Hollywood is full of larger than life characters – actors, agents, directors and producers –who bark out orders at their petrified assistants, and one up each other with faster cars, gazillion dollar homes, exotic vacation homes, gorgeous trophy wives, and mistresses, throw wild drug-fueled parties on their yachts.   And then we have the screenwriters.

In a town full of extroverts, egomaniacs and narcissists — the lowly screenwriters who dream and create larger than life characters in movies and TV have to adapt.  They have to learn to take care of themselves, and when necessary –get out of the way, or else get steamrolled by the lunatics who run the place.

Part of surviving means they have to learn how to interact with the more powerful players.  Writers take notes in this town, they certainly  don’t give them.  They learn to be humble and attentive and to sock all their money away –just in case.

Since writers tend to be generally high on the sensitivity scale, they  have to take care of themselves on an emotional and physical level.  That means eating right, exercising, and getting a good night’s sleep.  It also means spending quality time with your friends and family.  It means having a friend you can talk to.

Writers need to be prepared to check in with their emotions, especially if they find themselves outside their comfort zones, and pay attention to how they’re feeling. If all the networking, meetings, dealing with agents, or producers, is causing frustration, or anxiety, think about taking a break.

I recommend taking a walk, taking a drive, listening to music, go window shopping, find a park to relax in, anything to lift their spirits, and to ground themselves.  Take your family on vacation when you get the chance.

Writers should always remember their positives –their great attributes, their talents, their supporters, their loved ones, the things they love to do (including writing).

Become aware of when the stress is really getting to you.  Learn to stop the waves of negative thought that can overwhelm you.  Change the subject.  Redirect your thoughts to more relaxing, productive, and generally positive direction is to help enable them to “let go” of the negative thoughts and feelings.

Everyone in the world experiences negative self-talk and self-critical thoughts, sometimes fairly often. One way to deal with these thoughts is to acknowledge them, but don’t engage with them, or dwell on them.  Do something else.

Highly sensitive writers should pay attention to the pace at which they’re working and living. Anybody who’s worked in Hollywood knows that the pace is extremely fast. The deadlines are outrageous.  And producers always say, “we want it yesterday. “

If you know you may not react well to “sensory overload,” try not to schedule too many meetings in one day. Manage projects so the deadlines don’t all fall in the same week. Avoid rushing around town, dealing with a thousand things in one afternoon.

Another important set of tools for HSPs involves ways to help themselves relax, and unwind after a troubling few hours or few days.

One simple practice that works for a lot of people involves slow, diaphragmatic breathing, or what’s called “yoga breathing.”  You can do it anywhere.  After a couple minutes of yoga breathing, you should feel more relaxed.

You could also try self-hypnosis, during which you slowly descend into a different brain state, by closing their eyes and visualizing themselves (for example) walking down a long set of stairs, counting backwards from 100, until finding themselves removed from their stress.

Writers can also watch Yoga, Tai-Chi, or even self-hypnosis videos on line. Youtube has hundreds of these videos, all created to help people relax without drugs.   If you’d prefer to relax with drugs, you can probably skip to the end.

There are thousands of different types of meditation, so I’d just like to approach this subject in a general way. The goals of some of the “mindfulness” meditations involve, sitting quietly for a few minutes to maybe 20 minutes a day, with eyes closed, paying attention to breathing and “letting go” of thoughts.

I think the most valuable approach to meditation for writers is to open their mind to whatever floats through their consciousness. Don’t try to think of anything at all. Thoughts will arise.  Learn to ignore them.

While acknowledging the thoughts are there, don’t engage them, don’t dwell on them; just allow them to move along. We have these “automatic thoughts” all the time, and there tend to be more negative or critical thoughts than positive ones.

The practice writers get in “letting go” of such thoughts will make it easier to do so each time.  Just like the more exercising the muscles; mindfulness practice will exercise the mind, so it can “let go” of negative thoughts more and more easily with practice.

If you’re a highly sensitive writer, you should always remember that you have increased empathy, intuitive thoughts and feelings, and an ability to accomplish complex tasks inside your head.  That’s part of your gift.  It’s what puts you in touch with the emotions you write about.

If writers start feeling isolated, or down, I recommend scheduling events they know they’ll enjoy. Go to concerts, go out to movies with friends, go to the gym, swim in the ocean, go surfing, read other scripts, read books, watch TV, have sex. Put some of these fun activities on their calendar where they’ll see them. Always have something to look forward to.

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Image credit: Creative Commons, She thinks… 2010 by Michael Knapek, is licensed under CC By 2.0