Wednesday, May 4, 2016

7 Secrets to Writing While Stressed

By Barbara White Daille

Hello, Seekers! I’m so happy to be back to visit with y’all again. My contributions to the community table are an Apple Spice Coffeecake and Chocolate-Chip Croissants. I always love the menu here, especially when there are items that double as dessert.

Dessert is not only my favorite meal, but desserts spelled backward is…our topic for today.

In roughly the thirty days before I began drafting this post, my personal life took a nosedive. We needed to leave the state for a week-long trip for a family funeral, spent a day in a hospital Emergency Room, and dealt with a family member’s illness and the doctor visits, follow-up appointments, and medical testing that went along with it. During this time, I was working on two complete novels and one proposal, each with its own deadline. While this doesn’t make me an expert in stress, it definitely gives me a good understanding of what it’s like to experience the symptoms.

Here’s a clip of a woman under a different kind of stress, thanks to the ex-husband who has just reappeared in her life. This is from my upcoming book in The Hitching Post Hotel series, Cowboy in Charge:

Layne did the best she could with toothbrush and mouthwash and comb, but it wasn’t much. And it was quick.
The symptoms she had been battling for two days now had gotten worse instead of better, and the short time on her feet showed her just how shaky this flu had left her. She gave thanks that when she had gone to answer the door, she hadn’t been holding the baby.
The last thing she remembered before passing out was the look of alarm on Jason’s face. When she had come to, she found herself cradled like a baby herself in his arms. She had fainted for only a second, he assured her. Still, ignoring her protests, he carried her into the small living room and deposited her on the couch.
Moments later, her stomach had heaved and she had bolted and here she was now, hiding in her bathroom the way she and her friends had hidden in the girls’ room at school when they wanted to exchange gossip about the boys.
The only boy she’d ever had eyes for was Jason.

We all deal with stress at one time or another. Here are some secrets—or suggestions, if you prefer—for ways to get your work done while you’re under the gun. These secrets can work just as well for non-writers, too. Also, they’re numbered for clarity but are in no particular order. I tell you this because if you’re like me, you’ll stress over wanting to do the “steps” in the proper sequence!

1) Play with your process.

When under stress, consider making changes to your writing process. (Note:  if the idea alone sends your blood pressure up, skip immediately to another suggestion.)

If you write in the afternoon, try sneaking the pages in early in the morning, before the day hits you and the stress level rises. If you usually do a comprehensive bio for every character in your book, do interviews with just the main characters instead and go from there.

Pantsers might need to give their tired brains the safety net of an outline, no matter how rough. Plotters who normally plan every scene down to the very last detail may find their brains are too scattered to follow their strict process. They may have better luck winging it, at least for a few pages at a time.

2) Be kind to yourself.

This is a no-brainer, especially on those days when you feel you have no brain cells left. Sleep more, eat well, give your body time to relax. Stretch, meditate, take breaks from the computer. Listen to the music of your choice, curl up with a good book, or take your baby or puppy for a walk in the park. Do whatever works to help you unwind.

3) Shake up your schedule.

When you’re under stress, it’s okay to mix things up and even to let some things slide. Have scrambled eggs for dinner one night instead of making the usual meat-veg-potatoes meal. Hit the snooze button once, or maybe twice, and get a few extra minutes of sleep. Skip the trip to the gym one day and jog around the block. While you’re at it, stop to smell the roses.

4) Use your writing time as an escape.

This is a tough one for many of us. As it is, we feel guilty that our writing takes time away from the family/pets/carpool/problems/fill-in-the-blank. And now I’m asking you to use that time deliberately as an escape? You bet I am.

Diving into a work-in-progress will help take your mind off your troubles. If you’re on deadline, whether self-imposed or for a publisher, writing—even a paragraph or two a day, if that’s all you can manage—will keep your head in the story. Watching those page numbers go up lets you see you’re getting closer to your goal. And as you increase your page count, you’ll decrease your stress…in the moment and down the road.

5) Use your experiences as fodder for your book.

Any stressful situation has the potential to be tweaked to fit a scene in a story. An angry phone call to lodge a consumer complaint can translate to an explosive scene with a troublesome teenaged son or daughter. Being pulled over by a state trooper for speeding might spark an idea for a heroine being followed by a stalker.

6) Mine your emotions.

I’m not saying we should whip out a notebook at a wake, but the emotions we feel in that situation could very well be appropriate for a heroine who is losing a parent to cancer. Having to make a speech yourself could provide just the case of nerves you need for your hero who is preparing to ask for a raise.

7) Reward yourself.

While being kind to yourself includes mostly no-cost options, if you have the extra cash to give yourself rewards, go for it. You deserve it. A massage or a yoga class literally, physically, can relieve stress. A movie can act as a mini-vacation for your mind. A new dress—or business planner—may lift your spirits and will still be around long after your stress is gone. Fresh roses or that cup of gourmet coffee are considered aromatherapy!


