Writing a book is a rewarding experience, but creative work takes both time and energy.
It’s important to ensure you have solid self-care practises in place for your mental health. Before you sit down to the page, set some boundaries in place to ensure you finish in one (metaphorical) piece. This means creating practises that will protect your mental health and help you to avoid burnout.
Here are some simple way to balance self-care with writing and any other commitments.
Why is it important to practice self-care as a writer?
As writers, our work rests on our ability not just to motivate ourselves, but to be creative. This can be mentally draining, especially with other commitments to juggle.
Pushing yourself to write to the point of exhaustion will massively affect your quality of your work. Instead, allow yourself to reset; when you come back to writing, you’ll find it easier to focus and the quality will be much better.
My process of self-care as a writer is an ongoing one. The habits I’ve built help me to write consistently, without putting my mental health at risk.
Take the time to care for yourself.
Writing consistently doesn’t have to mean writing every day. Schedule frequent breaks to do things you enjoy, without any pressure.
I love setting goals for myself, but I am always trying to be more conscious of my own limits. Plan as if you’ll be ill every day; this way, it should be relatively easy to complete the tasks without feeling too overwhelmed.
Pro tip: try setting 3-5 non-negotiable tasks for yourself each day. These are the things you should prioritise, and anything else is above and beyond.Tweet
Use this time to care for your physical health too. 30 minutes of exercise a day is shown to be beneficial for both physical and mental health. If you don’t enjoy high intensity, try a brisk walk, or yoga. I also find a lot of creative thoughts come to me on walks.
Don’t put any pressure on yourself with these activities; use them to unwind from work and focus on yourself.
Learn to unlink your productivity from your worth
In our constantly moving society, this is a radical thought, but it shouldn’t be. Block out the noise that tells us to be constantly moving and working, and instead, take time to breathe.
As creatives, we can often put a lot of ourselves in our work. When the words don’t quite sit right, or you haven’t reached your count for the day, taking time off can feel like the very last thing you want to do.
Feelings of guilt, anxiety or frustration at not reaching your writing goals are clear symbols that you might need to take some time off from writing to reset your boundaries.
Take some time to pause, slow down and focus on yourself and your health.
Remember- taking time off might feel like the last thing you want to do, but you’ll return to writing with a fresh perspective and new energy.
Accept your own limitations
Every writer works at a different pace.
Instead of punishing yourself because you don’t write 2000 words a day, set goals that take into consideration your own talents and limitations. This means prioritising the tasks that really need to get done, and cutting out the rest.
Have grace with yourself– you won’t always meet that target, you won’t always be pleased with your writing and you won’t always be on top of your to-do lists. Instead of expecting perfection, reward yourself for the small tasks you do manage.
Engage in other forms of creativity
If writing is beginning to feel like more of a chore than an outlet, try exploring other creative activities. Read your favourite book, watch that Netflix show or listen to music.
Not only does this help to avoid over-working, it’ll also allow you to refill your creative well. Media relaxes, but it also inspires. Who knows- you might even think of a few new ideas for that storyline you’ve been stuck on.
And remember- we’re all writers because we love books, so don’t neglect this vital part of your work.
Write what you love
As a writer (even if it’s your job), you call the shots. You get to decide what you write, so why not write what you enjoy? It’ll make the task a whole lot easier, and chances are, if you love it, so will your readers.
Constantly pushing yourself to write what you think you should, based on other people’s expectations, is damaging. Why not try free-writing- write some fun scenes from the perspective of your characters, or try a brain dump.
You could even go right back to basics and write a few journal entries.
Seek advice from other writers
Chatting to anyone close in times of stress or anxiety is a great release. Even if a problem isn’t easily solvable, just chatting about it can help to compartmentalize and break it down into manageable solutions.
There’s an entire community of writers out there, and chances are, a lot of them are feeling the same things as you. Turn writing into a positive experience by reaching out and chatting about problems you’re experiencing with your work.
This is also a great opportunity to make new friends and build the foundations of a strong writing support group.
Are you a writer? Will you be trying out any of these tips? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below or you can connect with me directly on any of my social medias.