Writers are an intriguing sort of person. To an outsider, we look solitary; creatures of quiet contemplation. But we know, when we’re writing, that we are surrounded, and filled with the voices and lived stories of a myriad of people – our characters. Still, to be so wholly absorbed in an activity, especially one that exists outside of reality, means that writers need to spend some time practicing self care.
Writing is both a physical act, and a very sedentary act. Many of us sit hunched at our computers, or over a notebook for hours at a time. Our hands and wrists experience the most physical workout, and so we need to be careful not to overextend ourselves. Carpal tunnel is a common affliction among writers, so taking regular breaks from typing or writing, is a must. Periodically stretching, and getting up from our desks is also important, and I find it helpful to write in a number of different places so that I’m changing my position fairly regularly.
Since we spend so much time in our minds, it is easy for writers to fatigue ourselves. As writers, we need to ensure that we are making time for rest, not just for our bodies, but for our minds as well. There is only so long that we can spend in a state of good writing flow, before our minds begin to fatigue and wander. Taking time away from our stories, or from the actual process of writing, gives us time to let our mind wander, which can actually prove more fruitful for our storytelling in the long run!
It is also incredibly easy for writers to respond emotionally to their own writing. We live and breathe our characters, and when we are writing difficult scenes, and exposing our characters to strife, it becomes something we also feel. Writers need to be acutely aware of not allowing our character’s emotions to override our own. Feeling deeply is part and parcel of writing, but we need to be mindful of owning emotions that are not fully our own.
Writing is a creative pursuit, and creativity, as I discussed in greater detail here, it is something that needs to be cultivated. Happily, there are a myriad of ways in which this can be accomplished. It is important for writers to remember that creativity is a habit, not some mystical muse that comes knocking now and again. If we all sat around and waited for such a creature to come around, we’d never get any work done! Make time to develop creative habits, and you will find a bountiful crop of creative ideas!
How else can writers practice self-care? Tell me in the comments below!
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