Thursday, April 29, 2010

But I'm So Busy!

April was insane for me. By the 30th, I had the partial for my March '11 Blaze due. I had the galley edits for my Sept. '10 Blaze due. And I had revisions and an epilogue for my Dec. '10 Blaze novella due. Just typing both exhausts me and makes me feel a little like I'm bragging, which I definitely don't mean to be! Don't get me wrong, this is a major dream come true. I'm ecstatic to have my contracts and the deadlines!

But when they hit like this, all at the same time, I stress hugely. And while I've got a solid handle on the stress eating (avoid it, ignore it, pretend strawberries are a wonderful substitute for chocolate), I don't have a good handle on the time factor.

And when I stress, I cocoon. Some people get a little manic. They clean, exercise, do tons of stuff. Me? I want to nap. I stare at the computer screen. I write words over and over and over, then delete them and wish I hadn't. I refuse to cut back on commitments to my kids or husband or house, because stress always brings out my inner SuperWoman urges. I write endless to-do lists.

What I don't do? I don't want to exercise. I seem to go into automatic "but I don't have enough time" mode and think of a million and twelve reasons to blow off exercising.

Exercise. You know, that stuff that releases stress. That energizes both the mind and body. That makes all those really cool hormones and endorphins and nifty things that would be soooo good for me. Those things that would, of course, make me stress less and help me achieve all my goals.

Nifty, huh? And my mind keeps trying to talk me into avoiding it. I, of course am doing my best to ignore my mind. So far, I'm doing pretty well. I've managed to keep my workouts to at least 5 days a week, even in high stress (6 is my norm). I'll admit, I'm exercising with a bit less intensity about half those days since I end up running at 9pm instead of 2pm like I'd prefer, but I'm still getting the run in, right? And I haven't given in to take a week off. All good.

So here's my question. When you get overwhelmed, is exercise --or writing-- the first thing to go on your to-do list? How often do you tell yourself you just don't have time? How often do you find yourself making excuses that you know are flimsy, to get out of exercising --or writing?

Tawny Weber writes hot, spicy stories for Harlequin Blaze. In January 2010, her novella, YOU HAVE TO KISS A LOT OF FROGS, was out in the Blazing Bedtime Story anthology and her next full length Blaze,, RIDING THE WAVES, will be out in September 2010. Come by and visit her on the web at


Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) on April 29, 2010 at 9:19 AM said...

Tawny, this is a constant struggle, the fitting everything in. The writing or the exercise, or sometimes both, have been shoved to the side at different times. And then I end up feeling guilty about it, which only adds to the stress. I'm a bit like you though in that I just want to sleep and hopefully things will be easier when I wake up.

Michelle Butler on April 29, 2010 at 10:22 AM said...

It seems to be one of the great questions - why is it that when I'm feeling overwhelmed, busy and stressed, it is so easy to stop exercising when it's the one thing that will make me feel the best, healthiest, able to handle the situation? I'll say I don't have time or I'm tired, but I may find the time to slip back into unhealthier habits. It's quite the conundrum. I don't have any words of wisdom. I'd love it if someone had the solution! :)

Diane Gaston on April 29, 2010 at 10:49 AM said...

I know that impending deadlines usually have given me an excuse to return to bad eating habits, like eating a bag of jelly beans or skittles instead of lunch....but I'm determined not to do that this impending deadline!

Exercise is the hardest, always the last on my list, even though I enjoy going to Curves and it gives me a perfect break during the writing day.

Heather Snow on April 29, 2010 at 10:15 PM said...

Ummm...considering I haven't worked out in a couple of weeks (and I've been writing like mad), I think I have my answer.


I know what you're saying is true, but feels like it just takes so much out of my day. Why can't I make it a priority when I know I should?

Tawny on April 30, 2010 at 12:22 AM said...

Trish, I hear ya. I do think naps are a good thing, too :-) Sometimes just a half hour of downtime lets us get all the rest done. Well, at least it does when that half hour doesn't turn into three hours LOL

Tawny on April 30, 2010 at 12:32 AM said...

