How Stress Affects Creativity

If you’ve been reading my posts here on Authoring Arrowheads over the past few months, you probably already aware that I’m going through yet another season of stress, and that it had affected my creativity to the point I decided to take a blog hiatus for the month of May.

I thought that small blog break would help me get back on my feet creatively, allowing me to dedicate more time to writing my current WIP, On the Flip Side, but as it turns out, that didn’t help reignite my creative fire one bit.

So, it got me thinking… why is this particular Stressor, which is not coming from a writing-related area at all, having such a negative impact on my creativity?

Hold on tight, my friends. This isn’t going to be a psychoanalysis of my brain, or a scientific fact-filled post as to why I’ve been feeling the way I’ve been feeling lately. This is just an author trying to sort out for herself why on earth she’s letting stress rule her life and how she can eradicate it’s stronghold on her and get back to doing and loving her passion of writing.

The Stressor

While I won’t go into specific details, let’s just suffice it to say that the Stressor in my life right now is something that I can’t just up and let go of or ignore. This Stressor is something that I have to endure for hours on end, and, if I’m being honest, worrying about the Stressor has crept into my downtime. Hence, the most obvious reason why I’ve been struggling with my creativity lately: I’ve been dwelling on the negative feelings the Stressor has been causing, and have had little energy to do anything I’m passionate about.

Why Does the Stressor Have Such a Stronghold Over Me?

Like I mentioned above, this Stressor is just something I am forced to deal with right now. Yes, I do have the ability to make a change, and it’s not a life-or-death matter, but at this particular moment, I’m praying and waiting on God to guide me in any decision making. And, to be honest, unless I’m missing something, He’s been silent. No matter how much I pray, or cry, read His word, listen to Christian music, or try to listen for His voice, I haven’t heard Him in this yet. And that’s just stressed me out more.

The Enemy sees this, and knows this, and has been squeezing that stronghold with a deathgrip over the past few months. It suffocates me more with each passing day, to the point I feel the creativity being sucked out of me.

That’s just what Satan wants to happen, because my mission is to use my creative gift of writing for God’s Kingdom, and he will do anything he can to stop that.

Satan knows how desperately I want this Stressor removed from my life. He knows how long it’s affected me, and he knows just what buttons to mash to try and make me snap. My mental health over the past few months has been at the worst point since my mother-in-law unexpectedly passed away in 2019. It’s gotten to the point that making a point to relax doesn’t help me at all anymore. For the past few months, I’ve felt permanently on edge.

How Has this Stress Affected My Creativity?

Well, since I mentioned my mental health in the previous paragraph, let me start with that first. While I’m not saying it to be true for everyone, poor mental health, at least for me in past cases, has always had a negative affect on my creativity.

Why is that? Some artists have massive creative breakthroughs through mental breakdowns. I mean, Van Gogh severed his ear and then painted Starry Night. Not that I want to endure anything crazy like that, but I wish I could just make some form of progress.

Lately, this stress has made it seem like I don’t have time or energy for any of my creative projects anymore. As of right now, I’m editing book two in my YA Romance trilogy, working on a secret project that should be revealed this summer if things will work out (more on that in a minute), and attempting to string letters into words for On the Flip Side. Oh, along with trying to summon the strength to keep marketing my existing books on at least one social media platform.

Part of the above excuse is true. Lately, it seems like every Saturday for the past few months, Josh and I have had some event to attend. Being I work full-time during the week, Saturday is my main workday for author projects. So, I’ve been attempting to squeeze some tasks in there, hoping it will make a difference. Make some progress. But, it just feels like I’m getting nowhere fast.

Trying to do anything on weeknights lately is laughable. I’m dog tired, and often dwelling on the Stressor, which I know is counterproductive, but I digress. There’s laundry to do, floors to vaccuum, and the worst part is that I’m feeling like this and we don’t even have kids yet. Part of me is terrified that if this Stressor isn’t removed from my life before we have kids, I’ll never write again.

Not to mention whenever I actually summon the energy to try and work on something for a few hours 1) Chrome on my laptop wants to run at a snail’s pace, 2) Atticus (a writing/formatting software I aim to review soon) won’t export my projects, 3) I’ve got some other technical or personal issue going on that has to be addressed. It seems like everything is purposely imploding and trying to tell me to just give up my author career altogether, honestly. And thinking that has only hindered my already terrible mental health.

How Can I Get Out of This Rut?

Honestly, all I know to do, all I’ve known to do, and all I feel I can do in this situation is continue to seek God. Even if He’s giving me the silent treatment. Even if I’m crying my eyes out and can only mutter “Jesus, please help me”. Even if I have to take weeks off of writing, or making Reels, or editing. Even if I end up having to postpone The Fall‘s release (which I really would rather not do) for a month or two later…

Maybe this is just another new season where I have to learn to adapt to all the newness of married life and juggling the pangs of adulthood with writing.

Maybe a season of change is right around the corner, and all the stress right now is preparing me for it.

Either way, God’s Will will be done. I can’t resist it.

Talk to Me, Arrowheads!

How does stress affect your creativity? Does it help you, or hurt you? Let me know how you cope in the comments!

Aim high, stay strong, and always hit your mark.

-Allyson 😀

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As an author and blogger, my goal is to teach writers that there is a way to write realistic, thought-provoking, redemptive Christian fiction that honors God while not sugarcoating the realities of the world. 

4 thoughts on “How Stress Affects Creativity

  1. Phew! You’ve been going through a lot. It may be exactly as you said in one of the closing statements in your post, that with this high level of stress, God is preparing you for something (even if the something is coming alongside someone else who needs a mentor through in a stressful season). I’ll keep praying for you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So sorry to hear that you’re having a tough time! I hope you’ll have a breakthrough soon!

    Stress, as a blanket statement, doesn’t have a consistent way of affecting my creativity. It definitely depends on what it is. When my daughter died, my creativity went through the roof because writing became my coping mechanism. Writing was the only thing I lived for during those few months, so some of my most precious work came from my worse life experience. But work stress and regular life stuff are usually a damper on my creativity because I’m just tired. I feel like I use up all of my energy during the work day so that when I get home, I’m just too tired to do anything. The only way that I combat that is I try to write on my lunch breaks or do something like marketing at some point throughout the day. Sometimes (big emphasis on the “sometimes”) I get so motivated doing the one little thing during the day that I get a burst of energy once I’m home and I’m able to combat the exhaustion. Another big motivation is doing writing sprints with other writers! Message me on Instagram if you’re up for some writing sprints, because it really does help to know that one other person–even miles and miles away–is fighting the lack of motivation and pushing themselves to write too! Even if it’s only 30 minutes, every little bit helps to combat that imposter syndrome and the “I don’t want to”s!

    Praying for you, girl! You got this!

    Liked by 1 person

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