Self-care Ideas for Writers
Arianna Huffington wrote: “Nothing kills creativity faster than burnout.” As someone who is expected to be creative daily, I whole-heartedly agree. Writing a book can be lonely and isolating and many authors and writers are working a day job as well. (I did a whole post on balancing a day job with writing a book here.) Add to that, feelings of self-doubt and potential rejection along with a global pandemic and it’s no surprise that self-care has become such a buzzword with the internet awash with self-care quotes and tips.
There’s also a myth that ‘real writers’ suffer and while I agree that writing a book isn’t all unicorns and rainbows, there should definitely be a feeling of enjoyment…otherwise what’s the point?
So, if you feel like your creativity has all but disappeared, here are a few ideas to bring it back to life.
1. Stay Connected
Most writers I know, myself included, will happily spend whole weeks by themselves but research shows that staying connected keeps us healthy, reduces stress by producing more oxytocin, and improves productivity. It also helps you live longer. By all means, relish the quiet time that is so important for writers but don’t forget to stay connected every so often with (safe) IRL interactions.
2. Simply Your Life
It’s estimated that we make 35,000 conscious decisions a day and that the average person switches between tasks more than 300 times a day - it’s no wonder we feel exhausted! Avoid decision fatigue with a little weekly planning. Planning your meals (apparently, we make over 200 decisions a day just about food!), scheduling your writing time, and choosing what to wear the night before are just a few ways to help you conserve valuable thinking time.
3. Assess Your Lifestyle
We all know we should be exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet but how often do we slip into bad habits? In the last two weeks leading up to my manuscript deadline, I spent ten to twelve hours in an office chair only getting up for bathroom breaks and to say goodnight to my kids. I even ate my meals while working. Instead of the euphoria I should have experienced when finishing a book, I gained a couple of extra kilos, came down with an infection, and was feeling rather despondent about the whole thing. My body had rebelled, and I found myself googling self-care for mental health. Luckily, I quickly got back on track but it taught me that even short-term neglect has an impact.
4. Seek Inspiration
I read a huge amount but it’s only when I realised I was analysing books rather than enjoying them for pleasure that I started to seek out other forms of inspiration. While you’re more likely to find me watching a film than browsing an art gallery, luxuriating in any form of creative expression can help recharge your batteries and if you can enjoy it with someone else, even better.
5. Take A Break
I remember reading an article about Danielle Steele which reported that she wrote for 20 to 22 hours a day. That may work for some people but unfortunately not for me. We’re bombarded on social media by the ‘hustle’ culture and comparison is natural but it’s about deciding what suits you and your lifestyle. One of the great benefits of being a writer is having the privilege of designing your own schedule so make sure to include breaks and holidays as and when you need them.
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