I'm on deadline for Penguin/Blue Rider Press and the book is due in less than three months. Do I feel the stress? Sure. Even after six previous novels published by the majors? Oh yeah.
But there are four things I've learned over my years as a pro writer that instantly help to drop my stress meter by notches:
1) Take ten deep breaths. That's inhale, and, yes, exhale, too. Honestly, it sounds too reasonable and basic to mention, but when I'm stressing out, I am not breathing. Not smart. Oxygen helps everything.
2) Slow down to speed up. It's not a tricky koan. It means what it says. And it really goes with breathing. Slowing down makes me feel luxurious again and it puts me in touch with the joy of writing. That joy is the wellspring.
3) Take a break and find a new way of seeing. I snapped the picture of the mountains this past winter when my friend took me up in his airplane. I love flying because it changes my perspective and opens my mind and my imagination. During my writing day, I may not make it to 15,000 feet but I can still easily change perspective. Bird-watching with my cat, playing with my daughter, standing on my head...
4) Remember to trust the creative process. While process depends upon flow and flow means having the courage to jump in and sometimes there is free fall...technique and years of writing, writing, writing, these are the net. Bounce, bounce...and breathe.