Caring for the Writer Outside – Part 2

Last post, I talked about caring for your inner writerly-self by consuming good art, and finding inspiration in the things you see and listen to and read.  The second part of this Writerly Care discussion is on Self Care – that is, taking care of the Outer You, the shell you walk around in every day.  We as human beings – and especially as writers – tend to forget to take care of ourselves sometimes.

Here’s the thing: I feel like it’s so much easier to access that creative side of my brain when my body is well taken care of.

I’ve found some pretty straightforward self-care methods that help me feel like a better, more energized person – so therefore also a better writer.  Here’s my top 5 tips for caring for the Outside of the Writer:

1.  Drink Water

*Whispers* okay I know this one is a bit cliche, and writers hate cliche things.  But really, folks.  Drink water instead of soda.  Drink water when you feel hungry.  Drink water as you write.  Drink ice water when you want something to make you feel better.  Drink water.

2.  Exercise (or at least go outside!)

I can feel your reactions.  You’re all doing this:

cas head tilt

“Hmmm, exercise?  No thanks.  I’d rather shoot myself in the foot.  Then I’d have a valid excuse to sit in my comfy chair all day.”

But listen.  I’m not saying you have to run a marathon.  I’m saying get up from your laptop and do 20 Jumping Jacks.  I’m saying take your dog on a walk.  Who knows? Maybe you’ll find some plot bunnies while you’re out walking around.  I know that for me, personally, I feel a lot better after exercising.  My mind is clear, my body is tired-in-a-good-way, and I feel energized and ready to face the day.  And when I do sit down to write, it’s that much easier to focus, sink into my world, and let the words flow from my fingertips.  A small writer’s block is often cured by some sunshine and fresh air.

And if the outdoors is too much for you, get up and put on some music, and dance around like a drunk giraffe (as demonstrated by the 11th Doctor in the gif below).  It will get your blood flowing and your ideas churning.

drunk giraffe

 

3.  Eat (something) Healthy

I like to munch a lot as I write, so it’s important that I have some healthy snacks in my house.  If I consume chips and chocolate all day long, my body and mind feel yucky.  That’s not to say that you can’t eat chocolate.  Please, eat chocolate.  But also find some fruits or veggies that you enjoy.  Writing is hard, you guys, so why not fuel your physical self with good things instead of yucky things?

Also, I’ve heard some of you lovely writerly folk say that on a particularly intense writing day, you simply forget about meals.  I get it: there have been times when I’m mid-chapter and forget about eating lunch or something.  So, I recommend you stock your refrigerator (or, if you’re a college kid, your lil’ mini-fridge) full of healthy snacks like yogurt and fruit before a big writing day.  Then you can grab something nourishing and get right back to it.

eat you'll feel better lupin.gif

 

4.  Get Enough Sleep (at least occasionally)

I know we have this idea of the Brilliant Writer being up at 2am, madly pounding away at their keyboard.  But that doesn’t have to be true.  *Checks time* 1:58 am.  Hehehe.

Sure, if inspiration rears its ugly head at midnight, get up and type for a while.  But also, try to give yourself enough rest.  Don’t be afraid to take a night off to go to bed early and recharge your body.  You’re not going to be your best writerly self when you’re brain’s got a Tiredness Cloud hovering about.

Yes, coffee is a writer’s best friend.  But sometimes sleep is a good pal, too.

coffee

 

5.  Forgive Yourself

Okay, this last one is a more about your inner writer than your outer one.  But this one is an important thing for me to remember: writing begins with forgiveness.  I grabbed this idea from this blog post, but let put it this way: don’t let yesterday’s failure affect today’s success.  Forgive yourself for not writing yesterday, or at all the past week, or the past month.  And then sit down and write today.

Look, right now I’m a busy college student, and writing isn’t my job.  It’s my hobby.  Being a full-time student is my job, and as much as I want writing to be my profession, it’s not right now.  So, if I’ve spent the last three days studying for exams instead of writing, I’m not going to beat myself up.  Sitting down to write today is wonderful and delightful, and if it’s the first time in a while I’ve done so, that’s okay.  I’m going to enjoy it anyways.

Which of these do you struggle with?  Do you relate to this advice at all?  Do you have any more writerly wisdom to share on the subject of self-care?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Pet Peeves of a Writer/Reader

Generally, I adore reading and writing.  But sometimes, things just happen that rub me the wrong way.  For example:

1) Spoilers in the Book’s Summary.

We’ve all been there.  Halfway through the book, enjoying the story and the characters and the suspense, and we can tell that something big is coming soon, and the story is building, building – but we already know what’s coming because we read the back of the book!  Oh my goodness.  Please.  The back of the book (or the summary on goodreads) should only tell me the MAIN premise of the book.  It shouldn’t take away from the big plot points!  ARG!

2) Newest Book in a Series Only in Hardcover

I’m a broke high school student, soon to become a broke college student.  I frequent my library a lot more than my local Barnes & Nobel.  When I do buy books, I rarely buy them full price.  (I love that Target takes 20% off regular price on all their books!)  Furthermore, if I have a choice between a paperback and a hardcover that costs three dollars more, I’ll always go with the paperback.  But when a new book in a series comes out, I SWEAR, IT’S ONLY AVAILABLE IN THAT SUPER-EXPENSIVE HARDCOVER!  FOR THREE. ENTIRE. MONTHS.  (I just made up that number, but it seems about right.)  Ironically, it’s never free at the library during this three month period either.  Because that would be too easy, right?

