Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Stress Reduction for Writers - Guest Blog by Amanda Barratt


Erica Vetsch here: I'm so happy to host Seekerville (And my personal) friend Amanda Barratt on the blog today! I've known her for a long time, and she's as sweet and fun as can be, and we share a love of all things historical! She's got a fantastic new book which you can be entered to win by dropping a comment and talking about her timely blog topic today!

Three Tips to Beat Stress—Writer’s Edition
Amanda Barratt

Being a writer is stressful.

No, let me go a step further. Life is stressful. It’s busy, it’s cluttered, and sometimes, instead of churning words, we just want to curl up with a blanket and eat chocolate and watch Clark Gable movies. I know I’m not the only one. ;)

When we’re stressed by externals, we’re not producing at our full potential. Of course, there are the big stresses—illness, the death of a family member, the loss of a job. During those times, we’re sometimes called to take a step away and put writing on the back burner. Or dig deeper into grace and keep pushing onward with God’s help.

What I’m talking about is the everyday stress—all those little pebbles that pile on top of us and become a boulder. You’ve dealt with them. I’ve dealt with them. I still deal with them on a daily basis. But after studying productivity and how to live a calmer life, I’ve discovered a few tips that, though they don’t eliminate stress entirely, do help alleviate it. Today I’m going to share those tips with you.



1—To-Do Lists—I’m a paper person. I love pens and planners and pretty notepads. Living a less stressful, more organized life means I can indulge my office-supplies obsession to the fullest.

Lists accomplish two objectives. When we take time to write out what we want to do, it helps us see what we’re actually doing, trim away the unnecessary, and zero in on the essential. Also, putting it down on paper eliminates the excuse, “Oh, I forgot.” Unless you lose the paper! Each week, I write out a to-do list for every day. As the week goes on, I edit those lists based on what comes up. A sample list for a Wednesday might be:

1—Write 2k on novella in the morning.
2—Deep clean the upstairs bathroom.
3—Work 3-7 p.m. (Working a part-time day job along with writing makes lists like these essential in juggling everything.)

Notice I only wrote down the things that will take up big chunks of my day, not stuff like make lunch, or do morning devotions. I’ve trained myself to do those other things on auto-pilot, so there’s no need to record them. Of course, you can make your list as long or short as you want. Exercising always makes the list at least 2 days a week, as writing it down helps with accountability. Sometimes knowing I have to leave an item uncrossed if I don’t complete it is my main motivation for getting it done!



2— Clear the Clutter—There really is truth to The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It’s been proven that external clutter also clutters the brain. Trying to write a scene when your office is strewn with piles of papers and last week’s breakfast dishes is going to be more difficult than if your office is clean and organized. Once you have an organization system in place, it’s a matter of maintenance, which can be done in a few minutes each day. I try to tidy my office after every writing session—throw away any papers or Kleenex (I write sad books!), straighten my research materials (I usually keep them in a single stack on my bookshelf or file cabinet), and make sure everything is ready for the next day. I don’t always do this, and sometimes on deadline, my office can go weeks without being straightened. But I put in effort to make the time because my creativity reaps the rewards. I’m also a fan of a minimalist approach in decor, which helps give my brain the white space it needs.

An extra credit tip I’ve found especially helpful is simply this—don’t bring stuff into your house. Toss junk mail as soon as possible. Weed out often, and don’t over-purchase. The same goes for your virtual space. Unsubscribe from unnecessary emails, and have an organization system for your inbox. The more cluttered your spaces are, the more stress you’ll experience, whether consciously or subconsciously.



3— Set Reasonable Goals—A planner is also a great place to set goals and plan writing time. Figure out your deadline (whether it’s self-imposed or the one set by your publisher), and then figure out how long it takes you to produce the number of words required to meet it, plus editing time. For example, if you write 1000 words per day, it will take you thirty days to write a 30,000 word novella. Of course you’re not going to write every day, but calculate when you will. Think of those blocks of time as appointments, and keep them. Knowing you’re going to keep those appointments eliminates the stress of wondering how you’re going to get it all done.

