Self Care for Writers...
While writing, it is sometimes easy to forget that the words need you in order to be written down. Therefore, taking care of yourself is as important as taking care of your words.
It happens to us all: we write, scribble, edit and rivize. We get lost in a whirlwind of deadlines, or in a haze caused by the wish to be succesfull. We work, work some more, load ourselves up with coffee, and then keep on working. The funny thing is that if people show this behavior during 'normal' day-jobs, we tell them they are soon going to burn out. We try to help them, and hope that they'll be fine in the long run. Yet somehow, when a writer does this, people don't seem to understand that this behavior does exactly the same. And trust me when I tell you, you are not ready for a burn-out. I had mine when I was 29, and I am still recovering from it. The good thing is though, that I have learned to enjoy what I do, and take much better care of myself in the process, because of it. So, from writer to writer, here are some tips to take better care of yourself.
#1 Allow yourself to be a writer.
Calling yourself a writer isn't exclusively for those who are published. You are a writer the moment you pick up that pen/open a new Word-document and start putting down cohesive words. Allow yourself the title: Writer. This is your first achievement. Savor it, and remind yourself of it. You are a writer, and you have nothing to prove.
#2 Accept that in order to be successful, you will have to fail.
The world of publishing is complicated and tough. On average, the chance to find an agent drifts below 0.02%, and the chance of becoming a bestselling author... well, do the math... But that doesn't mean it's impossible. Many authors have conquered the odds. This means you can do it to. Shooting for that 0.02% only means that you will receive rejections. You will have people tell you that your work isn't good enough. And there's two things you can do with that. You can either quit, or keep going to improve your skills. Accept that you will fail, and you'll se that the pressure it takes off your submissions will create room for improvement.
#3 Take a break.
This is easy. We simply have to close our laptops, and stop typing for a moment... some hours... some days... perhaps some months. Give yourself time to write. This can be difficult if you are working with deadlines, but even then it is important to take a step back. Because only then will you be able to look at your work objectively again. Perhaps this round you'll finally discover what's wrong with chapter 4!
#4 Do something that isn't writing.
Life is wonderful. And although I do not write blogs about the Zen state of mind, or meditation, or basically anything that might elevate to highter realms, it is important to realize that life is, in fact, wonderful. There are so many things to see, so many things to do. Go out, find something you enjoy, and go do it; no writing, just enjoying life as it is. You might be surprised about the inspiration it'll bring along.
#5 Stop checking your e-mails so obsessively.
This is also something we are all guilty of. We sent in a submission and we start refreshing our mailboxes every 10 minutes to see if we received a response. Stop it... right now. Nowadays, your mailbox will alert you when you've received a message. There is no need to refresh. And I know things can get exciting. The moment you see the notification popping onto your screen, showing you the name of that agent your queried... Oh man, your heartbeat rises, adrenaline kicks in. This is that golden moment, that Schrödinger moment on which you are both accepted and rejected, until you open that mail. I get it, I really do. Breathe. Let it sit there for a while. Let it wait for some hours before you open it. You'll find that being able to do things on your terms will make you feel stronger, and up for the task of owning that rejection (or of course to celebrate the moment you have found yourself that dream agent!).