Michelle, I wonder if it has to do with comfort conditioning? When we're stressed, we turn to things that bring us instant comfort. Often food, or hugs, or a great book. Instant gratification. Exercise really does offer instant gratification in terms of more energy, but most of us think of it as a means to lose weight, to stay in shape -so the payoff is more of a long-term thing?

I'm sure you can tell I'm thinking while typing so this theory is pretty raw LOL.

but like you say, I wish someone would figure out why we don't do things that are good for us when we're stressed. It'd sure make being stressed out a lot more worthwhile!

Tawny on April 30, 2010 at 12:34 AM said...

Diane, isn't it wacky? We love how we feel when we exercise. We de-stress and energize. We are more productive. And it's last on our list.

I've even tried turning my list upside down, but it still ends up last :-P

Tawny on April 30, 2010 at 12:36 AM said...

Heather, its frustrating, isn't it!!!

I even write at night, because of my kid's schedule, and I still find myself trying to blow off my workout in the afternoon.

To heck with all the weight-loss pills (that don't work) - I want to see some brilliant scientist come up with the answer to this for us :-)

Sally Kilpatrick on April 30, 2010 at 6:44 AM said...


I struggle with these ideas daily. There are so many things I want to do/know I should do, but I don't do them even when I know I will feel better. (e.g. exercise, write, eat healthy)

Funny you should write on this topic because I just discovered a little place in Romans where Paul and I can agree--it made me feel better so anyone interested can take a look at Romans 7:15.

I'm with you. If I could figure out a way to make myself do what I ought to do, then I would definitely be willing to pay for that!

Michelle Butler on April 30, 2010 at 10:17 AM said...

Tawny, you may be on to something. I have been working hard to change the way I think of exercise - to think of it as something fun, something I do for myself that I enjoy, really focus on the benefits it gives me immediately - and not just long-term benefits. That helps. It's just been tougher for me the past few months. I need to get back into a better routine. I'm leaving town for a couple of weeks in mid-May, but when I return, re-establishing a good routine is going to be a priority.

Michelle Butler on April 30, 2010 at 10:27 AM said...

Agreeing with Paul? :) Thanks for sharing. I looked it up. It's comforting to know that this struggle - to do the good things I say I want to do - is about as old as time. Just part of the human condition.

I've read a lot on this - particularly in terms of writing but also diet/weight loss. I became the queen of all those touchy-feely writing books and workshops for awhile. One of the things I did read, that is challenging, is that there may be some kind of emotional issue in the way. You want a, but you also want b, and wanting b sabotages your efforts for a. You may substitute "believe b", "fear b", etc. for want b.

While I can still struggle with this, one of the ways I combat it is to find new ways of thinking about stuff that helps me move forward. Honestly, what has saved me each time I really struggle with the weight loss, feelings of frustration, upset at lack of progress, made at myself for doing stupid eating stuff, etc. is that I promised myself I'd give my all for a year (made in 1/09 and renewed in 1/10). That means, I just have to keep moving forward, asking myself what I can do to help myself move forward, etc. Eventually, I get through the hard patch. And, I may have even lost weight during the hard patch. Like I've said before, sometimes it's hard, and sometimes, it's easy, but both ways work.

In terms of writing, I've also had to learn different ways of thinking about it - ways that help me produce, move forward, etc. Focusing on the process and not outcomes, setting time goals instead of outcome goals, focusing on the immediate rewards and not longterm goals - really just zen stuff. :)

There have been some GREAT touchy feely writing books that have helped me TONS along the way. My 3 favorite are: Anne Lamott's bird by bird, Dorothea Brande's On Becoming a Writer, Dennis Palumbo's Writing From the Inside Out: Transforming Your Psychological Blocks to Release the Writer Within.

Honestly, all the books on our bibliography for the healthy writer workshop this summer have helped me a lot. See:

Sally Kilpatrick on April 30, 2010 at 1:23 PM said...

Thanks, Michelle! I'm going to check out some of your touchy feely books-but first I have to finish The Help and Save the Cat.

As for Paul, he and I don't gibe on a few things. Finding that verse helped us to reconcile a bit.

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