Notice I said reasonable goals. All the time management skills and to-do lists in the world are useless if you’re overextended. When we’re at that place of defeated exhaustion or constant adrenaline, our life and work ceases to have joy. All of us have different levels. Never feel guilty if you’re not as productive as a writer you follow on social media, or aren’t one of those super-moms that has their children in five different extracurricular activities. Being intentional about pursuing writing has meant that I’ve had to say no to many other good things, and that hasn’t always been easy. Slowly, I’m learning to say no, schedule wisely, and carve out time for myself. Which leads to my last point . . .


3—Take Time for Self-Care—Let me start by saying there’s a difference between self-care and mindless activity. The former nourishes the heart and the latter serves only to numb the mind. I’m going to be brutally honest and say that sometimes I waste waayyy too much time scrolling Facebook. While I love social media, it’s easy to get sucked in, and that always isn’t the best use of limited time. So one of my goals this year is to cut down on the time I spend, and use the extra for something else. Figure out what actually brings you joy, and carve out time for those things, even if it’s only a few minutes a day. Something as simple as reading a chapter in a good book, taking a walk outside, or watching a movie in the evening can help you press pause and replenish peace and physical energy. Exercise is also one of the things I do for self-care. Though it isn’t something I necessarily enjoy doing, I do enjoy the benefits, and try to schedule at least two sessions a week.

As Christian writers, the most important thing we can do to feed our souls is to spend intentional time in prayer and study of the Word. Martin Luther is famous for saying “I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” Seeking God and surrendering our stress to Him will give us a peace that even the most organized life cannot surpass. Giving the first minutes of the day to God in prayer and Bible study goes back to the verse in Matthew that says “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all of these things shall be added unto you.” As we commit to spending time with Him, even in the midst of stress, He will be faithful to give us wisdom and strength.


Let’s talk stress and time-management! What areas do you struggle with most? What tips and tricks have you found most helpful?


GIVEAWAY— To celebrate hanging out on fabulous Seekerville, I’m giving away one copy of my latest release My Dearest Dietrich: A Novel of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Lost Love.


ECPA bestselling author Amanda Barratt fell in love with writing in grade school when she wrote her first story—a spinoff of Jane Eyre. Now, Amanda writes romantic, historical novels and novellas, penning stories of beauty and brokenness set against the backdrop of bygone eras not so very different from our own. Her novel My Dearest Dietrich: A Novel of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Lost Love, released from Kregel Publications in June 2019.

She’s also the author of My Heart Belongs in Niagara Falls, New York: Adele’s Journey, as well as seven novellas with Barbour Publishing. Two of her novellas have been finalists in the FHL Reader’s Choice Awards.

Amanda lives in the woods of Michigan with her fabulous family, where she can be found reading way too many books, plotting her next novel, and jotting down imaginary travel itineraries for her dream vacation to Europe.

Connect with her on Facebook and visit her online at www.amandabarratt.net.







My Dearest Dietrich: A Novel of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Lost Love

A staggering love illuminating the dark corners of a Nazi prison…
Renowned German pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer is famous for his resistance to the Nazi regime and for his allegiance to God over government. But what few realize is that the last years of his life also held a love story that rivals any romance novel.
Maria von Wedemeyer knows the realities of war. Her beloved father and brother have both been killed on the battlefield. The last thing this spirited young woman needs is to fall for a man under constant surveillance by the Gestapo. How can she give another piece of her heart to a man so likely to share the same final fate? Yet when Dietrich Bonhoeffer, an old family friend, comes to comfort the von Wedemeyers after their losses, she discovers that love isn't always logical.
Dietrich himself has determined to keep his distance from romantic attachments. There is too much work to be done for God, and his involvement in the conspiracy is far too important. But when he encounters a woman whose intelligence and conviction match his own, he's unprepared for how easy it is to give away his heart.
With their deep love comes risk--and neither Dietrich nor Maria is prepared for just how great that risk soon becomes.
Based on detailed historical research and including photos from both Maria's and Dietrich's lives, this is a true love story at once beautiful and heartrending. My Dearest Dietrich sheds new light on a world-famous theologian . . . and the woman who changed his life.


