Fiction Writing for Stress Relief

Serpent Mound in Ohio, a scenic and peaceful place to visit.

What do travel and fiction writing have in common? Anyone who has followed this blog for more than a few posts can already guess how I will answer that question. They are both activities that I love and that I enjoy blogging about. They also share another important function for me — they are great ways to relieve stress.

Along the magnificent California coastline.

In the past, travel was usually my preferred method of stress relief. Heading to a distant (or even a not-so-distant) place with new sights to explore, things to learn, and cuisine to sample always helped to lift me out of whatever bothered me at the time, whether it was stress at work, health issues, or family troubles.

Unfortunately, for the past two years, the pandemic has pretty much grounded my beloved co-author and me. So, I’ve turned a lot more to an alternate means of stress relief — fiction writing.

As I sat down to compose today’s blog post, I considered the reasons why writing novels provides such a good means of therapy for me. I’m not a psychologist and I can’t speak for others, but these are some of the benefits that I have found from the activity:

  1. Fiction writing gives a sense of order and control in a chaotic world. I can seldom control what happens in the world around me. At times, I can’t even predict what will occur in my own home. When I write a novel, however, John and I decide what happens to the characters and their world.
  2. Writing provides a means to work through the past. It’s very easy for me to dwell on mistakes I’ve made, even long after the events are over. I’ve found that, when I write about similar things happening to the characters in a story, I can see them from a different perspective, and I become a lot less obsessed with them.
  3. Writing gives a focus for stray thoughts. If I don’t have something interesting to occupy my mind, I will invariably start to worry about things. For me, worry quickly escalates into obsession and anxiety. I’ve found that focusing my thoughts on the plot, characterization, and events of our current novel can provide a nice safe place for my mind to wander, particularly when I am trying to sleep at night.
Hiking in Washington.

And finally, the fantasy novels that John and I create take place in worlds very different from our hometown. I can write about mountains, caves, cities, rivers, and all the other places that I miss visiting. In a way, being an author provides a vicarious means for me to travel even when physical vacations are not possible. So, in the end, my two favorite topics to blog about really do have a lot in common.

Talk to you on the first Friday of March!

-Susan 2/4/2022

p.s. I hope this new, once-a-month format for my blog is working out for everyone. It has really helped to free up a lot more of my time so I can concentrate on the second draft of the new novel. I’m also taking an in-depth class on Amazon book advertising.

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