Let’s talk about self-care for writers. 

With online events like Camp NaNoWriMo, editing, writing, and marketing my work as well as a full-time day job, I burn out fairly quickly. Writing is mostly an internal practice and takes a lot out of you.

It may seem counterintuitive, but taking a step back and focusing on my health has made me more productive. 

To keep my creative juices flowing, I prioritize self-care, especially during times when I’m focused on hitting my word count. 

Here are my top 5 tips for implementing self-care as a writer. 

1) Exercise

I’ve loved running since high school (really more jogging because I’m not really a fast runner.) I enjoy being outside and getting the endorphins flowing, which fuels my creativity and gets my mind popping. I come up with some of my best ideas when I’m listening to music and taking a long run in nature.

2) Spend time in nature

Sometimes I’ll get up early in the morning, get my cup of coffee, sit on the porch, and allow the trees and the wind and the flowers and everything to feed my soul. Nature walking and forest bathing is supposed to be good for creativity. Personally, I find that the more greenery I have around, the more creative I feel. 

3) Eat whole, healthy foods

Another thing I do is consume fruits, vegetables, and lots of water because it’s easy to get overly involved in the writing process and forget to eat well. I work all day, then come home and jump on the keyboard as soon as I walk through the door.

Feeding your body the right nutrients and fats will actually help your brain to work better and be a better writer. Target foods rich in Omega-3 that come from fish oil or flax

HACK: To make eating right more manageable, once a week, I pre-order my grocery list for pick up. I make sure to include lots of fruits and vegetables, such as cherries, apples, bananas, and broccoli. It saves time, and I’m less tempted to pick up garbage. Then, I meal prep a lot of my dinners and lunches and make sure I have some good, healthy snacks ready when I start my writing binges.

Now, I’m not going to say that I don’t have little treats. I do allow myself a small piece of chocolate here and there, but I don’t overindulge. It is easy to develop a dependency on sugar to give you a boost. 

The problem with pure sugar is the crash. After about 45 minutes, you metabolize the treat and your blood sugar crashes. Your brain fogs up, and you stare blankly at the mocking screen. Bye, bye, creativity! 

4) Reward completed tasks

Whenever I hit my word goals for the day, I give myself a reward or a treat. I will:

  • Binge a Netflix show
  • Go to the movies with friends
  • Read a book, play with my cats
  • Spend extra time with family

I always associate finishing a large word count with something positive. Make yourself a list of treats that don’t cost a lot but give you a positive emotional spike so that you associate writing the words with pleasure. 

5) Sleep

Get as much sleep as possible during this time. It’s easy to say, ‘I’ll just do my word count after everyone else is in bed from 10 p.m. until midnight and get up at 6 a.m. the next day for work. Your creativity evaporates if you’re not adequately rested.

I know a lot of people advocate getting up early, and that’s fine, but just make sure you’re going to bed early if you’re going to be getting up extra early. Our bodies need a certain amount of sleep, which varies from person to person. Test on the weekends to see when you naturally wake up. Get a feel of how many hours your body needs. 

If you’re not rested, you’re not going to be able to delve into that vast, world-stopping idea that will be the next epic adventure, best-selling story. You will just fight to get through anything that sounds okay to be done. Take the time you need to recharge. 

If you have any other thoughts or ideas, or ways that you take care of yourself as a writer, leave them in the comments below. 

Watch the original video on self-care for writers here.

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