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:
“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.
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.
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.
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.