A Guide to the Care and Tending of Writers, Part One
Let's talk about self care. Yeah, I know, you'd rather be writing than fussing about some dumb old self care crap. But here's the point: taking care of yourself will enable you to write more and better. Truly.
Yesterday, I completed two big projects. Both are under wraps for the moment, and only one is related to writing, really, but it was an application that necessitated a bunch of thought and filling out.
Today, I'm in full-on fart around mode. I have a list a mile long to complete–and I'm not doing any of it. Instead, I'm cruising around the internet, looking at sites I've not checked in on in ages, reading stupid stories about celebrities, wasting time.
And now, as the day begins to wane, I'm feeling a bit creaky and antsy and unsettled. How much better it would have been if I'd just said, f$%# it, I took two huge steps yesterday, I'm going to read and knit all day. In other words, indulge in things I truly enjoy. Relax after the full-out effort I put in yesterday. In other words, practice self care.
I don't know why it is so hard to force allow yourself to do this. Because if you're like me, you'll resist. You'll sit at the computer, certain that the words will come at any minute, sure that the fog of indecision will lift. But it won't. And my day today is a case in point.
(The truth of the matter is, I've had this blog post–which is going to be two parts, by the way–in the works for a couple of weeks. And it is sheer coincidence synchronicity that my behavior today so aptly proved my own point.)
So, here's the deal: you need to take a freaking break already!
Spoken by the same woman who constantly exhorts you to write every day. So let's go at this from a slightly different angle, with a handy-dandy list of Possible Signs You Are Burned Out and Need to Replenish:
1. You have a hard time focusing. You can't seem to concentrate on the words in front of your face, or you land or a website and wonder why you clicked on it. Then you click on another one and remember why you were on the first one and so you go back there, read for awhile, then head over to the second website. While your writing file sits open and ignored. Yeah, that.
2. You can't connect with the story of your WIP (work in progress). You remember vaguely that its about…a woman…who does something. But you can't recall what in the hell it is she does, or the name of any of the other characters or why you wanted to write it in the first place.
3. Your eyelids get heavy when you open your WIP file, and you don't feel like writing, you feel like sleeping.
4. The People magazine website is suddenly the most interesting thing you've ever seen. And you are compelled to read mindless puff articles about people you've never heard of before.
5. A glass of wine is the thing that you need right now, at this moment, because it is five o'clock somewhere. And once you take the first sip, it is all downhill from there…
The first three of this list are the most important to heed because they are the most insidious. You won't ever realize you are doing them until you look back at the end of the day and see that you've accomplished nothing. Nada. But even worse, you likely won't identify the root cause of your behavior as needing self care. No, you will beat yourself up and tell yourself what a lazy ass you are.
How do I know this? Because I do it all the time my friend told me about it.
So, start paying attention. Take a break. Figure out some ways that you can do self care that isn't goopy. How, you ask? That is the subject of part two of this post, coming right up whenever I can quit procrastinating.
What is your favorite way to waste time?
Photo by The Wandering Angel.