63 comments:

  1. Oh, goodness, Amanda. As I was reading, I started thinking, "Oh,yes. I'll quote that and agree." But the more I read, the more times I thought that, so I'm going with YES! There is so much good stuff in here. So much stuff that I need to pay attention to your suggestions on. I'm horrific about clutter, but what has me stalled right now, is not the clutter after the book, but the clutter OF the book. I have so many drafts, and so many pages and notecards scattered around that every time I sit down to work on it, I fell overwhelmed. I think I need to "Kondo" my WIP!

    Thanks for visiting today. Your book sounds absolutely fabulous.

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    1. Feel, not fell, but since the clutter makes me feel like I'm falling and failing, maybe it was a freudian slip more than a typo. ;)

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    2. Hi Cate! Oh, I can totally relate! Some projects seem to take on a life of their own, what with all the sticky notes and papers and draft manuscripts. Just LOOKING at it all can feel stressful, yet alone diving in and trying to make sense of the piles. What I've done before that has helped me is created a binder for my WIP, and organized all of those loose pieces of paper in that. I have tabs for my major characters, and any notes I take on them goes in that section. Notes on the setting go in another tab, notes on the history in another. That way when I sit down to work and need to refer to something, I know roughly where to find it. I seriously need to preach this to myself though, because right now my WIP binder definitely needs some decluttering. :-)

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    3. Oooh, Cate, I wrote a blog post about how to 'Marie Kondo' your manuscript! :)

      I am diving into plotting a novel today, and I have my pens and sticky notes all ready. I'll be creating new folders on the computer for all the bits and pieces I've collected to get them organized so I can start my style sheet!

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    4. I have to go look for that, Erica! I vaguely remember seeing it. Thanks for the reminder.

      Amanda, I keep meaning to do a binder as I go rather than stuffing everything in after the fact. Clearly the fairy handing out the organization genes skipped over me.

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  2. Hi, Amanda. I love lists, although sometimes I put things on there just to be able to cross them off, lol. I have several lists going at one time, including home and work-related. One of the things that's helped me the most is my WIP list. At night before I close the current file, I go through and make a list of everything I still need - supporting character names, locations, description of character clothing, etc. I'm a panster, not a plotter, so those things come to me at the strangest times.

    Congratulations on your newest book! It sounds so interesting. Thanks for a great post!

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    1. Hi Laura! I'm right there with you when it comes to putting something on a list just to cross it off! :-) Hey, the job got done! It deserves to be written down. :-)

      That WIP list is a great idea! Definitely helpful when it comes to remembering details. Thanks so much for sharing that tip!

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    2. I have been known to write something on the list I've already done so I can have something to cross off. How bad is that?

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    3. Full confession...I've been known to write "Make List" on the list so I can cross it off! :D

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    4. Erica, I have actually also written "make list" on my list.

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    5. Sending a high five to you, Sandy! List makers of dubious quality unite! :)

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    6. It's nice to know I'm not the only one :-)

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  3. Welcome back to Seekerville, Amanda! And congratulations on your new release! I've always been fascinated by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, so your book is on my TBR list. :-)

    This year has been very stressful so far - mostly good stress (moving to a new house,) but some things have not been so much fun. Those external *pings* make it very hard to keep my mind on my WIP. Half my mind is working out what to move and what to sell, while the other half is trying to figure out how an amputee from the Civil War is going to survive in post-war Ohio.

    So all of your points hit home! I have to say that list-making is my #1 go-to when life is busy. I use a bullet journal to keep all the lists in one place and keep my calendar organized. It's definitely my sanity-saver.