In this clip from the opening of one of my books, A Rancher’s Pride, I made life extra-stressful for my hero:

Everything looked familiar, except the child sitting on one of the couches.
A beautiful little girl.
The daughter he’d always hoped for, the start of the family he’d never had.
He shook his head. Pipe dreams, for sure. Ronnie had never told a true story in her life. This child couldn’t be his.
The girl’s eyes shone in the light from the table lamp beside the couch. Silver-gray eyes surrounded by dark lashes, a perfect match to his own.
His throat tightened. He felt frozen in place.
She gave him a shy smile.
He’d seen that half-twisted grin in plenty of his own childhood pictures. Not impossible after all. The child was his.
 “Hello.”  The word came out in a croak. He hadn’t the first idea of what to say and went for the standard opening line. “What’s your name?”
Mom moved up to stand behind him and rested her hand on his arm. “Her name’s Becky,” she told him. “But she can’t hear you, Sam. She’s deaf.”


I hope you find the examples and suggestions above helpful.

Have any of these ideas worked for you in the past?  Do you have any other suggestions for us?  Answer one of these questions to get your name in a drawing for one of my books!

The winner will receive her/his choice of an autographed print copy of A Rancher’s Pride or The Cowboy’s Little Surprise, book one in The Hitching Post Hotel series. (US mailing addresses, please.)  One of the villagers here at Seekerville will draw and announce the winner’s name.

About the Author:
Barbara White Daille lives with her husband in the sunny Southwest. Though they love the warm winters and the lizards in their front yard, they haven’t gotten used to the scorpions in the bathroom.
A larger print reissue of A Rancher’s Pride, book one in Barbara’s popular Flagman’s Folly series, releases in June exclusively from Harlequin. The next book in The Hitching Post Hotel series is Cowboy in Charge, debuting in July 2016, with other books in the series to follow. At the end of 2016, she begins a new sweet romance series for Entangled Bliss.
You can find more info about Barbara and her books at the following locations:

From the cover of Cowboy in Charge, July 2016

Single mom Layne Slater thought she'd seen the last of Jason McAndry when he chose the rodeo over her and their unborn son. Now Jason's back in Cowboy Creek and just as handsome as ever. But Layne can't give in to those feelings again. She has to protect her children…and her heart. 
Jason wants to try to make up for the pain he caused when he left. The least he can do is help Layne while he's home. Before long, Jason realizes he's finally ready to be the husband, father and man his family deserves. But can Jason prove to Layne that this time, their love is forever?


  1. Great post, Barbara! I really enjoyed it. My hubby is a politician. Live is frequently stressful.

    I would love to be put down for a chance to win a copy of your book, A Rancher's Pride. As one who works with the deaf and hard of hearing daily, I always enjoy books where deafness comes into play.

  2. Thanks for the insightful post, Barbara. Lots of great suggestions to try.

    I'm sorry for all you've been dealing with. I hope this month is a better one for you.

  3. Thank you for the great tips, Barbara. I'm sorry to hear about your recent difficulties. Hopefully things will settle down for you and your family.
    I need to focus on #2. Often, I feel guilty when I try to enjoy "me" time.

  4. Hi Barbara,

    Thanks for sharing these great tips. I'm sorry for your stress and hope May will be better!

  5. Hi Barbara:

    I believe I have tried all your stress reducing methods and all have worked at times. Sometimes one works alone, sometimes several are needed. But stress is a hydra with many heads!

    I think there are many types of stress and each is like to respond best to different approaches at different times at stress reduction.

    There is grief related stress. A belief in God is a strong remedy for this.

    There is stress from physical pain because of sickness and injury and this may best be dealt with employing various types of pain management.

    There is stress from problems totally outside our control which we didn't cause and can't fix. Faith and philosophy may help here. I prefer to pray using positive affirmations as done in the Unity faith. I also often take comfort in the "this too shall pass" philosophy expressed by Paul and Timothy:

    “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4: 17-18

    Even those who are alone in the world can have a friend in Jesus.

    I also believe that developing a Stoic philosophy is a practical way to combat 'the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to' and even more: an Eastern zen-like ability to still the mind and quiet existence can help bring peace in a sea of troubles.

    Fortunately we have many ways to deal with stress -- for where there is no stress, there is no life.

    From this vast cafeteria of many choices we need only select those solutions which bring peace and a more productive daily word count. : )

    Above all, I'm a pragmatist!

    Please place me in the drawing for one of your books!

    Thanks for your post today.


  6. Good Morning, Barbara and welcome back.

    You are so right about stress and I hope yours is easing!

    I just LOOOVE the Cowboy in Charge cover. Is that a Harlequin American? The banner says Western Romance.

    And congratulations on the Entangled Bliss release coming up!

  7. BARBARA, welcome back to Seekerville! Thanks for the great suggestions for handling stress while writing. Love your suggestion to record the feelings/reactions that stress created in us and use them to heighten the emotion in our stories.

    Your books sound great! Love the hunky heroes on your covers.

    The coffeecake and croissants are yummy!


  8. BARBARA, hope your stress is easing. I'm impressed that you handled all those deadlines in the midst of it.


  9. VINCE, sometimes in the midst of trouble, we can't see an end. Your reminder that "This too shall pass" and that in the midst of stressful circumstances we're never alone is reassuring. Thanks for sharing these great truths.


  10. HELLO, Seekerville! I'm here and looking forward to chatting with you all.

    I'm on deadline - yes, more stress ;) - so will be popping in and out to chat and respond to comments.

    Let me grab my tea and a croissant and start reading!

  11. Hi, Dana - thank you for being #1 today. :) I'm glad you enjoyed the post.

    Wow, I can't imagine how stressful it must be to live in the world of politics. You could probably give us all tips.

    Good luck in the drawing!

