Stressed Out

Outtake 204

Stressed Out

by Cait Collins


I recently purchased an adult coloring book. I thought getting out crayons and colored pencils would relax me. Instead I stressed over everything. Was I using the right shade of brown? Did I have to conform to standard colors of red, black, white or blue for a lighthouse Maybe the flowers did look like magnolias, but can I get away with coloring them a light shade of lavender? But the ultimate question became, “Why am I doing this?”

I began to realize I often have the same issues with my writing. I have allowed the details, my perfectionist attitude, and other peoples’ opinions to rob me of the joy of writing my story. I have come to the conclusion that sometimes the single word is not nearly as rewarding as a good manuscript. When I obsess over a word or a setting, I lose the spirit of the work. The story becomes stale and tired. But when I relax, when I allow the creative process to rule, the pace is corrected, and the story flows better. Instead of closing the mind to possibilities, thoughts are freed and the words flow.

A relaxed approach to writing does not mean the proper words are unimportant. The opposite is true. A word, a name, or a place has great value, but working with an open mind permits a more omniscient view of the whole work. And like the pages of my coloring book, the details and the shading can be applied in the editing process. And when the mind is not occupied with minute details, the joy of the creation shines through out the story. The pace is right and the emotions genuine.

Am I going to give up my coloring book? Absolutely not. Instead, I plan to color like a kid, paying no attention to whether I stay inside the lines or the tree has red leaves instead of green ones. I’m going to color my way. And I will write my way.


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