Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Detox for Writers

When you're stressed out, everyone and everything suffers. You neglect your family, forget to clean the fish tank, let the yard grow out, piss off your boss with your latest raging case of The Fuckits, irk your loving wife because you'd rather sleep on the couch (because, probably owing to the PTSD associated with your divorce and all those years bedding down the cushions, when you're stressed, the couch feels safer), and above all other things, you impose a magnificent injustice on your writing.

It's this latterest point I'd like to address specifically, and the others tangentially, if at all.

Writing is important to me. It quiets the voices. I release an energy inside me that opens up a whole new level of creativity that I can apply to anything else in my life. Writing helps me coach soccer. Writing helps me analyze engineering problems at work. Writing helps me communicate with my wife and children.

Writing is a huge part of who I am, and what I do. When I stress out, and can't write, I need to find ways to detoxify the stress levels and unleash the worms.

First, I believe you need balance in all four areas of your life: Head, Heart, Spirit, Body.

That sounds a little Buddhist or Taoist or Maoist or some such, but there it is. I add a fifth on there sometimes, Financial, but I'll leave out that sucker since most of us don't have nearly the control over our finances that we like to think we have.

Anyway, here are some things that detoxify me when I get cluttered up.

I hole up and read. That, friends, is a huge escape for me, and a fine way to prime the writer's pump.

I work out. I've done globogym work since college, but did martial arts and burst training in high school. I recently went back to burst training (doing CrossFit) and some light martial arts, and it has reinvigorated a youthful side of me I had forgotten I still had. In fact, it's inspiring my latest story.

I attend church or pray. Pick your religious poison, but having some sort of spiritual relationship will put you back on keel. Like the burst training, a good religious experience will awaken that inner kid, the one who let Mommy and Daddy worry about everything, and who believed Dad when he said it would be all right and that he was the meanest mutherfucker in the woods, ain't nobody gonna hurt you, ever.

I cuddle up with my wife and watch a movie. I let her pick the flick, and God love her, she picks guy-movies every last time. I don't know if she actually likes the movies. She says she does, and then we rent the latest Resident Evil. How can I not love that woman?

I think I'll buy her flowers tonight, just for the hell of it, and cuddle up with her, even though I should be working and mowing that yard.

Man, screw the yard.

How do you detox? How do you stay in-the-game during stressful times?

- Eric


Stephanie Lorée said...

I've never heard it called a "raging case of The Fuckits" before, but that's brilliant.

Being female, I destress with chocolate. But I also participate in martial arts, meditation, bubble baths, and curling up with a good book. Sometimes I do all the latter 3 at once!

Scribbler to Scribe

Unknown said...

I also absolutely can't write if I am stressed out. I would get angry and kill of my MC out of spite.

To de-stress I do pretty much exactly what you do! Run, meditate, read, sometimes just stare into space for a long time. And hang out with the fiance, with whom I would SO much rather watch Resident Evil than Chocolat. (Believe your wife! Ladies like to watch aliens blow up, too. I watch the corny stuff when no boys are around, ha!)

Olivia J. Herrell, writing as O.J. Barré said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Olivia J. Herrell, writing as O.J. Barré said...

Lately I meander. I live in the North Georgia mountains, moved here last December. I like to see where the roads go, see what's waiting around the corner. Last weekend I discovered a waterfall on the side of the road maybe two miles from here. Now it's part of my meandering.

Thank you for sharing. You are a double-edged sword and one side is a real sweet-heart. I hope you get that time on the sofa with your wife and she's all aglow from your thoughtful flowers.

~that rebel, Olivia

Olivia J. Herrell, writing as O.J. Barré said...

Dude! Did you change your website? I just took a tootle around (see, I'm still meandering!) and it rocks!!! I want mine to look like this. It's simple, but profound.

Great look! Olivia

Jemi Fraser said...

She'll love the flowers!

Reading is huge for me too. It's always been my safety net. Watching an old fave movie/series works pretty well too - LotR, Serenity, Star Trek...

dolorah said...

Good thinkin' Bro.

I love your detox plan.

Won't work for me - but it was nice to hear someone has a viable plan that they can depend on.

Unfortunately right now, I'm in the midst of The Fuckits for both day job and writing.

I need to find the entrance to your cave and plug it up behind me.:)

Have a great evening Eric.


Raquel Byrnes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Raquel Byrnes said...

I'm with you for the reading part. I love tearing through a book without thought to the particulars like pace or tension or layering...just reading for pleasure.

I also like to organize and plan stuff...homeschool leson plans, our closet, clearing out the junk can be both physically and mentally freeing.

The most common though, and my husband's favorite, is baking. I used to work for a pastry chef and I tend to get really into baking when I'm stressed. Nothing like Death By Chocolate at two in the morning with your hubby and an ice cold glass of milk to help me destress.

Hope your writing gets back on go buy those flowers!

Nighfala said...

Aw dang. You had to remind me about the fish tank, didn't you?

Sarah Ahiers said...

I play a lot (A LOT) of video games.
and i read.
good times

Beth Mann said...

I get VERY cranky if I can't write. Reading is my next go-to, preferably in a hot bath with a glass of wine. And I'm a huge proponent of getting your butt in a pew for some teaching, and some quiet time alone with God. :) Thanks for your honesty!

Might I suggest some sunflowers for the wifey? She sounds pretty awesome.

Phoenix said...

Sometimes when I read your posts I feel like I just got off the phone with you and we talked for an hour, because you just GET me without even trying.

A few weeks ago I literally made a list of: Spiritual/Mental/Physical/Emotional and put under each category things I want to do to maintain each "house" in my body. I came up with reading, hiking, finishing my script, doing martial arts, napping, cooking, cuddling with the boy, calling my friends more often, etc. It was such a great exercise. And now here you are, blogging about the same thing.

