Staying Relaxed: Tips for Writers and Freelancers

I put a lot of pressure on myself to do well. Working at home, I do set my own hours and choose the projects I take on, but I set a high standard for everything I do—it’s good for business and it makes me feel good when clients praise me for the work I’ve done for them.

Unfortunately, dealing with this kind of pressure every day is stressful! And because my home is also my workplace, it can feel like I’m always at work, or that I always should be working.

As a writer or a freelancer—whether you’re a professional or just doing it as a hobby—sometimes you have to force yourself to sit down and write to deadline. That can be extremely stressful for some people, no matter how much experience or training you have. Here are some ways to stay relaxed so you can still look at your writing as fun!

Create a Relaxing Music Playlist

I’m listening to mine right now. I’ve found YouTube to have a plethora of relaxing videos, with everything from nature sounds to Reiki music to meditation videos. One not-so-good habit I have is that I tend to listen to the same songs over and over again, so try to add in a few new songs in from time to time. Listening to the playlist on random helps as well. The music doesn’t have to be meditative or instrumental—listen to whatever helps you feel at ease. I find that lyrics often distract me when I’m writing, so that’s why I prefer instrumental music.

Currently, this is one of my favourite tracks:

Take a Short, Productive Break

I’m on my computer all day—it’s both my workstation and my source of fun. Once I start working on something, I find it hard to stop, so I really only take breaks to Tweet, or to eat a meal.

Taking a break away from your computer is probably the best thing you could do, if possible. But I’m the type of person that once I leave a place behind, I tend to not come back to it after a while. Example: once I get up from my computer, I will eat, but then I might have to do laundry, clean something…and one thing leads to another, and suddenly, it’s time to eat another meal again.

If you’re going to take a fifteen minute break but you don’t want to leave your chair and lose your focus, there are still other things you can do. Browsing Reddit can be rewarding, as long as you don’t get sucked in (believe me, you can spend hours on this website and not realize it). Updating other social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook can still be viewed as productive. Looking up a topic that interests you or that you stumbled across earlier can enrich your day, leaving you feeling like you’ve learned something rather than wasting time dicking around on the internet. Just as long as you remind yourself—by alarm clock or just by continuous checking of the time on your computer screen—that you should get back to work soon.

Have a Hobby that has NOTHING to do with your work.

And I mean nothing to do with it. Editing is my profession, writing is my higher calling, reading is a study of like-minds and their techniques, but playing games is a hobby. When I’m playing Skyrim or KOTOR or Sims 2, I don’t have to think about work. And at the end of the day, that’s usually what I feel like doing, because when I’m writing, I do end up thinking about work because they’re related, and then my personal writing really does feel like work! This is why keeping an active blog is difficult for me—it’s hard to think of it as fun when my brain is telling me that I’m still on the clock.

Playing games usually requires sitting at a computer too (unless we’re talking about board games or table-top games!) so you might want to take up an outdoor hobby or something that doesn’t involve looking at a screen. Your eyes will thank you later.

These are just three things that work for me—you might find others. Feel free to share yours below!

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