A lot of people adhere to the idea that you MUST write every single day. If you don’t, you’re not committed enough!
In the 17 years I’ve been writing professionally, I’ve heard that advice more than any other tidbit. Too many times to count, really.
I used to believe it. I would write Every. Single. Day–No. Matter. What.
I wrote even if I was dead tired.
I wrote even if it meant I was more focused on the page instead of my daughter’s soccer game, or my son’s band performance.
I wrote even if my well was dry and I had nothing to say.
Because if I didn’t make time for writing, then I wasn’t fully dedicated to my writing path.
And doing things other than writing would only take away from my precious writing time.
What I didn’t realize then—and what I still struggle with at times—is that giving myself time to do real life activities—and just unwinding—is crucial to my continued mental health as a writer.
I no longer believe I have to write every day. I don’t, because at some point along the way, I realized that sometimes I need time to recharge. Sometimes I need to forget all about my writing life and focus on the life I’m living in real time. And sometimes sleep is more important.
When I take time for myself in whatever manner that works for me, my writing time is far more productive.
In the writing and publishing world, the idea of ‘recharging’ or ‘refilling the well’ is recognized as very necessary. ‘Butt in chair’ is another maxim. So how to you reconcile ‘self-care’ with the idea that you must write daily?
Developing habits that support your mental health is a place to start. What that looks like is different for each of us. I like walking my dogs, spending time with my kids and husband, hiking, yoga, baking, soaking the tub, art journaling, and reading.
As you can see, ‘self-care’ isn’t some woo-woo, ultra touchy concept. It is whatever you make it. It is whatever you need it to be in order to let yourself recharge and breathe.
Your ‘self-care’ may look really different than mine.
No matter what your ‘self-care’ looks like, I believe it’s fair to say that taking care of your creative mind is absolutely essential.
Here are 7 ways to take care of yourself on the regular. The WriterSpark Self Care and Refilling the Creative Well Infographic
Get Enough Sleep. To keep your writing mind healthy, then, make sure you get enough sleep. How much sleep you need depends on you. Conventional wisdom says 7-9 hours is best for most adults. Getting good sleep helps keep your heart healthy, helps decrease stress, can make you feel more energetic the next day, and can help with your memory.
Meditate. There are so many health benefits to mediation. A regular meditation practice can help manage stress, improve memory, help you sleep, lower blood pressure, and decrease anxiety and depression. All these benefits make mediation a pretty good return on investment. There are many meditation apps, YouTube channels, and books to get you started.
Take a Walk. Writing begets a sedentary life. This makes getting up and walking all the more important. Getting outside is even better. There are plenty of studies showing the benefits of spending time outdoors. It ups our intake of vitamin D, it increases energy, it can lower blood pressure, it can help keep the weight off, it can help combat anxiety and depression, and can increase clarity by letting us clear our minds. That’s all pretty good!
Read a Good Book. If you are on any type of writing journey, chances are you are a reader. Don’t let the fact that you are writing a book take away from enjoying the books other people have written. Escape into new worlds with books.
Practice Yoga. I earned my 200 hour yoga teacher training certificate a few years ago. Doing yoga multiple times a week really allowed me to focus on my body in conjunction with my mind. I practice yoga regularly and it’s one of the best ‘self-care’ activities I do.
Hit the Gym. If you’re the type of person who enjoys your gym membership, use it! I really love Zumba and I (sort of) like—but mostly think it’s really hard—Body Pump. My commitment to the gym ebbs and flows, and I give myself permission for that to be okay. I go when I can and when inspiration strikes. That’s good enough for me.
Do Something Fun. This could be anything! I art journal, bake, tend to my plants, paint, and peruse cookbooks. These are just a few hobbies and activities I enjoy. Whether you start a new activity or revisit one that has slipped away, take some time to enjoy it.
The bottom line is that writing isn’t everything. Or maybe it is, but it’s still important to take care of your mind and body!
Here’s to your health.
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