I’m feeling a little stressed out these days. I can tell this by two things:

First, the tell-tale way my shoulders suddenly seem to live near my ears.

Secondly, the dreams I keep having where I keep finding myself unable to find the words to say to someone.

That second one, that’s this writer’s biggest stress indicator – a lack of words.

When I get too busy, when I take on too much, I find myself more tongue-tied in general, but I also find myself having a harder time putting words on the page – they come like splinters tugged loose from the fleshy pads of my fingers. Slowing down my mind takes a great deal of effort – like shoving a hippopotamus up a steep hill. Instead of letting my mind ruminate over ideas and things I’ve read, I feel pressed to make every minute count by thinking through the list of things I’ve given myself to think about. Clearly, this is not healthy for me or for my writing.

So today, I’m going to do what is best for me to do, even though it’s hard – I’m going to force those words out of myself. I’m going to take my two hours of writing time, turn off email, and phone. Put on Imogen Heap and just put my head down. It’s the best solution – to force the words loose until they begin to flow again.

Oh, and I think I’ll imagine I’m in a quiet cabin snowed in without electricity. No hope of leaving. Just me. My desk. A woodstove. A cat or two and some amazing soup. That should help.

What effect does stress have on your writing? How do you handle stress? To where would you like to escape life and write for a while?