In response to the latest poll, Michael K. requested posts on tracking and self-care, adding “It’s slightly possible that I’m having the most trouble with these myself.”
Why Resist Self-Care?
Michael is not alone. Questions about self-care came up during the Live Chat of my online Entering the Flow class this week and it’s a topic that comes up often in coaching.
Until someone starts paying you (and paying you well and regularly) to write, you can feel a little guilty about taking time away from other people and responsibilities. Then I suggest you need to make time for self-care on top of writing time and it starts looking downright self-indulgent!
Many writers think they “should” be healthier, but they don’t see a connection between their health and their writing. It’s easy to see why a dancer’s creativity requires taking care of her/his whole body, but many writers think the only thing we need to create is our brain and our hands. We think it might be nice to be in good shape, but it’s not essential to writing. This misperception pushes us toward an unhealthy disconnection from and disregard for our bodies.
The truth is our brain is our body!
Why Embrace Self-Care?
Self-care is anything and everything that keeps your brain and the rest of your body ready to write.
Self-care begins with the awareness that what you do with your body matters. When you really know that, you stop thinking that you can either write OR go to the gym or that you can write OR get healthy food in the house and cook it.
You stop thinking that skimping on sleep is an option when you’re pushed for time and that it’s “the only way” you can get any writing time. You also stop thinking that “taking a break from your writing” won’t affect your sleep, mood or overall health and well-being.
If you’re a writer, you need to write. You need to write to be healthy and you need to be healthy to write. You need to structure your days so that you have time for all of these essential activities:
- Product Time, that is, time for your writing that might include research, freewriting, brainstorming, daydreaming, drafting, revising, etc.
- Meditation or relaxation
- Time when you focus your attention, in other words, multitasking-free zones when you ignore distractions
- Creative play
- Healthy, enjoyable food
- Being in loving, supportive relationships
- Other body maintenance (taking vitamins, fastening your seat belt, getting your teeth cleaned, seeing your physician and getting regular health care, spending time with your pet, etc.)
In upcoming posts, we’ll explore why each of these activities is essential and how you can tailor them to suit your personality and lifestyle.