Although self-care is important for any profession or life circumstance, there is a clear relevance for it among writers. Writing requires a lot of energy. When you write, you rely on yourself to have the energy, creativity, motivation, and confidence to put ideas and sentences together. The ability to maintain this self-reliant status ends up being a lot of pressure that we put on ourselves. Here are seven self-care tips that writers can use to make their writing experience a lot more enjoyable.
Make an effort to sleep for 6-8 restful hours on week nights. You may find that the greatest ideas wake you up in the middle of the night. Those moments of inspiration are indeed valid and precious. But so is your sleep. I have become well acquainted with the behaviours of inspiration myself. When you’re seeking inspiration, it never wants to come to you. But then when you want to sleep, inspiration comes around and there seems to be that nagging urge to indulge that inspiration. From my experience, it’s best to attend to those nagging ideas and then go back to sleep. If you have to do this on your computer, avoid the internet and any distractions that come with it.
Make sleep a number one priority for your writing. If you find it difficult to leave your writing, then at least participate in some “active recovery.” Make it a point to get away from technology an hour before bedtime. You can spend that hour journalling or reading.
Writing is in itself an act of organization. You’re organizing ideas, facts, opinons, and emotions. Do yourself and your writing a favour and give them tender loving care. And the best way to provide that treatment is by using an organized approach. When you are organized you will find greater clarity and confidence in expressing your ideas.
Know when to stop & take a break
Maybe you have writer’s block, maybe you are not motivated to write. Whatever your reason may be, check in with yourself and trust yourself to take a break. Maybe it seems unproductive. However, are you really productive if you’re spending your time and energy mulling in doubt and frustration? Set a realistic timeframe for your break. If you can’t afford to take a few hours or even a day off, give yourself 10 minutes. It’s amazing what ideas can come to surface when you step away for that short period time. The perceived difficulty suddenly becomes easy.
Minimize your negative self-talk
For many of us, writing is an act of vulnerability. It’s an act in which we project our inner selves outward. Part of what allows to have the confidence to project that side of ourselves is what we give ourselves on the inside. Self-talk included. Writers tend to be very critical of their abilities. Even the most talented writers are self-critical. Self- criticism can be used as fuel to motivate or self destruct. To avoid reaching that self-destructive stage, set a limit. If Morrie from Tuesdays with Morrie can do it, so can you. As a man who was suffering from ALS, he set a time limit for the amount of sadness he would allow himself to feel for his condition. Allow yourself 30 minutes if you need to and then be done with it. You have better ways to spend your time and release your talent than to wallow in your own self-talk.
Spend time with people who support your creativity and ideas
A good way to silence that negative self-talk is to spend time with people who genuinely support you. As much as it’s important to spread your ideas, it’s equally important to protect your ideas. Don’t share those ideas until you feel confident to do so. And if you can’t find confidence within yourself, seek support from the people you trust. You don’t have to spend a lot of time. Sharing some ideas or a rough draft with someone you trust can be incredibly helpful.
When you exercise, you’re giving time for yourself. The boost of endorphins puts your mind in a great place to feel confident about your ideas. During some of my best workouts, those moments of clarity are palpable. I feel ideas start to crystallize and truly make sense. Even something simple as a walk can be a great exercise for your writing. Many writers have been known to go for walks as a means to seek inspiration and insight for their writing.
Take some time for creative writing
If you’re not currently engaged in a creative writing project, I would highly encourage you to do so. Giving yourself that time to write creativity is like a snack for the mind. Snacks can be tempting and they can keep nagging at you until you indulge them. So indulge in that creative writing snack, savour it, and then let move on. Bask in the beam of inspiration when it strikes you. You never know when you might find it again.
Writing is an activity that is enjoyable for many people. But it’s good to know when it’s time to take care of yourself so that you can continue to make it an enjoyable experience. My rule of thumb is that if it doesn’t feel enjoyable, then you may not be doing it right. Your readers will feel your passion and enjoyment when you are taking care of yourself and enjoying the process of putting wonderful content together.