    1. Thanks. Praying your stress eases a little. That's a lot to have theown at you at once.

  12. Hi, Keli - thanks so much. Things have definitely been looking better in the past few weeks, I'm happy to say.

    Hope some of the suggestions work for you!

  13. I used a family trauma as fodder for my story--not the trauma itself, but the emotions.

  14. Hi, Jill - things are looking up, as I just mentioned to Keli above.

    I'm glad you liked the tips.

    Like #4, #2 is a hard one. It seems wrong to walk away from a stressful situation or just to take a break, especially when people are depending on us to help them through. But often, taking the time to refresh and recharge is the best thing we can do for all of us. Hope that helps lessen the guilt!


    WONDERFUL BLOG, my friend, and I especially like #1 -- Play With Your Process. You said: If you write in the afternoon, try sneaking the pages in early in the morning, before the day hits you and the stress level rises."

    This has actually worked wonders for me!!

    I had to laugh at your #2 -- Be kind to yourself. My hubby says I am my own worst enemy and never cut myself any slack. :|

    By the way, you sure have some hunky guys on your covers -- do you have any say in the models they choose?


  16. Hi, Vince - thanks for the comments. You're so right, stress is just a part of life, and if there is no stress, there is no life.

    That was also a great reminder that not everything works in every situation.

    Also, not all stress is bad.

    Here's a lesser-known definition of stress (from Merriam-Webster):

    archaic: intense effort or exertion

    Looked at that way, even the pleasurable things we want to do - such as writing - can give us a form of stress. A good form, in those cases. (Which is not to say writing can't be stressful at times!)

    I tried to - and hope I was successful in - giving lots of food for thought. I'm looking forward to learning more from everyone today, too.

  17. Hi, Tina - yes, the banner now reads Harlequin Western. That's the new name for Harlequin American.

    The changeover is effective July 2016 - which just happens to be when Cowboy in Charge debuts.

    Thanks re the cover - I love it, too!

  18. Janet - thanks so much. I'm just thrilled to be back here to visit.

    I appreciate the comment about my books. I'm with you - I kinda love the hunky heroes, too. ;)

    Great point to Vince - I meant to agree with the "This too shall pass" statement, also.

    Re the deadlines - once those went away, more took their places. I need to re-read my post!

  19. Vonie - that's it EXACTLY!

    We can use the basis of events and emotions, as long as we change the names - and the actual incidents - to protect the innocent. ;)

  20. I found myself in a stressful situation in March when my body rebelled and I ended up in the hospital. It was difficult to do all I wanted with all my various writing projects. I ended up not being able to enter the Genesis contest but told myself there is always next year and maybe I will have it in better shape in a year's time.

    As the Seekers know--I came up with a scene for my wip while in the hospital. While in the ER there was a squeaking door that was so annoying when I was feeling so sick. Later on while editing a book I wrote last year I put in a squeaking door when the main character ended up in the hospital.

    through the years I have learned that walking is an excellent way to relieve stress.

    I am doing much better physically now and my word count and editing is soaring.

    Thank you for sharing these tips. Please enter me in the drawing.

  21. Welcome, Barbara! Such great advice here. We can't avoid stress, but as writers we certainly can make creative use of it!

    The tip that helps me the most is #2, Be kind to yourself. When I'm under stress, it only makes things worse if I load myself down with even more pressure because I'm not accomplishing what I set out to do. Many of the things that stress us out aren't really all that earth-shattering, and sometimes we need to just step back and regain some perspective.

  22. Hi, Julie - always great to see you!

    So glad you've already found one of these tips helpful.

    I'm LOLing too about your husband's statement. I think many women are their own worst enemies. Maybe keeping this post and all the comments handy, with so many reasons we *need* to relax, will let you cut yourself some slack. :)

    As far as the cover models, no, I haven't had any input. I *did* get to "meet" the hero from my latest release, The Lawman's Christmas Proposal, on Twitter though. That was a great surprise!

    Don't know if I can C&P a cover here...

  23. Well, cut and paste didn't work. Maybe a link will.

    If anyone's interested in seeing the hero/cover model (mentioned in my last comment, to Julie):

    And I'll be back a bit later. Keep those comments and ideas coming!

  24. Hey Barbara!
    I love your reminder for, "4) Use your writing time as an escape."
    And I'm also one of those who feels that guilt thing sometimes about my writing time. :)

    Writing while stressed, well there's stress and there's stress, so I know it can be tough, but it seems like everyday is stressful in the writing world.

  26. All of these are great suggestions. It's a hard balance. I really liked the idea of using your experiences. Readers can connect and we can laugh together at the antics we go through just to get some quality time with spouse, child, or self. I'm glad you found the balance. Just promise to keep writing.


  27. Good morning, Barbara and welcome back! Stress is something that if you're not under it at the moment while trying to write, consider yourself fortunate -- and recognize that you'll get your fair share at some OTHER point in time. LOL

    So having these great tips in our "arsenal" for those "point in times" will be so helpful. I should probably summarize them on an index card and post them at my desk! Being kind to and rewarding yourself are so important as many of us tend to beat ourselves up with negative mental chatter when we need to say a prayer and take a deep breath instead.

    Boy, they sure do give you fabulous covers -- that "Cowboy in Charge" is so heartwarming!! I love the name of your new series -- Hitching Post Hotel sounds like a neat setting. :)

  28. Thank you for your timely post, Barbara. I've tried a lot of these tips already and they work. Especially changing things up on a normal routine. But the one thing I found that works best is just keeping your head in the story during times when you're unable to write.

