Last week, I started a discussion on handling stress and how it affects one's creativity. This week, I'm going to share other stress reduction strategies that worked for me.
First, I have routines. Now, when I was a teenager, I thought that routines were for Muggles. I didn't need no stinkin' routine. One of the cool things about being an artist in my little pea brain was that you set your own schedule. You did not punch a time clock or work nine to five. As an artist, you could work at three in the morning if you so desired. As a teenaged artist, I was quite the idealist. I grew up. I matured. I got a life. The truth is an artist needs discipline and structure. Now, I have a schedule. My schedule is flexible. It's not a rigid Muggle kind of schedule where I catch the same subway every morning. (Actually, I think I am thousands of miles from a subway,) Anyway, I have learned that there is a great advantage in have structure to my day. In particular, I have routines. Every morning, I begin my day with coffee and morning pages and every evening, I close the day by feeding the birds, washing whatever dishes are in the sink and making the coffee for the next morning. These are my "bookends." With these in place, I am better prepared to handle whatever falls in the middle.
Then I tried to keep things in perspective. Is this the worst that will ever happen to me? No. As stressful as life seemed at times, I would remind myself of that and move on. I even developed a really hokey way to assess my situation. Say, for example, in another fifty or sixty years, when my brilliance and genius is finally recognized by the world (and I'm dead, of course) would these past few weeks merit a sentence, a paragraph a chapter or a Part, like Part III The Texas Years in my biography? Would my biographer, a fresh faced young gal from some ivy covered New England college, even know that September and October 2011 were stressful? Possibly, but unless she planned a really boring 1000 page tome, these few weeks would barely rate a sentence if at all. That's what I mean by keeping it in perspective.
So to manage stress as a creative person, I keep things in perspective, have routines, recognize when not to start new projects and accept help when offered. Finally, there's a fifth thing, use stress as inspiration. I just did.
How do you juggle stress and your creativity?