I can already hear the collective groan. Good, then you know you’re in the right place.
Let’s face it, as writers we have some not so great habits that simply come with the job description. We sit for hours on end staring at screens with hunched shoulders and poorly supported wrists.
Self-care is important for writers because our minds and bodies are our instruments. Musicians don’t neglect their instruments, so we shouldn’t neglect ours. Here are a couple things to keep in mind to take care of both you and your writing.
Cue the collective groan once again. I know, we’ve all heard this hundreds of times.
“Go to the gym. Run, walk, lift weights. Just get a change of scenery and some fresh air.”
And the hard truth is that the people who say this stuff to us are right. Working out refreshes the body and mind. It’s a great time to listen to writing podcasts, catch up on the latest Netflix show, or just let your mind wander. Some of my friends call it “vigilante training” when they go to the gym to make it sound more fun. Regardless of what you call it, take the opportunity to get out of your head and tune in to your body.
2. Rest Your Eyes
Staring at a computer screen for hours at a time is hard on the eyes. Sometimes I find myself glazing over and losing focus after too much time on my computer. This is when I pull out a physical book to read, a coloring book, or some other creative outlet that doesn’t involve a screen. There are even blue light filtering glasses that you can buy if you stare at screens all day.
3. Build in Breaks
The best thing you can do for your writing sometimes is taking a break from it. Whether it’s pausing to grab a bite to eat, to do a chore, or to socialize, it’s time that you’re not directly working on your story. That means ideas are percolating for when you get back to the story later.
Breaks allow you to get out of your head for a little bit. I love what bestselling author Marissa Meyer once shared with her readers. She said that she would write for 20-30 minutes, then stop to roll a twenty-sided dice. The number rolled corresponded to a list she made with break time activities. Activities ranged from a dance party to tidying up the house. It turns the writing into a sort of game and helps you get out a slump.
4. Find Support
Both bodily and personally. I write with a special support that keeps my shoulders back while I write. It’s helped me be more comfortable and get into better habits. I also have friends who have wrist braces to help with carpel tunnel. There are plenty of options to give your body the support it needs.
Also, find personal support in family, friends, and writing buddies. There’s nothing like a good accountability partner to spur you to keep going. In my opinion, the number one thing writers struggle with is not giving up. Personal support can be the push you need to write one more chapter, page, or sentence. Stick by those who believe in you, and your writing will go far.
This only scratches the surface of the many ways you can attend to your instrument for writing. Be in tune with yourself, and learn your limits. If something isn’t working in your writing or you find yourself frustrated, try one of the things mentioned here. Or, find what works for you. What things do you do for self-care as a writer? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!
Megan Burkhart (writing under the pen name Megan Lynne) is an award winning writer of both fiction and non-fiction. Her recent awards include the 1st place Tar Heel Award for her speculative fiction novel and an honorable mention in the 87th Annual Writer’s Digest Competition in the inspirational category. Megan is also a junior agent with Cyle Young Literary Elite and a freelance editor with Sherpa Editing. Find out more about her at meganlynneauthor.weebly.com