    I love your excerpt for A Rancher's Pride. I can't wait to read it. Thanks for sharing your experience today.

    The cinnamon coffee cake was delicious. Thanks for bringing the treats.

  29. Thank you for your timely post, Barbara. I've tried a lot of these tips already and they work. Especially changing things up on a normal routine. But the one thing I found that works best is just keeping your head in the story during times when you're unable to write.

    I love your excerpt for A Rancher's Pride. I can't wait to read it. Thanks for sharing your experience today.

    The cinnamon coffee cake was delicious. Thanks for bringing the treats.

  30. Barbara -- I love the pic on your website of the little cowgirl looking through the porch railing. So sweet! Stock photo -- or someone you know?

  31. Wilani - so sorry to hear about your hospital stay. I'm glad you're doing much better.

    Good for you for making lemonade out of lemons and finding some writing inspiration during such a bad time.

    And you're so right - walking *is* an excellent stress-reliever.

    I could write another blog post based on the list I keep of all the benefits to walking!

  32. Barbara...great advice! I know. I think I've tried them all. For the last two months, though, I've changed my writing environment. Rather than staying in my office and staring at the wall, I've been sitting on my sofa with my legs propped up. A change of pace does wonders for the creative mind.

    Both of your stories sound so interesting. Throw my name in the cowboy hat for either one of them. :)

  33. Hi, Myra! Glad you enjoyed the post.

    Perspective is key. I can catastrophize like crazy over something that, in the long run, isn't such a big deal at all.

    Taking some alone time helps us decompress, so we're better able to face whatever comes along. Hope that helps somewhat with the guilt.

  34. Hi Barbara And welcome back to Seekerville. Always fun to have you visit.

    Great list of ideas. Since I've been under several stressful situations (who hasn't???) I can so relate. I love the part of taking care of yourself. That is so often forgotten, esp when you are taking care of others. So important too.

    I love the idea of using your writing as an escape. Yep. Great point and it will surely get done that way. smile

    Have fun today. And thanks for the yummy treats also.

  35. Megan - #4 is very important to us all, especially when we have deadlines - and other major life commitments - to handle along with the additional stress.

    In the interest of saving my wrists some stress today ;) please see my comments above to a few people regarding guilt!

  36. Vince Yes, yes, the faith factor is a certain must in handling stressful situations. And you are right. There are so many different kinds of stress.

    One thing that I've learned about these situations is that they certainly build up your dependence upon God and your faith.

    Much like we do to our characters--give them trouble to develop their character arc. sigh. Guess that is what happens to us as well. LOL

  37. Wilani Love that you put that squeaking door in your wip.

    And I'm with you. Walking is one of my best stress reliefs also. That and pickleball. I think any exercise is good for stress.

  38. I seem to get more stuff done under deadline, but last week as my departure from Arizona loomed, all I wanted to do was ignore it. But that too passed, and I survived. Thanks for the great reminders on how to deal with stress.

  39. BONUS TIP #1

    TO ALL -

    Guilt at taking time for ourselves by escaping into writing (or doing other things for ourselves to help ease stress) seems to be a big issue, as I knew it would be. But I can't stress enough (!) how important it is to decompress.

    When I sold my first book, the manuscript was due at the same time my dad was in hospice. He wasn't conscious, and my family and I took turns staying with him in his room. While I was there alone with him...I was writing my deadline book.

    Did I feel guilty? Do I really need to answer that?

    Did I cry most of the time I was drafting the book? Same question as above.

    I was a wreck. But I can tell you this. We had gone through a similar situation with my mother just a couple of years before, and those memories made this time even harder to bear.

    Having that book to write saved my sanity.

    DO NOT let the guilt get you. Escape into writing. Take time out. Do whatever you need to do to decompress. As I said in the post and comment(s) above, that will be the best thing you can do for yourself and for everyone around you.

  40. Mary - I'm so glad you took notes because THERE WILL BE A TEST!

    Not that anybody should get stressed over it... lol

    And yes, there is stress all around us, sometimes in the smallest, most unexpected things. That's why I tried to give as many suggestions as I could and hope others will let us know what works for them.

  41. Thanks, Nan. If there's one thing for certain, I'll never stop writing!

    I'm glad the suggestions are helpful.

    It's so true - managing stress *is* a hard balance. But it can be done.

    Also, though the blog post is geared toward tough, sad situations related to stress, of course we can use all our experiences to write happy and funny events and emotions, too.

    Thanks for dropping by!

  42. Thanks for the suggestions Barbara.

    Over the last year or two both of parent's health have declined. Not only does that mean the actual time spent takes away from writing, but also the emotional drain. What a great idea to put those emotions/stresses into my story.

    And your stories sound cute. The cowboy not only realizing he's a dad, but also he girl is deaf. You've already captured my interest in only a few paragraphs.

  43. Loved the book excerpts and of course number 2- Be Kind to Yourself has been my mantra since I had my twin daughters 23 yrs ago!! Not always the easiest thing to do but the one action really impacts the entire family!


  44. BARBARA SCOTT said: "A change of pace does wonders for the creative mind."

    Wow, this was so true for me last week! The weather was so pleasant that I took my laptop out to the screen porch every day. Most days I doubled my usual word count, and the last day it actually tripled!