    And self-care...so important. I spend an hour every morning with my Bible, reading and praying. That practice has helped me start every day out on the right track, and I am able to accomplish much more of what needs to be done. When I neglect that time, I end up spending my day reacting to the stress rather than being proactive and calm.

    Thank you for these much-needed reminders!

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    1. Hi Jan! It's so great to be on Seekerville today! Yay for you continuing to prioritize self-care in the midst of a move. Spending time in prayer and Bible reading definitely helps in facing the day with peace. I had to smile when this post came out, because I wrote it a couple of months ago, and these past couple of weeks, in the midst of book release busyness, I've neglected to follow my own advice! :-) So reading it again is a reminder to me too. But lists are definitely sanity savers.

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts! :-)

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    2. Jan, I will be so happy for you when all the moving house stuff is done and you're sitting in your new place with that fantastic view! There HAS to be a fountain of inspiration that will flow in those surroundings!

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  4. I loved this post. I can let the day get away from me if I let it. I think writing a short list helps tremendously in keeping focused. And clutter!!! Ugh...it is a creativity sucker for me. Weird, isn't it? As for self-care, I think this is more challenging. It almost feels selfish to take time for me, but I'm learning it is okay to stop work and just read. It's research, right? ;)

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    1. I totally agree, Sherrinda!

      Especially with the lure of social media and the internet, the day can slip through our fingers before we know it. Speaking from experience. :-) And clutter is one of the worst things for creativity, as well as for general peace of mind. I once read a book by a woman who worked a high-profile job in Hollywood, and she was talking about how many of the stars she knew tended to decorate their homes very sparsely, because the minimalist look helps them decompress after long days at high-intensity jobs. Since reading that, I've scaled down on the decor in my office, and only kept a few things that had special meaning to me. There's just something about white space.

      And I know what you mean about feeling guilty taking time for self-care. Been there, done that! But I think when we do take that time, we're more refreshed and better able to serve and love those around us. It's definitely something we have to be intentional about though, otherwise it likely won't happen, especially for us busy women who are juggling families and children and friends and ministry and writing.

      Thank you so much for reading the post! :-)

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    2. Ugh, the time-suck of social media! I can spend all day bouncing from site to site, reading, replying, etc.

      Setting a timer...possibly with an electric shock attached...would probably be wise for me...

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    3. We NEED to patent that invention, Erica! Timer with electric shock attached. We could be millionaires! :-)

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  5. Amanda, welcome back! We're so glad you're here today! I loved this post. I need to take all your tips to heart--especially writing my to-do list. I used to be a big list writer but have fallen behind on doing that. I need to get back to my planner, which has the perfect place for lists!

    I'm so excited about your new release! I've heard so much about it and can't wait to read it. Your post today reminded me to go buy it. I can't wait to get started!

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    1. Hi Missy! I'm so glad you enjoyed reading the post! And that you're looking forward to My Dearest Dietrich! :-)

      Ah, to-do lists! I definitely agree they take time to compose and then keep up-to-date. Personally, I find if I don't write things down, I forget them. And after I've written it down, it takes some of the stress away, as I don't have to remember it anymore, just do it. :) And planners are wonderful for keeping track of everything! In this day and age of digitalism, I'm still a huge fan of pen and paper!

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    2. The one list I need to get back into the habit of making is a meal plan/grocery list. I used to make one every Monday morning and grocery shop on Monday afternoons...but since the kids are grown, we tend to wing it for suppers more often than not...

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  6. I am completely OCD when it comes to being organized. I have a planner with To-do lists for everyday. I check them off as I go. I just use a composition notebook when they go on sale during back to school sales. There is room in the back of journal notes, story ideas, and prayer requests. If I lose it, I would be so hurt. It is my life in a notebook. It is hard to keep clutter out when you have three boys, a husband, three dogs, 15 chickens, a cow, a garden, a part-time job,and 10 acres to take care of. But anyways, thanks for your suggestions , Amanda. I really can't wait to read your book.