We are so alike sometimes, it's hilarious.

Also, wanted to tell you - your comment about being a "tapper" brought tears to my eyes, and I'll tell you why; my boyfriend is a "rocker." He rocks, almost unconsciously, when he's sitting down and focused or deep in thought or really excited about something. I fiercely love that about him because I know it comes from a place in him where long ago he needed comfort and love and didn't find it, and now I give him pillows to put behind his back so he can rock out without giving his back bruises. I love it about him so much because it's HIM, and all his other girlfriends made fun of him for it.

So thank you, for your comment - it made me realize that my guy's rocking should always be treated with such kindness and care.

Eric W. Trant said...

I should add to my list of detox exercises: Getting such constructive comments!

Mes: Do MA in the tub. That's what I do, in the shower, at the gym, so that none of the other guys will shower next to me. I need my man-space, you know. A few Bruce Lee screams and they split.

Sarah: I sorta liked Chocolat... But to relax, I much preferr the Blade Trilogy.

Olivia: I got your deleted email. That was a wonderful thing you wrote. Yes, I changed the website. They had new templates, and so I indulged.

Jemi: Serenity! I haven't seen that movie in a while, and I bet my honeybunch hasn't seen it ever. You want good writing, watch Serenity!

Donna: If you want in the cave, you must bring a large chunk of meat and something that drinks well with it.

Raquel the Evil One: Baking... yum. My girl bakes. She used to be a restaurant cook. She's WONDERFUL in the kitchen. I used to think the way to a man's heart was through his pants, but the Old Wives were right after all: It's through his stomach.

Christine: Yes, you clean your tank this weekend, I'll clean mine.

Sarah: Video games, eh. We have HULK, and you just romp around smashing cars, hitting people with telephone poles, dropping buildings, and jumping across town. Now THAT'S a detoxifying game. You can even throw cows!

Beth: You nailed it. She digs sunflowers, that's her favorite, and yes, she's pretty awesome.

Tracy: Your man fiercely loves that about you, too, that you accept him without bugging him about the rocking. Oh Lord in Heaven, Slap Me Jesus, let me tell you how much he loves you for not bugging him about the rocking. Hell, ~I~ love you for not bugging him about the rocking!

- Eric

Stephanie Lorée said...

Mes: Do MA in the tub. That's what I do, in the shower, at the gym, so that none of the other guys will shower next to me. I need my man-space, you know. A few Bruce Lee screams and they split.

I would knock myself senseless doing MA in the tub. I may try the Bruce Lee screams mid-bath tho, probably scare the crap out of my roomies. They already think I'm special. :)

Anonymous said...

Reading tops my list. It takes about five books to make me feel better and put me back in the writing mood.

I also love to putter in my garden. This solitary confinement (who else likes to weed?) is great thinking time. Especially to hold a conversation with God.

And then there's my DH. He's my rock and I couldn't do it without him!

Thanks for this great post.


Unknown said...

Flowers and global appreciation?! That is spoiled.
Thanks for calling by and commenting.
No one should interrupt a person when they are moaning - complaining or otherwise. ;)

Lola Sharp said...

Reading, playing music LOUD, knocking a few things off my list helps (and I usually do this with the music LOUD), have sex with my husband, cuddle and watch a movie with husband, laugh. Humor makes everything better.

But, honestly, I have a damn good life, a great husband, great kid, healthy, no financial problems, so I usually just remind myself that the things that are stressing me out are minor annoyances, and I focus on all the great stuff.

I'm glad you have such a sweet wife, Eric.

Happy Monday,

Theresa Milstein said...

Such a true post.

I love the same line as Mesmerix. It's true, when we're down we let everything fall by the wayside.

And we do need balance. I try to get exercise and get myself near a body of water, preferably the salty kind. Hugs from my kids help too. If I don't, I can't get enough sleep and walk around like a zombie.

I need to write to calm the voices too.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Me for the book thing mostly.

I also like to go out and muck around in the compost, checking to see if my neglected worms are still alive. Sometimes I even spread the composted yuck in my garden.

Pulling weeds is therapeutic because I can say things like, "Die, sucker" which is better than saying it to another human.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

What a wonderful list of ways to detox. My list would look very similar, I think.

I'm sure your wife LOVED the flowers and the cuddle night! What a guy! :-)

Julie Musil said...

Your list is my list. There, I said it. I do need to shut down and work out more. I get caught up in what I'm writing or researching, and let that go. Plus, working out gets the creative stuff moving along.

I hope your wife reads your blog, because that is some sweet stuff.

Erica Mitchell said...

So, okay, firstly my internet took a dive when you left me a comment on the Naming the World post and became a follower, sorry! I didn't ignore you I had a technical foul.
Now, how do I destress? I listen to music and if need be sing as loud as I can to get all that excess energy out. I take a drive. And when it's not too hot I sit on the front porch and just chill with my dog and some iced tea. Southern much? ;)
And I'm now following as well.

Wine and Words said...

"Writing is important to me. It quiets the voices. I release an energy inside me that opens up a whole new level of creativity that I can apply to anything else in my life." YES YES YES

Love the snuggle with wife and a guy flick. Guys can't detox to a tear jerker. Smart woman you got there.

Anonymous said...

I am also with you on the reading. I love a good read and I don't feel too guilty about not writing because I figure it's helping me learn the craft.

I also like to go for a massage. This is my biggest indulgence.

P.s. you sound like a LOVELY husband. I'm sure your wife realises just how lucky she is...and vice versa. She sounds lovely too!