    Unfortunately, it got stormy this week, and today is much chillier again, so I've been back in my upstairs office. At least I have a window with a lovely view of the backyard.

  45. Hi, Glynna - thanks so much. I'm having a blast writing about matchmaker Grandpa Jed and the Hitching Post Hotel.

    And I've been sooooo lucky with my covers!

    Putting the tips on index cards to have handy is an excellent idea. I have so many stickies around my computer, they make a picture frame. lol

  46. Hi, Renee - my pleasure on the treats! :)

    Thanks for your kind words about A Rancher's Pride. I'm supposed to love all my books - and I do. ;) So I'll just say that's one of the ones near and dear to my heart.

    Yes, exactly right - while we're forced to spend so much time away from the WIP...or our minds are just too tied up with worry to think...adding only a few sentences can help keep the story in our heads.

  47. Hi, again, Glynna - the little girl in the cowboy hat from my website header is from a stock photo. Isn't she the sweetest???

    Unfortunately, she may go away soon.

    As I'm going to be writing non-cowboy books for Entangled Bliss - as well as continuing the cowboys for Harlequin - I'm probably going to redo that header.

  48. Barbara
    Thanks for your good post. I love all of the suggestions for relieving stress. I'm glad you didn't include sitting down with a pint of your favorite ice cream and a spoon! The lure of of that sweet, creamy frozen stuff is almost unbearable!

    I can't speak for any of the men out there but women are professionals at dealing with stress. We deal with our own stress and we absorb stress for our families. I can probably start the never ending list of ways we receive stress. But I think as a gender we're pretty good at managing stress.

    When I start feeling over loaded I look around my environment - physical and mental - and start off loading the junk I've accumulated - too many projects - random email sources - guilt - to much internet time - you name it. It sort of attaches itself to us without us being aware. So I start casting that junk over board like a person who's trying to avoid ship wreck.

    But the one thing that keeps me from getting hysterical and casting the wrong things over board is my relationship with God. Time with Him keeps things in perspective and it keeps getting better.

    I sure hope the health issues resolve in your life because they certainly are huge stress inducers. Blessings and thanks again for your post.

  49. I'm going offline for a couple of hours due to a previous appointment.

    Yes, scheduling conflicts can add to our stress!

    See you as soon as I get back.

  50. I loved your suggestions for relieving stress, Barbara. The one that is hard for me is to write as an escape. I haven't tried that one before,but maybe I need to. :)

    Sometimes, when I'm stressed, I take a walk and pray and think about a part of my story that I'm stuck on, or the scene I'm going to write next, or I think on some knot in my story. Sometimes, surprising twists come from those walks. :)

  51. Hi, Barbara! What a great post. I find that I'm an overachiever and want to accomplish a lot in a short time, but I'm also a one-thing-at-a-time isolationist. So that creates stress when I can't focus on all the different projects on my desk. I find sometimes I have to work on projects in chunks, one this day and another that day so the focus is there and I don't feel the weight of "all the things" pressing all the time. Thanks for all the great tips!

  52. Thanks Barbara, for the tips about dealing with stress. I know I don't do too well with handling stress. All your tips sound so doable. I also love your excerpts. Now I really want to read both books (so many great books, so little time...).

    I'm always learning something new here at Seekerville. Yay!

  53. Welcome back, Barbara! We've just found out we're going to be moving, so I'm feeling the stress right now. :) It's also why I haven't been around as much as usual!

    I loved your idea of changing up your writing methods. May try that!

  54. Barbara, thanks for the tips on turning down the stress in our lives! Funny, but true story. I was pushing to finish a book that I thought was due in a month. Big stress level. One night, I checked my official due date and found I was a month off. Such a reprieve to have extra time to write that story.

    Love the excerpts from your book. Your "She's deaf" line hit me hard! Great writing!

  55. Barbara, I loved your advice! :) Especially to see writing as an escape. I'm in the middle of preparations for my eldest daughter's graduation from high school so you bet I'm gonna harness those emotions when I'm a bumbling, bawling mess. :)

  56. Okay, I'm back! I think I'm picking up at the right place.

    I'm working in order, but if I miss your comment to me, please know it was an oversight and give me a holler.

  57. Dana - thank your for the prayer.

    It was a lot to go through in just a few weeks.

    I know people who deal successfully with more. It gives me hope that if we hold onto some of the blog ideas for combatting stress, we can all hang in there when we need to.

  58. Hello to Barbara from Barbara.

    YES! Changing up your environment, whether from one room to another or from the house to the local coffee shop, can make a big difference.

    So can changing what you use to write - computer, laptop, iPad, notebook (the lined paper kind!), etc. can all give us a different "feel" when we're writing.

    Thanks for the comment and for the compliment about my books!

  59. Sandra - great to see you here! It's always fun to visit Seekerville.

    You're welcome for the treats.

    The idea about taking care of US is so important, especially if we're dealing with something like caring for loved ones going through health issues or kids needing extra attention.

    As with needing to refill the well for our writing, we need to recharge our batteries for our day-to-day living.

  60. Marianne - you're very welcome.

    Packing up for a long trip is enough to add to anybody's stress!

    Everything does pass, eventually.

  61. Nan O'Berry! Welcome to Seekerville!!

  62. MISSY, moving can be so, so stressful--believe me, I've done it often enough to know! Hang in there!

  63. I am determined that one of these days I am going on a retreat/escape all by myself. Someplace where chores and such cannot call my name :)

  64. Connie - my sympathy on your parents' health issues. It's a worry whether we have other stress factors in our life or not.

