For The Love of Writing: Author Joan Swan

A New Breed of Inspiration – by Joan Swan

Writing is a very anxiety-ridden profession.  Beyond the will-my-publisher-buy-my-option-contract worries and the how-will-I-write-three-books-in-three-months impossibilities, I’m referring to the actual act of writing—every page, every paragraph, every sentence.  Heck, sometimes choosing every word causes stress.

Eric Maisel, a renowned psychologist specializing in creative coaching, suggests cracking an egg into a bowl before a writing session as a physical metaphor for breaking through the shell of anxiety that coats the action of writing.

I find that a little…slimy…for my taste.  Besides, if I cracked an egg for every time I grew anxious during a writing session—when my characters are hiding secrets, when my villain is planning to kill someone, when my hero and heroine kiss for the first time, when my internal editor kicks on (like every other sentence)—I’d need thirty acres of chickens out my back door.

But I get his very valid point.  Relieving anxiety keeps a writer writing.

Meet my anxiety reducers.

Indie and Scooter


Indie is my pup.  He is a mix of … we’re not sure, though lots of guesses have been made.  We picked him up from the animal shelter as a puppy and he’s now three years old.  I can’t even imagine living without him.  There is no way to explain what a fabulous dog he is – a completely integrated member of our family.  So much so that he sleeps in our bed, under the covers, up against my husband’s legs.  Yes, we LOVE our Indie.

Scooter is my mom’s pup.  He’s an AKC Beagle.  We picked him up from a home breeder near my mother’s home.  He’s now a year old.  Since I’m not with Scooter as much, he’s grown up under a whole different set of rules and is quite a handful, though no less loveable.

My day job is 4 hours from where I live, so once a week, I stay with my parents while I work 3 days and then travel home again, and I’m lucky enough to have a fabulous pup at each location.

You’ve probably heard how owning a dog is good for your health.  All sorts of claims have been made— how owners live longer, how it lowers blood pressure, increases quality of life, etc.  Well, for me, these dogs have another benefit—they reduce the inherent anxiety of writing.

When I have either Indie or Scooter lying beside me as I write, I am initially less stressed, because, of course, I’m in the very best company.  When I’ve been writing too long, they stir and remind me to let them out, which also reminds me to take a break.  When I’m up and down too much, they wander back into my bedroom (where I write) and plop back on the bed, reminding me that’s where I should be, with my fingers tap-tap-tapping away on my keyboard.

When I get to a part in my story where my characters are fighting or my plot is failing and causing my anxiety to rise, I take a pup break.  A few minutes of snuggling or playing with Indie or Scooter and my mind is back in the right place again.

And, boy, can those pups plot!  I swear they are telepathic brainstormers, because when I talk to them about a knot I can’t work out, it miraculously seems to unravel.

My miracle pups keep me sane and happy.  They never run out of that golden unconditional love and they’re always there when my writing needs a relaxation fix.

Forget diamonds, these babies are this girl’s (and author’s) best friends.

Editor’s Note: Joan’s debut novel, FEVER, releases from Kensington Brava in April 2012. Book 2 in the series, BLAZE, releases fall 2012. You can learn more about Joan by visiting her website. 


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