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    1. Hi Kelly! I love your to-do list system! Sometimes the simplest ways work best. That's such a great idea!

      And it definitely isn't easy to keep clutter out. Sometimes it's more about controlling clutter, rather than eliminating it, because clutter is the residue of life happening. I love doing quick pick-ups throughout the day, taking five minutes and going through a room to tidy and throw things away. Lately, though, in the midst of releasing a book and all that goes along with it, that has totally NOT been happening! So this article is preaching to me too! :)

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    2. Kelly, I also buy notebooks when they are on sale. Back to school sales are a great way for a writer to stock up on any supplies like that.

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    3. Kelly, wow! You are one busy woman! I feel like a slacker!

      I have a plethora of spiral notebooks...purchase during back-to-school sales...that I jot in all the time. Mostly story ideas and house layouts and maps, anything I can't find online because I'm making it up as I go. :)

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  7. I'm definitely a list person and my life runs on my planners! (One for homeschooling, one for work, one for writing -- it's the only way I keep it all straight.)

    My biggest challenge is that I'm very much a person who does best with a regular routine, but my husband and I are both self-employed with schedules that are anything but regular!

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  8. Hi Teish! Wow, 3 planners! That's impressive! YOU should write an article about how you utilize them all and keep them up-to-date.:-)

    And I totally agree about regular routine. There's just something about a familiar rhythm to a day that add a sense of peace. As someone who deals with a schedule that frequently changes from one day to the next, I can totally relate!

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    1. I love my routine...my family calls it my rut. I like knowing what I'm going to be doing on a particular day. We're not super-spontaneous or last minute around here...probably due to me.

      Self-employment brings its own special needs, doesn't it? Sometimes it feels like you're spinning off in a dozen directions with all the tasks that need to be done!

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    2. I'm the same way, Erica! I thrive on routine (or a rut, whatever you want to call it!). Spontaneity sounds more stress-inducing than anything else. I like making a plan and then following that plan to the letter. :-) Maybe it's because we're both writers with deadlines.

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  9. Looking now at my cluttered desk and floor...Points taken. :0) Thank you for the tips. Definitely something I need to work on. I used to write my major goals for the day in my calendar. Helped keep me focused. Time I start again.

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    1. Hi Samantha! So glad you enjoyed the post! When I was pondering what to write about for Seekerville, I kept coming back to stress-reduction and decluttering, because they are both habits I've reaped the benefits of in my own life, plus experienced the negative effects that come when I don't follow tips like these. Like many things in life, it's often a matter of trying and failing, then picking yourself up and trying again, making progress little by little.

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    2. This might be one of the reasons I write mostly in coffee shops...someone else does the cleaning! :)

      Actually, I have to have a clean desk in order to write or work. As the company bookkeeper for our family business, my work desk has to be tidy. The potential for misplacing something important is too great otherwise!

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  10. I quit working outside our home 20 years ago to homeschool and manage the ranch. I am at the beck and call of everyone and everything here...I keep them all alive! However, there are a few sacred hours in the mornings they don’t get-barring emergency. I have my time in the Bible and with Jesus and then I write.
    The rest of the day I fit in what I can around all the feet, hooves, paws and fins.

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    1. What a blessing you are to your family, Dalyn! I was homeschooled from kindergarten through high school, and truly can attest to the deep impact it had upon my life. That's wonderful that you schedule time in the morning for quiet time and writing! Early morning solitude can be such a gift!

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    2. I homeschooled my offspring as well. It is true, you are 'on duty' all the time, isn't it? And you're keeping not just yourself but all the kidlets organized, too. It can be hard to find that precious alone time we all need to be writers and to listen to Jesus through His Word, can't it?

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  11. Thank you for the tips on decluttering I really need to work on this!