    Channeling our emotions into the writing really can help.

    Thanks for making my day with your comment about A Rancher's Pride! I hope to please my readers, always, and I'm glad the excerpt caught your interest.

  65. WILANI, I'm so glad you're feeling better and making progress on your writing. Yay!


  66. S.T. - I can't imagine the fun and good stress of having twins!

    I'm writing a book right now with triplet infants, and it's stressing me enough even though it's only fiction. lol

    You're right, being kind to ourselves isn't always easy. But as I said a few times above, being kind and ditching the guilt are both MUSTS.

    Glad you enjoyed the excerpts.

  67. By the way, Barbara,

    What a punch opening and hook this is..just excellent. Brava!

    Everything looked familiar, except the child sitting on one of the couches.
    A beautiful little girl.
    The daughter he’d always hoped for, the start of the family he’d never had.
    He shook his head. Pipe dreams, for sure. Ronnie had never told a true story in her life. This child couldn’t be his.
    The girl’s eyes shone in the light from the table lamp beside the couch. Silver-gray eyes surrounded by dark lashes, a perfect match to his own.
    His throat tightened. He felt frozen in place.
    She gave him a shy smile.
    He’d seen that half-twisted grin in plenty of his own childhood pictures. Not impossible after all. The child was his.
    “Hello.” The word came out in a croak. He hadn’t the first idea of what to say and went for the standard opening line. “What’s your name?”
    Mom moved up to stand behind him and rested her hand on his arm. “Her name’s Becky,” she told him. “But she can’t hear you, Sam. She’s deaf.”

  68. Barbara F - I'm smiling about the ice cream. I could have done the entire post with suggestions like that one - but I'll bet I would not be invited back to Seekerville. :)

    Love that image of tossing things overboard to avoid a shipwreck. I do this periodically, and often after a book goes in. While I'm writing, tunnel vision keeps me from seeing the accumulation (both visual and electronic), but once I hit Send and look around the house - BOOM. Stress.

    Women *are* experts in dealing with and taking on stress, which is part of the reason I really emphasize all those things like "me" time, escaping, etc. We can't nurture anyone if our own resources are depleted.

  69. MISSY, change adds stress to our lives, even changes we welcome. Moving is a lot of work and usually there's a deadline. Take care of you! Delegate, solicit or hire help. The worst for me is getting rid of stuff. I'm not a hoarder but I'm sentimental and hang onto things that remind me of people or events.


  70. Jeanne - I highly recommend the escape! :) If you can't do it for yourself, think of it as something for your loved ones.

    I mentioned guilt a few times above, but see my Tip #1 comment. If I can escape under those circumstances, I think anyone could. My hope is that you and everyone else here are not dealing with stress like that.

    But as we all know, this is life, and sad things are going to happen. It's good to be able to sit down when we can and give ourselves an immediate escape hatch.

    Combining prayer or meditation is a great way to relax the mind and have ideas flow.

  71. Ohhh, Barbara. The cover of Cowboy in Charge is a stress-reliever in itself!

    I can attest to the value of changing up a schedule. For a couple of weeks, I had the luxury of being able to walk away from writing after some unusually stressful situations. The only thing I did that was even remotely connected to writing was to read the latest book by a favoite author. I was enjoying myself so much, I grew concerned I might never return to writing. But I have, and I've done so with a love of writing I haven't experienced in a long time. I'm also able to see my WIPs more clearly, which is both good and bad :-)

    Glad to hear some of the stressors in your life have eased. And congratulations on these releases and the upcoming series for Entangled Bliss. There can never be too many sweet romances!

    Nancy C

  72. Hi, Natalie! I'm also an overachiever and an isolationist (as well as a perfectionist). It's not easy to turn off part of our minds when we see things piling up around us. But I find if I don't focus on one thing, I get lost jumping from this project to that e-mail to those checks I need to write.

    Compartmentalizing by doing certain things on certain days is a great way to lessen the stress by giving us forward motion in other areas.

    Sounds like you've found the perfect answer!

    Maybe I should try that with housework.... ;)

  73. Myra, I'll probably be calling on you for advice!

    Janet, I am a packrat! So it'll make it difficult to clear stuff out. I'm sure y'all will hear me whining about it around here as I dig in! LOL

  74. Tina, I know how to ignore those chores! Just ask my dust bunnies. I'll teach you. ;)

  75. DebH - Seekerville is an awesome site.

    I don't do well with stress, either, which is why I've come up with so many coping tips. :)

    Thanks for the comments about the books. If you do pick them up (or any of my books), I hope you enjoy them!

  76. Oh, Missy - I don't envy you! Moving adds entire layers of stress, as you know. sounds like the perfect time to change up your writing methods. Since you're trying something new, the brain will focus on that and not realize you're pulling a fast one to distract it from the moving chaos. lol

    And this tip is an oldie but goodie you may already have heard about - when you pack, mark the boxes with the name of the room they're going into. That will make it much easier for the movers - and you.

    I haven't moved that many times, so when I heard that tip it was new to me and a great help.

  77. Hi,Barbara! All your suggestions are really helpful, I particularly like the one about rewarding yourself! A Dove chocolate would help my stress level.

