Locus of Control—Stress and Writing

March 19, 2013 in Musings, Reblogging Project, Writing

So, something we’ve talked about in Wyrdsmiths from time to time is how life stress affects our writing. There seem to be two basic models.

1. Stress = no writing.

2. Stress = more writing.

Under number one, the writer needs a place of calm to work from, and stress prevents that. It’s more complex than that of course, but I’m much more qualified to talk about the second model because that’s where I land.

Under number two, the writer finds writing to be one place in their world where they can exert some real control and so does more and more writing work.

As I said above, I tend to the second of those models, though there does come a point where stress can push me over the edge into reduced productivity—it never seems to truly stop me. I think in my case that’s an interaction between control issues and being a happy writer. Writing makes me happy, and when I’m happy I tend to write more. It’s a positive feedback loop. There’s the converse negative feedback loop, not writing makes me unhappy, being unhappy means I write less, etc. But I’m simply not as prone to that because being unhappy also makes me want to do something to exert control over the situation, and for me work is one of the best ways to re-exert control, which breaks the negative cycle and kicks in the positive one.

(Originally published on the Wyrdsmiths blog October 8th 2006. Reposted as part of the reblogging project)

The original post also included these questions, but, as I’ve elected not to enable comments at kellymccullough.com, I’m separating them out below and people’s answers can be found at the Wyrdsmiths version:
So, how about y’all? Do you fall into mode 1 or mode 2? Or something completely different? How does mood interact with writing for you?