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    1. You're welcome, Sarah! Glad you enjoyed the post! :) De-cluttering is definitely a process. I currently have several areas in my house calling for attention! :-)

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    2. Sarah, me too! My daughter and I are committed to organizing and downsizing over the summer. She's gotten a head-start on me, but I'll catch up!

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  12. Amanda, this is a great post. I love reading how people manage their time and clutter. It is something I am always working on. I love making lists, although sometimes I spend too much time making the lists and not getting them done. I liked what you said about just putting the major things on the list. I have in the past tried to put every little thing on there, but it works better for me to schedule the big things and the others fall into place.

    I am a substitute teacher, so right now I am on summer break and this is the time that I need my time management the most as I have all this time to work but also too easy to fritter it away. I also work part time in a book store, so it is important to keep on top of everything. I also fit in exercise. I belong to a gym and have an exercise class every morning, although I chose not to go this morning. But it is those other things that come up that mess me up. For example, yesterday my husband and I got new phones and changed our phone plan. I was also changing from one carrier to another. I knew it would take a while, but it took FOUR HOURS. Of course, since then I've been spending a lot of time learning my new phone. On the other hand, I will save time as it took forever for my old phone to do anything! Well, now I am ready to make good use of my afternoon--I hope.

    Please enter me in the drawing.

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    1. Sandy, you work in a book store? That would be disastrous for me...all my paychecks would come home in inventory! :)

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    2. Erica, it is hard to resist. I do write down a lot of titles to look for in the library.

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    3. I can totally relate to spending too much time making the lists and not enough getting them done! It's a lot easier to sit in a chair and write down a long string of tasks, then actually getting up and doing said tasks. :-) LOL

      You sound like you're one busy lady! And the story you shared about getting your phone switched over is so relatable! Underestimating how long things take is a continual challenge. Logically, it seems something should only take half an hour, and then a problem comes up, and then another problem, and before you know it, hours have went by. The only way to combat situations like that, I've found, is to give yourself a whole lot of grace. And to remember, as Scarlett O'Hara says, that "After all, tomorrow is another day!" :-)

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  13. I'm not a writer, Amanda, but I needed this post! Especially the declutter part. It's stressful for me to go through things and decide what to keep and what to toss, so I ignore it all and hope it will go away. I definitely didn't inherit my mom's genes for organizing and tossing things. I can toss the junk things and keep the "must haves", it's the things in the "maybe" group that drive me crazy. I usually want to keep too much!

    I've always been a list maker, but now it's imperative or I forget what needs to be done! This old brain doesn't work quite as well as it used to!

    Thanks so much for the thoughtful post!

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    1. Hi Winnie! Deciding what to keep and what to get rid of can be stressful. There's always the lingering thought in the back of the mind, "six months, a year, down the road, will I regret this?" What I've done before with clothes and such is to put items I'm undecided about in a bag or box, stick that in the back of a closet, and leave it there for a few months. If I don't miss the things, it usually means I can get rid of them permanently. One of my friends calls this her "clothing purgatory." LOL

      I'm so glad you enjoyed the post! Thank YOU for reading it! :-)

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    2. Clothing purgatory! That's a great term for it.

      Winnie, I have to make lists now too. I tell folks that my brain is now like a Teflon colander. What doesn't slide off, slips through the holes!

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    3. Yes, Amanda! I need to do that and then NOT OPEN the sack or box before I get rid of it! And "clothing purgatory" is a great name.

      Erica, I sympathize with you. I think we just get so many things crammed into our brains that they're on overload. Then when I try to remember something, my synapses don't fire right. I'll have to remember the Teflon colander! Great analogy! I make the lists, but then I have to remember to look at the lists! I'm afraid my brain is fried!

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  14. Amanda, Thank you for sharing these tips. For me I find that starting my day with the Lord and keeping in constant fellowship greatly reduces stress.

    Congratulations on your new release! I'm excited to read it!

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    1. So true, Caryl! All the stress-reduction tips in the world won't erase the fact that life is stressful, and that only by clinging to the Lord can we have true peace.

