Be Kind To Yourself.

Today I’m going to talk a little about self-care. I’m lucky enough to be in a position where I don’t have a day job, writing is my full-time job. Some of you might think ‘That’s Great!’ I certainly did and it is, except…

One of the things I thought I’d be able to do more was socialising. I used to work anti-social hours, so getting out to see friends was always a real hassle to organise. When I started writing full time I thought I’d be able to get out more, but wait! Just because I have all this free time doesn’t mean anyone else does, and who says I have free time anyway? Between writing, marketing, event prep, housework and my usual commitments it’s just like working a full week except now I’m more inclined to do overtime. So, do I go out more? No, in fact I go out less which leads me to…

Any of you who also work from home might know this one; Isolation. Even when I was working jobs I hated, there were people around me who I liked, who I could moan about it to and who would sympathise. We could chat and set the world to rights and just interact with each other. I still have my family around me (when they’re not at work) but besides that my personal interactions these days are quite limited so it can get quite lonely at times.

In the grand scheme of things these might seem very small, first world problems. ‘Oh no! You’ve stepped out of the rat-race to do something you love and found that it’s not all lollipops and rainbows! Boo-frigging-hoo!’ But, as I learned in my years of Counselling training any issue, phobia or fear is important because it’s yours. We all know people who are scared of spiders/clowns/heights/air travel. These things might not scare us but that doesn’t make the sufferer’s fears any less, or any less relevant. So, if you choose to walk the path (or sit in the chair more accurately) of the full-time author, self care is something you must learn.

Don’t beat yourself up for not writing everyday. Steven King once said in an interview “If you don’t write, you’re not a writer.” And the Master of Horror can’t be wrong, can he? Well, yes and no. You do have to write but not every hour of every day, sometimes it’s important to take a day, or a few days to refill the creative well. Watch some TV, read that book you’ve been meaning to read, get out and exercise and try not to feel guilty about it, and, speaking of exercise…

Exercise is good for you, not just your body but your mind. A regular routine can help you maintain a flow of creativity to jog you out of a creative rut. You don’t have to run a marathon or bench 300, just raise your heart rate and maybe work up a bit of a sweat to create those endorphins that make you feel good about you.

Treat yourself, you deserve it. Every once in a while have the cupcake/candy bar/facial/massage that you’ve been longing for. Taking a little time to do self-care should never be thought of as writing time lost, but a step toward further creativity. You put yourself into your books, your work, hell whatever you do you put a bit of yourself into it so take some time to rejuvenate your stock of ‘you’.

Beyond that, do take care of your social interactions. Spending time with people is just as important as spending time with your characters. Writers don’t just write what they know, on occasion they write who they know, so be warned! Writers are subtle and quick to anger, our retribution is to eviscerate our detractors in prose and make them characters who will be maligned by readers forevermore!

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