This is probably one of my favorite writing pieces. I wrote it while I was an intern at a literary agency.
Why Self-care Should Become Top Priority When Writing a Novel
By Alese Gwinn
Have you ever felt like one more rejection letter could end your writing career for good? Doubts and stress start to creep in, making a project you love seem daunting. Completely understandable. I’ve been there. Writing a book is hard. Many long, exhausting hours are spent in front of a keyboard to create a multi-page piece of yourself to share with the world. This is where the idea of self-care comes into play. Self-care is the act of protecting yourself, whether it be physically, mentally or emotionally by engaging in healthy and safe techniques in times of stress.
Finishing a draft, getting feedback (both good and bad), doing revisions, and querying your novel takes guts. It also takes a toll. Stress from the beginning of the writing process to the point where you get your book deal can be exhilarating and sometimes overwhelming, affecting your mental, emotional, or physical health which can hurt your writing. Here are a few self-care tips to keep in mind when working on novel:
• Change the project.
-If rejections or revisions are blocking your creativity and getting you down, work on another small project to get those artistic juices flowing again. Changing the project could be as simple as using the strong, negative emotions you’re feeling and writing a poem, flash fiction piece, short story, journal entry—whichever is able to help you reprogram your brain back into the positive feelings about your novel. And it doesn’t have to be writing at all, you could paint, read a book, anything. Stepping away gives you a chance to refocus on the task at hand.
• Focus on what goes in your body.
-This seems like a given, but how many times has coffee, energy drinks, or snack foods kept you going for hours when meeting a deadline? Skipping meals because of stress can create negative reactions in the body such as headaches or having no energy—both bad for novel writing. Water is your friend and so is eating healthy! Keeping your body fueled by items that won’t make you crash will ensure you feel better in the long run.
• Engage in physical activity.
-Physical activity releases endorphins. Who doesn’t like positive feelings flowing through their body? It doesn’t have to be anything too strenuous if the gym isn’t your style—take a walk, work out in the garden, play tennis/basketball/softball with a friend, or go for a swim. Your body will be able to release the negative stress feelings and focus on the positive which will help your writing.
• Slow it down, take a break, and relax.
-Simple right? Everyone needs a break. The best time to take that break is before stress runs you down and makes you sick in some way. If taking a break means hanging out with your family and friends for a night, or drawing a bubble bath and watching cheesy movies on Netflix, do it! Whatever your “thing” is—the activity that rejuvenates you back to your most creative self—make it your focus for a day. Take the time to treat yourself.
Not engaging in self-care can be detrimental to your health and your book. With all the amazing things our bodies can do, they can still be fragile at times. Stress has a way of sneaking up and making even the strongest person doubt themselves and their abilities. Self-care is a great way to combat that. Just as your book needs TLC to make it the best product it can be, so do you. Self-care is the first step in loving yourself just as much as you love your writing.