      And thank you so much! Thrilled you're looking forward to reading My Dearest Dietrich! :)

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  15. Congrats on your new release!

    And thank you for this post. It really resonated with me. I love how you emphasized the importance of putting God first and how by doing that we're adding to our day - not taking away from it.

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  16. Thank you so much for your kind words, Rachel! So glad the post was a blessing to you!

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  17. I needed to read this. Thank you, Amanda! I really want to write. I have so many works in progress. It's to where I don't want to make the time to do anything else.
    Having read this post, what I may want to do is brainstorm the week to come every Sunday afternoon/evening. I used to be so good at this, but I know I need to do it again.

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    1. Hi Faye! I LOVE the idea of brainstorming the week to come every Sunday afternoon. I do something similar. Although the week never goes exactly as planned, having a plan is super helpful to start out with. Something that is also helpful is to block out certain times to work on writing, and making note of those on your to-do list or calendar. If you schedule a few every week, even if something urgent comes up during one of the times, then you may still able to make the other ones. I find that if I don't even try to schedule something, it's a guarantee it won't happen. Susan May Warren has wonderful tips about time management and scheduling writing that go along with her My Brilliant Writing Planner. Those have helped me with my scheduling and planning. :)

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  18. I love this post. I keep having to take a step back and remind myself that my writing schedule is going to look completely different from someone who doesn't have preschoolers at home. And I can tell when I have days where I overscheduled. Curling up with a good book before bed helps tremendously. Right now, I am at a writers' retreat and refilling my motivation and encouragement and ideas. It's fabulous and I don't want to go home tomorrow.

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    1. That's so true, Amy! It's definitely a temptation to compare ourselves to others who are in different seasons of life, and feel as if our productivity is lacking. But, as I know from experience, that mindset only leads to stress and discouragement. No two writers' schedules look alike. Some write every day, some a few days a week, some only on weekends. The important thing is to keep going forward! At least that's what I tell myself on the hard days. :-)

      Writers' retreats are amazing, aren't they?? There's just something about being among like-minded creatives that is so refreshing and inspiring. Like you, whenever I am at a conference or retreat, I never want to leave! :-) I hope you have a wonderful rest of your time there!

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  19. Anne L. RightlerJune 12, 2019 at 7:49 AM

    I am kind of a list person although since I’ve retired, not so much. Although, to make sure I keep track on reviews I use a computer program and add them to my calendar w/ alerts a week ahead and a couple days ahead. And sometimes I even make a paper and pencil list if I’m getting jammed up a bit.

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    1. Hi Anne, List-making is amazing, isn't it? My pastor often says, when encouraging the congregation to take notes, "a short pencil is better than a long memory." That becomes all the more evident when I don't write something important down, and then forget it! :-)

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  20. This is a fantastic post. I do work with a messy desk, but at the end of the day it needs to be at least organized. These are great tips. And your book looks wonderful! Congratulations!

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    1. I'm the same way, Glynis. I can work with a messy desk, but it has to be tidy at the end of the work day. Doing good creative work is always easier in orderly surroundings.

      And thank you so much! I'm so excited to share the story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer with readers! :-)

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  22. Thanks Amanda for this great post. I spent yesterday morning clearing 3 piles of paper to get rid of the clutter (yes - that's right, took me ALL morning to file and organize 3 piles) but what a relief when it was done! Piles cleared, desk organized and I was able to concentrate so much better on the task at hand afterward. I remember reading somewhere that people who are surrounded by clutter are unhappy, stressed, and unproductive...I totally get that. After my experience yesterday, I can wholeheartedly agree with that stat! Decluttering is also a way for me to destress. :)

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  23. Thanks for the great post--so much good info. I have to declutter before I can destress and write anything. I can work at a messy desk but I don't do it very well. . .much better when things are tidy. I have also had to learn self-care but I have been doing better as I get older.

    Your new book sounds so good!

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