  78. Debby - wow, that is a funny true story. Lucky you. With my luck, I'd be off but in the opposite direction. You must have been so happy to have the reprieve.

    Glad you enjoyed the tips.

    Thanks so much for the compliments about the excerpts - I'm honored!

  79. Hi, Barbara! Thanks for all the helpful suggestions. I especially like the one reward yourself! Dove chocolate help relieve my stress.

  80. I eat when stressed and have the hips to prove it. So my plan is to keep my cupboard and fridge free of carbs. I am now chewing on celery. Highly unsatisfying.

  81. Hey, Sharee - I'm so glad you liked the tips!

    Congrats to you and your daughter.

    The emotions from that event will be one of those wonderful life experiences that make great fodder for a book.

    The "bumbling, bawling mess" evoked emotion in me, and I've never had a child graduate from high school. But that's *exactly* the point - readers use their own experiences and emotions as filters when they read a book!

  82. Tina - your retreat sounds perfect!

    I'd ask to go along, but I guess that would defeat your purpose. lol

  83. Tina again - thanks a bunch!

    I will confess I love that first-meet scene. And I still feel guilty for putting poor Sam and little Becky through so much after that. lol

  84. Janet - re holding onto things that have sentimental value. I've heard some people take photos and then donate or pass along the items so others can enjoy them, too.

    It might not be the answer for everything we hold onto, but it might work for some of the items.

  85. BONUS TIP #2

    TO ALL -


    When we're stressed, sometimes the appetite is the first thing to go. I won't type the long, long list of why skipping meals is so bad for our bodies. But I will tell you this: it's bad for our brains.

    There are many complications that occur when we don't eat for long periods of time. For us, one of the biggest and baddest is fuzzy-brain. How can we write (or balance a checkbook or figure out the week’s menu) when we can't think clearly? eat more when you're stressed? So do I. But *what* do you eat? When you let yourself get ravenous, what do you grab first? Healthy fruits and veggies and protein? Or junk food filled with fat and sugar? (I'm not confessing to which one I do. But I'll bet you can guess.)

    So...wake up your brain. Fuel your body.

    EAT. Sensibly and regularly.

    And on that note, as I'm getting a bit fuzzy-brained myself, I'm headed off to lunch! See you in a bit.

  86. Stress is a way of life, isn't it? So sorry for yours! Hope things get better! I'm a reader so I love to read posts like yours and get the scoop on how writers become better writers! I enjoy the fruits of their labors!!! I've read your Hitching Post books and enjoyed them! This cover is darling!

  87. Speaking of stress I cannot tell you how often I do silent Lamaze Breathing Techniques (learned because I gave birth in that odd STONE AGE between ether for child birth and epidural blocks. NATURAL CHILDBIRTH)
    Anyway, my life slaps me in situations with surprising frequency when I need to trot out the old controlled breathing, conscious relaxation techniques. Usually to keep me in a chair in some 'event' or other when I want only to escape.

  88. It also works well with the dentist and, as I recall, when dealing with teenaged daughters.

  89. I pity the new generation of mothers who, thanks to epidurals, have NO TOOLS to deal with life.

  90. LOL, MARY, I've been know to use Lamaze breathing, too. :) Yes, definitely at the dentist.

  91. Nancy/Chill - lol at your opening lines! Thanks so much. I'm pretty happy with that cover, too. ;)

    In a perfect world, the breaks from our writing would never be for too long, which is why all those suggestions about me time and taking it easy can be helpful. They give our brains the chance to take a short break and then bounce back.

    On the other's not a perfect world, and sometimes walking away for a while is the best thing at the time. The writing will be there when we're ready.

    And as you saw, we can feel even better about it when we come back.

    Thanks for the congrats about the upcoming books. As I tell my husband, writing them keeps me busy and out of trouble. ;)

  92. Cara - as I'm a huge fan of chocolate, a Dove would definitely do the trick. Also Hershey's Kisses. I'm a big believer in those, too.

    But as I said above, if I listed chocolate and other goodies in my post, the villagers would never want me back. :)

    I'm glad you liked the post!

  93. Valri - thank you for the good wishes - and for the mention of the Hitching Post books. I'm so glad you like the stories and appreciate your sharing that. You have just made my afternoon! :)

    I'm like you. I also love to read about how other writers handle the writing life and everything, good and bad (such as stress), that goes along with it.

  94. Mary and Myra - I have a dental appointment coming up. I should try the breathing! lol

  95. I think I'm caught up for now. If I missed you, holler out again.

    See you later!

  96. Very timely, Barbara. Thanks for sharing! My mantra right now is "20 minutes is better than nothing."

  97. What a stinkin' wonderful post, Barbara.... and I am so in awe of your wonderful career. You have a rare and wonderful talent for drawing the reader right into your stories and making them cheer the hero and heroine on to their future.

    So very well done!

    I am all over the chocolate chip croissant. I had my first chocolate croissant in Arizona this past week, and there wasn't enough filling in it to work for me. I love a croissant really stuffed... you know, to bursting!

    So that was not impressive, but this post sure was, and I bet your chocolate chip version is marvelous!

  98. Play with your process has worked for me. For example, I might brainstorm ideas, work on new scenes, hone older scenes, or reassess what to work on next by reading/reorganizing my chaotic ideas file. I don't always write chronologically, so I can skip ahead to a scene I'm really excited about when progress on other parts starts to drag.

