Writers and Self-Care
We have this glorified image of what a writer should look like. The image is a writer slaving away on their manuscript day and night, at every waking moment. This is a great image to get a lot of work done, but it is not a very helpful image for us to hold ourselves up to, and here’s why.
While we do burn the midnight oil sometimes, this image has a major flaw. When idolizing this writer bent over and working at every moment, he/she guides us down an unhealthy road.
A writer who never stops to do anything else, is a writer that may produce work, but will get tired and eventually burn out. However, a writer who takes care of themselves will have a longer and happier journey through writing.
Why this image is unrealistic
I am a perfectionist, and if I don’t finish my quota of work for the day I get mad at myself (and it happens a lot). Recently though, I have come to learn that sometimes taking care of yourself is a way of making your writing and writing life better.
My personal struggles consist of two illnesses called anxiety and depression that really try to grind me to the ground in writing. My perfectionistic trait tells me that if I don’t write like I do on a good day than I am a failure, and if you have experienced depression of any kind you know that somedays you just can’t bring yourself to even do what you love.
Therefore, on these bad days I have two options. I can beat myself down because I didn’t do all the work I wanted to, or I can focus on my health and writing simultaneously.
So far, the second option has been more successful.
Now you don’t have to have a mental illness to be struggling. Life can throw things at us that cause us to struggle externally and internally. Your job may be draining and you can’t seem to get in the writing time you need, or maybe something has happened in your personal life or family that is taking up your time and energy. It is in these times that self-care is important.
And self-care doesn’t always look like taking a relaxing bath with a wonderful smelling bath bomb. Self-care also looks like making sure you drink enough water, eat well, maybe take a walk for fresh air and a change of scenery, or praying and reading the Bible.
Self-care also means giving yourself some playtime. Take time to spend time with family and friends, drawing or coloring, or watching that movie or TV episode you’ve been wanting to see.
Taking time to recharge yourself actually makes your writing better because you have given your mind time to wander and create subconsciously.
Give yourself some care today. Be sure you drink water when you’re writing, and do a fun activity that you’ve wanted to do but have been too busy to try. When your life is balanced, you are a writer who not only writes better, but who enjoys doing it even more.
What does your self-care look like today? Share in the comments.