Author Self-Care: taking the time for ourselves

Self-care. We all need it. We hear it all the time. We ALL need to take some time to recharge our batteries. For myself, summer is especially difficult to take some R&R. I am fried. Even though I bask in the sunshiny weather (a welcome break from our loooong winters), I still have a packed schedule while the kids are out of school. There are activities, vacations, travel, appointments/errands/house erupting in Lego bricks and paper, camps/sports, teaching and volunteer work...

...oh, and yes, less time to write. When you work at home, there is quite a bit of juggling in summer! Did I happen to mention that I just signed TWO new book contracts and I'm working on edits, and my audio book to A Hundred Kisses just released? 

 Yes, one of my gardens...again. If you read my blog regularly you'll see I am a wee bit obsessed with my flower gardens. I have many. And I purchased this sign at an apple festival/craft event last year. :)

Yes, one of my gardens...again. If you read my blog regularly you'll see I am a wee bit obsessed with my flower gardens. I have many. And I purchased this sign at an apple festival/craft event last year. :)

That plate is full! And I need to take some me time. I bounced the question off fellow The Wild Rose Press Authors. What do they do for self-care? Here's what they had to say:

My number one way to TRY to stay healthy is to stay hydrated and to get off my butt regularly. One inevitably leads to the other since drinking a glass of water every hour pretty much guarantees a trip to the bathroom in the next hour. Just that short walk down the hall loosens my limbs. -- Luanna Stewart

Mary Morgan's helpful bullet-point list:

  • Shut down all electronic devices (phone, laptops) by 7 p.m. It's too tempting to check social media and/or emails. Making this a firm rule has helped me tremendously. 
  • Exercise 5-6 days per week: Walking, Biking, or Yoga. It helps to stir the imagination, clear the cobwebs, and keep me limber. 
  • Make a 1-2 day retreat day each month to escape the work environment. When you work from home, there is no closing the door on your career. Mine surrounds me and I need a fresh perspective.
  • Working in my garden. Tending to my plants, herbs, and vegetables eases the tensions and helps to center me.
  • Sunday is a day of rest after one hour of line-edits from my current WIP. And I'm firm with the one hour. After I'm done, I'm lazy for the rest of the day.
  • Meditate every morning. It doesn't matter if it's five or twenty minutes, I honor each morning with a positive approach.

I heartily agree with all of those. Gardens are my zen place.

From Jennifer Wilck: Being an author is lonely and isolating. Make sure you have people to talk to and see, both writer and non-writer! Don’t sit all day. Go for a walk, switch rooms, take breaks. It’s good for your mind and your body. No one is perfect and everyone has to revise. Don’t judge yourself on your writing. Put the words down, pat yourself on the back for writing them in the first place, and THEN go back and edit. Set yourself small goals—like word count per day for example—instead of huge ones. That way you have an easier time of attaining your goal and the task isn’t as daunting.

Kerry Blaisdell says, "Like others, I take a physical break. But in my case, I also make sure it's a "tactile" one. Writing is so cerebral, and I'm a tactile person. So in the summer, I get out in my garden -- anything hands on. It's incredibly restorative, and nurturing for the plants as well as for me. I also cook what I've picked, which is another way to be creative while taking a brain break, moving around, and using all my senses. In winter, I also cook or bake, or even do "mindless" chores, like laundry. It's surprisingly satisfying for me, to handle all those clean clothes, organize them, and put them away. It can give me a sense of accomplishment, when I'm stuck on something in my story (or even at work, or in my personal life)."

Kathryn Knight teaches fitness classes: Step aerobics, Zumba, weight lifting, Pilates, and she finds it serves so many purposes: gets her away from the computer, keeps her active, and keeps her mind 100% off anything but instructing the class for an hour, which usually helps dislodge writer's block. She also gardens and listens to audio books. 

Claire Marti also teaches yoga and meditation classes. She states (and I concur!) that they are two invaluable tools to staying sane and healthy! She even has a FREE Yoga Break for Writer's Block class on YogaDownload.com that's only 13 minutes long and doesn't require a mat or stretchy pants or any experience. She also has a free meditation on the YogaDownload.com called Manifesting Seeds for Spring, but it's a great visualization for creativity any time of year.

I agree. We all need a break from the computer. I run. Just finished 12.5 miles. I have run with friends every Saturday morning for the last 30 years. And when I run alone, I dream up stories. It's whatever works for you. The yoga really sounds inviting! -- Cyndie Zahner

Mary Gillgannon recently went to a workshop on dealing with life stress and creative burnout at the PAN retreat of the RWA. She said it was a fascinating experience.

When I am up to my neck and feeling like I'm about to go under, I grab a water bottle, lace up my shoes and head to the mountains. Alone. My favorite summer spot is a ski resort with a lift that ferries me to the top and it's a beautiful, scenic, soul-soothing hike down. By the time I've descended, I'm ready to reengage with the world and my writing. -- Julie Howard

I see a trend here with getting OUTSIDE...sometimes it's a simple as getting outside with the dog:

C. Becker: I walk my dog; the time away lets me clear my head and refocus.

When looking at my computer screen makes me want to scream, I lace up my shoes and take 'Bitsy' my dog for a walk. There is a nature trail near here and being out in the 'green' really helps. Sometimes, depending on how hot it is, I turn on the TV and watch British TV shows... -- Kathy Scarborough

What about being social when we are home (many of us, alone with our computers and our thoughts)?

As an introvert, I have fairly modest needs in that area. Being around groups of people can be exhausting, in fact, even if I'm enjoying it. 
One thing I did like about working in an office was daily chatting with co-workers. Now that I'm retired, though, I'm quite content being at home...church on Sundays, casual chats with clerks at the supermarket and
when I take the dog for her multiple short walks every day, I often have the chance to casually greet other people and dogs out walking. So I have the sense of being surrounded by people without the draining experience of having to interact in-depth more than an introvert enjoys. Also, several times per year, we go downtown to listen to our favorite Irish singer, who performs in the upstairs lounge of a local restaurant almost every month. That's a pleasant evening among a small group of like-minded people. In addition, I go to at least two conventions every year. -- Margaret Carter

Here's what Margaret Ann Spence does to keep herself sane on the writing journey: 

* Buy flowers or pick them from the garden so I have something good to smell and look at while writing. A little luxury but it could be as simple as a vase of blossoms from your tree in spring or a glass of basil in summer.  
* Get up and stretch every hour. 
* Make a date for exercise. Take a walk with a friend or go to a class. Writing is one of the most sedentary jobs and your body will not thank you for your choice of career unless you take care of it over time. 
* Limit time on social media. Schedule it like everything else. 
* Find a supportive writers' group. 
 

Well, there you have it! Advice from a plethora of other Wild Rose Press authors on how to care for yourself while in the throes of writing. I see many trends in those responses.

I'd love to hear from you. What do you do for self-care?

Happy writing...and happy R&R,

Jean

--And by the way, my flower gardens are PEAK this month (ahhhhhh!)--