C h a z z W r i t e s . c o m

See all my books at AllThatChazz.com.

When Everything Falls Apart

10 years of writing and publishing.

To my great surprise, I looked up from my keyboard last night and realized I started Ex Parte Press ten years ago. Wow! That decade went fast! And so many books! Cool! In theory, I’d like to celebrate. However, given the state of the world, I’m not in that sort of mood. I picked up a little bottle of yeast that will not expire until 2022 and said, “Sure, you’ll be alive in a couple of years, but what about me?”

I had such big plans for 2020. We all did. We’re at the halfway mark and, for me, the last six months were a write off. Oh, I often seemed busy. I messed around with some marketing objectives. My tasks, no matter how small, often expanded to the time allotted. There was always more research to do and preparations to make. I did a little of writing here and there, but I didn’t lay down my usual decent word counts. I was out of my writing routine and this Stella could not seem to get his groove back. I completed a book doctoring project for another author at flank speed. It’s often easier to honor our obligations to others than it is to take care of ourselves.

COVID-19 was and remains an enormous distraction. I suffer health anxiety, so I’ve spent a lot of time on issues beyond my control. I’ve washed my hands raw, lost sleep and, at odd hours, pulled out the Lysol wipes to cleanse doorknobs, banisters and…well everything. That’s one form of self-care, but stress management and mental hygiene are important, too.

Past time for a change

I decided it was time to focus on what I can control. My office is a mess and the household chores are overwhelming. Each day, I put something away, recycle, throw something out, or clean something new. We have a quarantine garden so I’m taking care of that. I’ve always regarded gardening as an old man chore, but I was wrong. I get it now. It is calming to grow what you eat, and more interesting than I expected.

I walk as much as I can and, in fear of the ventilator, I have to get my BMI down. I went vegan again and have lost 7 pounds in three weeks so far. As I write this, I’m scheduled to speak with my doctor on Monday morning to talk about some blood test results. That doesn’t help my health anxiety one bit, but I taught relaxation techniques for years. I just have to practice what I preached:

Focus on what you can control.

I’ve become more conscious of how I spend my time and what I think about. Call it mindfulness. When the fear rises, I watch it roll in, as if I’m an outside observer, taking in my reactions instead of wallowing in the anxiety. It’s hard to maintain and I do have my moments. However, by eliminating needless tertiary stress, my anxiety is usually manageable.

And I’m writing again.

I pared down my overly ambitious plans to manageable goals that are time-specific. I haven’t published since Christmas. However, I have two book projects I’m very excited about that are in varying stages of production. One is Crime and Punishment in the middle of an apocalypse. The other is a prequel to This Plague of Days. I hope to have them both out in late fall.

I’ve noticed that since I’ve become more aware and regimented about what I eat, I’m more mindful of everything else. Yes, everything fell apart. It doesn’t have to stay that way. I’m putting it back together and re-engineering it.

I think I’ve proved a well-known rule again:

How you do one thing is how you do everything.

~ If you want to see what I’m eating (and a bunch of other book stuff), follow me on Instagram @robertchazzchute.

Check out my books and subscribe to my author site, AllThatChazz.com.

Filed under: getting it done, pandemic, publishing, the writing life, , , , , , , , , , ,

Writers, Stress and, of course, Iron Man

We’re poor, starving artists. Of course, we’re stressed out. Why wouldn’t we be? I’ve often given lectures on stress management, so I’m going to give you a quick summary of what we’re normally told about getting all zenny. Then I’ll tell you the one useful trick you’ll remember and maybe even use.

Round One: 

Exercise, eat right, manage your time, use positive self-talk, deep breathing, be social with your support network, get lots of sleep, meditate, unplug more and say no more often.

Round Two:

For any stress, there are four responses: avoid it, alter it, accept it or act on it head on and solve that damn problem.

Round Three (and what you can really do, most of the time):

As suggested in Rounds One and Two, we can do everything that’s right for ourselves and go all goop.com and become perfect Gwyneth Paltrows, but you probably don’t have enough time, money and/or servants for that. In fact, trying to be Gwyneth Paltrow would add more stress to my life. I don’t look as good when I go blonde, for one thing. Also, I’m not a top Hollywood actress. I’m not even a bottom Hollywood actress working at Hooters. I confess, I’ll never play Pepper Potts. 

The answer, obviously, is: Be Iron Man.

Many people have the idea that the goal of life is to be relaxed all the time. You know what? Relaxation is great. It’s also bullshit. It comes in fits and spurts. Being relaxed all the time isn’t achievable for most mortals. Relaxation is often fleeting and, when it’s achieved, it can be shattered by a single bill, a phone call or a missile attack by the Mandarin. Not all stress is negative. Some sense of urgency is needed to ever get a book written, for instance. 

Yes, certainly take care of yourself and do the best you can, but stress-free is a high bar. Stress-resistance is armour in a troubled world.

Stress-resistant is more doable.

Think of Robert Downey Jr.’s character, Tony Stark, after he beat the booze (and Robert Downey Jr., the actor, post-drugs). In stressful situations (say…alien invasion) his reaction in the moment is to:

1. Crack a joke.

2. Think his way out of his circumstance.

And how do you Avoid, Alter, Accept or Act? Find the funny (subverting your rage with humor) and think your way out. When we panic or get angry, we get stupid and make things worse for ourselves. Do not catastrophize. Pause. Joke. Attack the problem with your brain. Attacking problems with your heart is a prescription for heart disease.

Thinking about the problem and holding on to your sense of humor might even keep you from strangling the door-to-door con artist who won’t leave your doorstep. That happened to me today and the twerp in question got to slink away without me denting his forehead on my “No soliciting” sign. Why? Because I kept my head and made jokes at his expense until he went away. 

Gee, I hope that jerk reads this. I think I stressed him out.

~ Robert Chazz Chute is nicer in person than you’d expect. Read the suspense and horror here. Listen to the All That Chazz podcast and the Cool People Podcast here. Nah, just buy and read the books. That would be cool. And if you’re Robert Downey Jr? Please have Jarvis contact me. You’d be great as the dad in This Plague of Days.

Filed under: Writers, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Winner of Writer's Digest's 2014 Honorable Mention in Self-published Ebook Awards in Genre

The first 81 lessons to get your Buffy on

More lessons to help you survive Armageddon

"You will laugh your ass off!" ~ Maxwell Cynn, author of Cybergrrl

Available now!

Fast-paced terror, new threats, more twists.

An autistic boy versus our world in free fall

Suspense to melt your face and play with your brain.

Action like a Guy Ritchie film. Funny like Woody Allen when he was funny.

Jesus: Sexier and even more addicted to love.

You can pick this ebook up for free today at this link: http://bit.ly/TheNightMan

For my author site and the Chazz network, click the blood spatter below.

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