3) Typos in Handouts

I’m taking English 102 at my local community college this semester.  My professor is a professional.  A teacher.  An expert.  Yet could someone please explain to me why she doesn’t bother to proofread her handouts or assignments before she gives them to her students?!  There have been more typos and inconsistencies than I care to mention.  Every time I see one, I cringe inwardly (since I suffer from CSCS, remember?) and glare at my professor just a little bit.  Now, I recognize that everyone – myself unfortunately included – makes typos now and then.  But it seems like an English professor should hunt after them with everything in her.

4) Repeating the Character’s Name Needlessly

Ella walked down the street to where George sat feeding the birds.  He gave her a piece of bread.  With a smile, Ella took it and started breaking it up into little pieces.  He handed Ella another piece of bread, and they sat in happiness together, feeding the birds until Ella had to leave.

Okay, I totally just made up that horribly-written scene, but I’m trying to make a point.  It irks me so much when a character’s name is mentioned, then they are referred to by their pronoun (he/she) for the next two sentences, BUT THEN THE AUTHOR WORRIES THAT MAYBE WE FORGOT THIS CHARACTER’S BEAUTIFUL NAME SO THEY REMIND US.  Let me make myself clear: once you mention the character’s name, only mention it again if it’s confusing to simply use he/she.  (This is at least what I learned as a writer.  Someone correct me if I’m wrong.)

5)  Starting Sentences with Long Dependent Clauses

Phrases such as “While she ____” and “As he ___” at the beginning of the sentence SLOW ME DOWN AS I READ.  It’s so much easier to read “he ___ AND ___.”  Unless it’s absolutely necessary for the character to be doing these things at the same time, PLEASE don’t use “while” and “as” to start sentences.  It’s just as bad when too many sentences start with -ing phrases.  “Staring at herself in the mirror, Star blinked rapidly.”  “Looking for her brother, Emma hurried through town.”  NO. No. nooooo.  Please.  It’s so much easier to read “Emma looked for her brother as she hurried through town” and “Star blinked as she stared at herself in the mirror.”   (Please note that occasional use of these types of sentences don’t bother me.  But when two per paragraph use long dependant clauses to begin sentences, it drives me insane because it means I have to work harder as a reader.)

Okay.  I think that’s about it.  What about y’all?  What little things bother you as a reader or writer?  I hereby open the comment section up as a place for shameless ranting!

Ten Effects of Being a Writer

I’ve been a serious writer for a few  years now, and I’ve found that the deeper I get into this world, the more it affects my life.  Here are ten examples of the effects that writing’s had on my life:

1. I’m taking English 101 at my community college.  When I got a 77% on an outline, I really really wondered if explaining that I was a “pantser” would be a good excuse to my professor.

2. I did, however, get an “A” back on my first essay, and the teacher wrote “I rarely give out A’s on the first try.  But it was deserved!”  Well, thank you teacher!  Believe it or not, I have just a little experience with writing. *wink wink*

3. When we did an in-class “live” essay one day, I was one of the few students who finished the whole essay in the 50-minute class period.  Why yes, professor, I HAVE been practicing writing super fast!  Why? Um, you know, NaNoWriMo and 1,667 words a day.

4. Things like this happen: on aforementioned “live” essay day, we met in the writing center.  I was trying to figure out where I was supposed to be in the writing center, so I went to the lady behind the desk.  And THIS happened:

Me: Hey there.

Lady: Can I help you?

Lady: You’re wearing a NaNoWriMo shirt!

Me: yes!  Yes I am!  🙂

Lady: Oh gosh!  You’re wearing this year’s NaNoWriMo shirt!  That’s awesome!

Me: Yes I know!!! XD

Lady: See what I’m doing right now?  *Points to the papers on her desk*  This is for my NaNoWriMo novel!

Me: Dude.  This is awesome!  *highfive*

5. I personally own no less than fifteen notebooks.  I KNOW what makes a good notebook.  Therefore, when I go to buy a new journal for myself… well, it’s a rough process, ’cause I’m super picky!

6. I own no less than fifty pens.  Therefore, when I go to buy new pens… I stand in the “office supplies” isle for half an hour, stroking the cases, shifting back and forth between one gel pen and another, debating price vs quality…

7. Frequently, I don’t reply to people’s texts.  Later, my excuse is usually this: “Sorry, I was writing….”

8. Some nights, I don’t get enough sleep.  There are three reasons for this:

1) I’m reading a really really good book.  And because I’m a lover of words, I just can’t put it down.

2) I’m writing.  A really, really good scene.  That just can’t wait until morning.

3) I actually go to bed at a reasonable time.  But then, JUST as I’m about to fall asleep, BAM!!!! This genius idea comes crashing into my brain, and if I don’t get up and write it down, it will be lost forever.

9. Coffee.  I’m just gonna leave it at that.  (Okay, I included a pic of my cool new mug.)

10. Lately, I’ve been thinking this a lot: “Hmm, that sounds like fun.  Nope.  Wait.  It’s in November.  Sorry.”

What about you guys?  What are some crazy ways that being a writer has effected your life?

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P.S.  As a writer, I really hope I got the whole “affects vs effects” thing right.  🙂