Nothing is better then when the words are flowing through me, and I can’t seem to get them on a page fast enough. When I am in “writing mode,” the world drifts away and it is just me and the page in front of me. I am completely immersed in a world I have created. Sometimes, if I am lucky in my busy, loud life, I can do this for hours. I emerge from the other side of this writing haze and realize I have wrote through lunch or dinner, or both, my bladder is bursting, and my leg has fallen asleep. I stand out of my chair as pins and needles race up my leg and I hobble to the bathroom, then to the kitchen for any food I can get into my stomach quickly because I am now starving. Sound familiar?
When I am engrossed in a project, it consumes me, even when I am not physically working on it. I am always thinking about it. I have also gotten stuck, I mean really stuck, or written myself into a corner. It is like a puzzle I sometimes can’t figure out which makes me nuts too. I often lay in bed at night thinking of characters and plots, or even dreaming about them. I try to have a rule of moderation in all things in life, but I think writing at least for me, is something that I have to be all in, or all out of when I am really working on a project. Along the way I have learned a few things for good writer’s self-care.
Exercise: This doesn’t have to be strenuous, but you should get the blood pumping. I love to walk when I have writer’s block, moving my body, changing the scenery and getting outside really does seem to help. I am sedentary when I am writing, my butt is in the chair. I know I could use a standing desk, but it’s not for me, at least not when I am writing. Move your body, it might move your plot along!
Eat Right: I know this is easier said than done. My nutrition seems to tank when I am writing. I begin to live on things that can be cooked in the microwave, or toaster. What can feed me quickly so I can get back to work. I now know that if I am digging into a big project that I need to plan ahead for meals. I will wash and cut up fresh vegetables and stick them in the fridge, then they are just as easy to grab as an unhealthy snack. Keep healthy foods at the ready and make sure to drink lots of water.
Sleep: Writing when my entire house is asleep is a special and unique experience. My dog sleeps at my feet as I type away. The light of my screen and my solitary desk lamp light the room. This is a feeling that easy to get addicted to, but then like most indulgences, the next morning is rough. I wake, after sleeping a few hours, to happy energetic kids who could care less that I filled a plot hole and now I need to sleep, they want breakfast and a trip to the park. I have burnt myself several times this way and I have learned that it is not the best idea to write well into the early hours of the morning.
Cleanse Time: This isn’t a new age spa treatment. After a long day of writing, or after completing a tense scene. I need some time for my brain to rest. I have to go find an activity that doesn’t require problem solving or strategic thinking. Some of my favorite things to do to rest my brain; watch a comedy, cook, knit, work in my yard. I find these tasks to be relaxing and they recharge me so I can go back to writing.
Read: I love to read! I was late to the reading game, as I have said before in previous blog posts, but I am making up for it now. I am always reading. While I am working on a project, I like to pick a fun piece of fiction to read. I generally try to read in the genre I write in but, I read all sorts of fiction. I do have one rule, as I write primarily romance, I will stay away from any story that has any resemblance to my own work in progress. I do this out of respect for the author. I know that it is said, that imitation is the biggest form of flattery, but I don’t think that holds true in this case. I want to respect the identity of another’s work, and not have it bleed into my own.
Community: Plug into a support network. I am luck to have a sister and a husband who are both excellent writers. My support network knows the ups and downs of writing and how much it really takes out of you after a long day of writing. I know I am very blessed to have a good network like this. I have also found more recently a great writing network on Twitter. There is a very active and robust writing community there. It is great to connect with others who “get it.”
Remember when you are writing or working through writer’s block to take care of you. Your characters rely on you for their voice, if you aren’t in the best shape, then you do them a disservice. Take care of yourself and write on!