letter with it. It’s still around here somewhere in case I need it. Of course, I leave the computer, cell phone and iPad off for at least a half hour—Well, fifteen minutes. Four? And finally, or maybe during all of this, I concentrate on my breath for a few minutes. No one can stress if they have to monitor their breathing.

Here’s to a happy and healthy writing for the rest of 2014.

Double Negative (YA)
by C. Lee McKenzie
Release date: July 25, 2014

Hutchison McQueen is a sixteen-year-old smart kid who screws up regularly. He’s a member of Larkston High’s loser clique, the boy who’s on his way to nowhere—unless juvenile hall counts as a destination. He squeaks through classes with his talent for eavesdropping and memorizing what he hears. When that doesn’t work, he goes to Fat Nyla, the one some mean girls are out to get and a person who’s in on his secret—he can barely read. 

And then Maggie happens. For twenty-five years she’s saved boys from their own bad choices. But she may not have time to save Hutch. Alzheimer’s disease is steadily stealing her keen mind.


15 comments:

  1. Go watch a movie, play with my guitar, play with my wife... all great stress relievers!

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  2. The mall. Is that weird? We have a giant mall near me that is pretty much empty in the mornings. If I really need to get away, I head over there and walk around a couple of times, then get a Starbucks frappuccino. That's my treat!

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    1. Kind of weird, Stephanie. I never find malls de-stressing, but everyone has to find her own way and congrats on finding yours.

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  3. I like to go for a walk or just listen to some music while I clean my apartment or do the dishes. Or just write something silly and pointless.

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    1. All excellent. Those breaks are so important.

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  4. I walk alone around inside a store (book stores are the best) to reduce stress. But that's usually because my children are the cause. If I can't escape my children, then a trip to the park usually helps. My daughter gets to play with random strangers her own age and I can push my son in a swing. It works out well.

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    1. Those are all things I could do to relax. Love the slow browsing through bookstores!

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  5. Stress? What's that? Oh, that massive boulder I've been under for months. Yeah, I know all about stress at the moment. Breathing is good. Some other good tips, too.

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  6. Good post! It's nice to be reminded that we all have to slow down once in a while :). If I ever need to take a break, I love to bake, watch a film or read something light-hearted (though, not all at once...well, maybe sometimes...)

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  7. I think my comment got eaten- so I will try again.

    What a great post, Lee. Stress is definitely something I can relate to and these ideas are excellent. I love to hike to reduce stress- but usually wait until the weekend because I get out of work too late. I like the idea of planting seeds!

    Wishing Lee lots of success with her tour and her book!
    ~Jess

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  8. Working out to a kickboxing video is always good stress relief for me. Cuz then I don't feel as bad if the stress then pushes me towards a mini apple pie later.

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  9. I needed to be reminded about Double Negative and how much I want to read it...

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  10. Funny, but Liz A's comment is exactly what I was going to write. Great minds! Good luck Lee! :)

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