Cutting back on writing and stress

Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been struggling with how to fit in the various writing I do (fiction, blogging) into what time is available after work and family. I’ve tried a number of different approaches, none of which have been successful. Having set various goals for myself, I get stressed when I don’t make them and that stress builds and builds until the thought of doing the work is no longer fun. So I have decided to cut back.

For the time being, I will no longer be writing the biweekly Wayward Time Traveler column for SF Signal. I wrote the column for over a year and had fun doing it, but given the smaller and smaller amounts of time I have available each week, I stressed over the deadline of each column more and more until it was no longer fun for me. I am extremely grateful to John DeNardo and all of the folks over at SF Signal for giving me the opportunity to write the column. One of the best things about writing for SF Signal have been the friends I have made. And I do hope that as things change and I better learn to manage my time, I’ll be able to resume it again in the future.

I am also cutting back on fiction writing for a while. I’d set a goal this year to write 500 words of new fiction each day. It didn’t seem too difficult. I could do it in 30 minutes. The problem is evening finding that 30 minutes has become tricky. And when I don’t get the writing in, I get stressed. And the more stressed I am, the more moody I get. And the more moody I am, the less fun I am to be around. Writing is supposed to be fun and not at all stressful. So I am giving myself some time off. I don’t know how long. When the time comes that the urge to write again can’t be contained (and doesn’t feel forced) I’ll resume. This was a very difficult decision because it seems like I should be trying my best to take advantage of the momentum I’ve gained from the various stories I’ve sold. But my sanity and my family come first and the truth is, I need the break from the day-to-day stress that it causes.

My Vacation in the Golden Age column will continue uninterrupted. I want to be clear about that. Those posts are not going away. I do much of my Vacation reading on my lunch hour and that has truly become a desperately-needed vacation in the middle of my day. I love reading the old magazines and writing about them and I plan to continue to do so until I’ve completed all 138 issues of Astounding that make up the Golden Age.

This blog is not going anywhere. I will continue to post here, more or less daily. I will still be writing about science fiction here, as well as technology and the Little Man and Little Miss. The difference between posting here and writing my Wayward Time Traveler column is psychological, I suppose. Posting here doesn’t feel like an obligation. I have no schedule or deadline to meet. I can post when I want, and if I skip a day here or there, I don’t feel too badly about it. So you can expect things to continue here as they have been, and I hope that what I write about will continue to be of interest to the folks who visit. One thing you will likely see less of, in the short term at least, are posts about writing. There, I just need a break.

There are other ways in which I am trying to cut back and reduce some of this stress, but the things I’ve listed here are the ones that will likely concern readers the most. I must say, it was an incredibly difficult decision to give up the SF Signal column and to take a hiatus on fiction-writing. The decision was made only after I looked at every other option. There are ways that I probably could have continued, but I didn’t see them as viable and I was and am in desperate need of a reduction in my stress level. So there you have it. All of the Wayward Time Traveler columns I’ve written–25 of them–are archived over at SF Signal.

I must say that just knowing that I don’t have the column to write every two weeks, or the pressure to get 500 words of fiction done every day is like a weight off my shoulders. That much, at least, feels pretty good.


  1. Sorry to hear you’re feeling stressed. That is a lot to handle though. Word count goals have never worked for me either. I just write when I have the time and find that works much better for me. I get cranky though if I haven’t written in a couple of days But you’re right… family comes first.


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