Throughout 2016 there’s been a lot of importance placed on learning and practicing self-care. The basic idea of self-care is doing nice things for yourself to recharge your mind, body, and soul. So what does this have to do with writers in particular? For me, when I am well taken care of as a person, I am a better writer. In addition to taking care of myself as a person, there are steps I can take to specifically care for the writer in me, and I’d like to share some of those tips.
- Read what makes you feel good. Sometimes when I’ve had my head in my own work for too long I start to get annoyed with what I’m writing about. Sound familiar at all? That’s your cue to take a break, and read something else. Anything that’s a change will do, whether it’s re-reading Harry Potter or a new novel a friend told you about.
- Don’t edit yourself right away. Whether it’s a final paper, or a poem for workshop, the first step is not writing well, the first step is just writing. If you tend to get stuck on editing grammar or word choice before you even have your full idea on paper, this could be extra important for you. The goal is to make time and a safe space for all of your ideas to come out. Your ideas don’t have to be good right away, but you do need to get them out of your head before you start editing.
- Make your space happy. If your ideal writing space involves candles and Instagram-worthy latte creations, go for it. If it involves cocooning yourself in five blankets on the couch with a thermos of tea, do it up. Bonus points if you can frequently re-create that happy space whenever it’s time to write. Happy space, happy writer.
- Stop comparing. I give you permission to visualize your inner critic and shut it up by whatever means possible. This goes farther than just not editing yourself on the first go-round. Stop comparing your writing to other writers’ work. Quit telling yourself that you should be better, and don’t beat yourself up for not being able to write like you should, or at all. If it’s a bad day, forgive yourself and try again tomorrow. Life happens at your own pace.
As with any self-care practice, you learn what works for you. It might be all, or none, of my suggestions here. The best thing you can do is start somewhere, and decide what you like best from there on out. Hopefully with these tips in mind, next time you’re in a writing slump you’ll be able to step back, love yourself a little, and get back to it. Happy writing!
– Jessica Born