Good morning authors and welcome to the middle of the week. For today’s Writer Wednesday, I want to take a pause. Some of us are attempting NaNoWriMo and immensely discouraged by what we have or haven’t achieved. Some of us are trying to find our writing drive again. Some of us are flailing under the weight of deadlines and missed opportunities. There is a lot going on in the world right now, that almost goes without saying. Many authors are struggling, trying to balance the demands of parenting, remote learning, financial uncertainty, the trials of a pandemic, and a million other stressors against just trying to find the energy to write. At the best of times, writing is damn difficult. Getting words on the page can feel like a monumental task at the end of a regular day, never mind the pressure cooker of our current climate. Now, more than ever, it is important for authors to eke out time for self care. We've touched on the need for self care before in the blog, but today, we are going to talk, specifically, how easy it is to let it lapse.
The Myth We Create for Ourselves
We like to think we can do it all. I, myself, am guilty of thinking I can perform in superwoman mode, indefinitely, because there are no other options. I take on more responsibilities, more deadlines, more balls to keep in the air, and for a while, I do manage to keep everything going. Until I don’t. If I’m lucky, I only drop a few balls, but sometimes I crash hard, and that is because the first thing I sacrifice is my own self care. I am not alone in doing this. Many authors suffer burn out and creative exhaustion because they’ve kept up the juggling act for too long. To continue this very useful analogy, when you are juggling 4 dozen balls, it’s important to know which ones you can drop, and which ones you can’t. Author Nora Roberts, when speaking about juggling family and writing, also used this analogy.
“The key to juggling is to know that some of the balls you have in the air are made of plastic and some are made of glass.”
Often, we convince ourselves all the balls are glass, or we dismiss the need for self care as something indulgent. Something that eats into our already minimal and precious writing time. I don’t have time to watch a movie! I need to write! And you can make that choice, you can choose to snatch the writing time where you can, but you can only do this for so long before your tank runs on empty. It is important to strike a balance so we don’t hit the red zone or drop all our balls at once.
What Self Care Actually Looks Like
Look, it’s not all spa days and three hour long naps, (though nothing is wrong with either of these if you can snag them). Self Care, particularly taking today’s climate into consideration, doesn’t have to involve a huge sink of time or money to achieve. It’s about doing little things for yourself. It’s about taking a pause and remembering to add yourself to the daily equation of family, work, and responsibility. Give yourself ten minutes to take a hot shower. Give yourself twenty minutes before bed to read a book. Give yourself an afternoon walk outside. Take fifteen minutes to stretch or mediate in the morning.
Or give yourself room to expel. You might need two minutes to go scream your frustration into a pillow. Or just five minutes away to grab a cup of coffee, alone in your car, blasting music that makes your windows rattle. It is okay to want and need that space for yourself.
It is vital to your mental and physical health to take care of you, because for many of us, we are the anchor of the household, whether we are the primary caregivers or earners, or if we live alone and must take care of ourselves because there is no one else. So, stop, take a breath. Refill your creative well. Clear your head. You will thank yourself for it later.