    Sorry for your recent struggles. Thanks for using them to encourage us. As others have said, nice covers! I think "A rancher's pride" is my favorite. I loved the excerpt! Please put my name in the draw.

  99. Jenny - you're very welcome.

    And that's a great mantra! We can get lots written in a 20-minute writing sprint.

  100. Ruthy! Good to see you.

    Thank you for your wonderful words. You can't see it from where you are, but you have me blushing. :)

    When it comes to chocolate chips in anything, I have a heavy hand. Judging by how quickly the croissants are disappearing around here, they must be edible, at least. lol

  101. Dear Barbara,

    Thank you for the post. I often use writing as a means of escape, and that's why I often find myself writing at Panera or Starbucks, less distractions of a basket of laundry to fold or a dishwasher to empty.

    I am deaf in one ear as I'm missing nerves in my left ear, but I've always been very thankful for my good ear.

    Thanks for the suggestions about shaking up the routine to sometimes get more out of writing.

  102. Hi, Lara - thanks for your kind words about our recent tough times and about my covers and excerpt.

    Looking at Sam often makes me feel a whole lot better. lol

    When it comes to writing under stress, your ability to work out of order could give you some advantages - one of which you touched on, about writing the scene that excites you at that moment. When the brain is tired or the stress level is up, it's great to have motivation and energy like that.

    I have heard of some authors who write the last chapter before they write page one.

    I've worked out of sequence only a few times, though it's not the way my mind usually works. However, recently, I'd written the epilogue of one book as soon as it came to me, and when I got to the final chapter, it was a thrill to have the epilogue already drafted. I could get used to that! ;)

  103. Hey, Seekers and friends - thanks for a fun day!

    I may be breaking for the night but will check back tomorrow, so feel free to keep the comments coming.

  104. BARBARA SAID: "As far as the cover models, no, I haven't had any input. I *did* get to "meet" the hero from my latest release, The Lawman's Christmas Proposal, on Twitter though. That was a great surprise! Don't know if I can C&P a cover here..."

    No need to C&P the The Lawman's Christmas Proposal cover, Barbara -- I checked it out and WHOA, BABY ... you met him on Twitter? That is sooooo cool!!

    My first book, A Passion Most Pure, had a reallllly delectable hero on it, and although I never got to meet him, I did find out his name and Googled him. :)

    Barbara, this was a fun day, so thank you for being such a great guest!


  105. Sorry, I'm sliding in here at the last minute, Barbara, but I'm glad I made it! Thank you so much for the tips on writing while stressed. I should have read this before I started writing today :-) Numbers 3 and 6 are especially helpful for me at this time. Thanks again!

  106. Hi Barbara:

    So many good comments!

    Great post!

    Very stimulating!

    Yesterday was so stressful for me that I couldn't get back to Seekerville until this morning whereupon I was delighted to enjoy your comment given below:

    "Having that book to write saved my sanity.

    DO NOT let the guilt get you. Escape into writing. Take time out. Do whatever you need to do to decompress. As I said in the post and comment(s) above, that will be the best thing you can do for yourself and for everyone around you."

    Sometimes our stress produces other people's stress relief!

    I like to escape into 'reading' and often reading romances! If one feels the stress of being neglected or unappreciated or even stuck in place, then a great romance can offer instant vicarious relief! At least, for a little while we can live someone else's life.

    So don't be too mean to that heroine or hero and be sure to include some small victories along the way. Have you ever noticed that in 'Downton Abbey' they balance a very sad moment with a happy victory in most episodes?)

    An HEA a day can do wonders for keeping stress at bay!

    Come back!


  107. Hi, Tanya - that's great to hear you're already having success with one of the suggestions and that you've found another one (or maybe more) to try.

    If we can't ignore the distractions, one of the best ways is to avoid them altogether - temporarily, of course. Most of them will still need to be done... eventually. :)

  108. Julie - meeting my cover hero from The Lawman's Christmas Proposal on Twitter WAS very cool. :)

    And you're very welcome. I'm so glad you enjoyed the post and had fun yesterday. The Seekers and their guests are all great people!

  109. No worries, Laura - I'm still here. :)

    Sounds like serendipity struck for you with this post. You might not have had it yesterday, but you have it and can put the ideas to good use now!

    Best of luck.

  110. Hi, Vince - sorry about your stressful day yesterday.

    Yes, we all had a wonderful conversation!

    And yes, I've noticed the sad/happy scenes on Downton Abbey.

    In romance, we have the same thing, although it's usually the other way around. We have smaller "happy" moments that crash with a sad reminder of the conflict, until we get to the best moment of all - the hero and heroine's happy-ever-after ending.

    Emotion is good in all books but key in romance. As I said somewhere above yesterday, we may not have had the same experiences as the characters, but (in all our reading) we draw from our experiences and emotions to share what the characters are feeling.

    Thanks for the kind words about coming back to Seekerville. I would love to visit again sometime!

  111. Seekers - thank you for inviting me to hang out with you! As always, I spent a fun and thought-provoking day here.

    I think I've responded to all comments to me and will keep an eye out for any new ones, so if you're reading this and still want to jump in, feel free.

  112. What a cute cover.. Not an author but...Reading helps me relieve stress! would love to read your book :)

  113. Hi, Deanna - we love readers, too! :)

    The tips should all be helpful to non-writers as well.

    Thanks for your kind words. I'm very lucky with my covers. And I'd be thrilled to have you read the book. :)