It's been a long busy summer filled with the demands of family and friends. Today the local school children go off to school. College starts this week. It is time to take a good hard look at ourselves and our personal goals.
Most writers (men and women) are highly sensitive to their environments. It's how we "come up with those ideas." We see things in different ways and open ourselves to experiences. In other words, many writers have very few personal boundaries. We see it. We absorb it. We let it get in our face. We let it take over our lives. (Whatever it is that currently fascinates us.) We get caught up in story or article or marketing or puzzle or plot and completely forget about the fact that we are in there somewhere.
Writers in sandwich generations find themselves caring for both children and parents. They find themselves writing at 2 am because that's the only free time they have. Sleep is not as important as deadline. Food is not as important as deadline-or worse, we write with a bowl of chips or candies beside us, talking with our hands but chewing with our mouths. We forgo exercise in order to get in one more page or plot point.
If you don't work outside the home office, then you may forgo haircuts, and shopping for anything but necessities-unless you are shopping for kids or parents. Because you are not even aware of yourself as a person. It's a great trick for story telling without author intrusion, but it is not a great way to live.
If you are not healthy, your stories suffer. I'm talking about mental health and physical health. Stop for a moment and step away from the big fat pile of stress in your life. View it as an uninvolved observer. Amazing isn't it?
Fall is a good time to look in the mirror and smile at the person you see there. Think about them as your best friend and the most important person in your life. Because -guess what-they are. All those people who depend on you -children, parents, editors, agents, readers-are shortchanged if you don't find the time to take care of yourself. Trust me, no one else is going to do it for you.
Make a plan to help yourself out. Think of a ten minute walk as important as picking the kids up from school-as important as revising that last page another time. If you get a rejection-stop telling yourself you're a loser who will never make it. Stop being embarrassed that you are somehow inferior. Neither of these things is true and you certainly wouldn't tell a friend that. Instead celebrate the fact that someone read your work. That you did the work and got it out there. Know that you will learn. You can't help but learn. Take breaks from writing if you need to. Take care of your health in small ways- switch from coffee and soda to ice or hot water with lemon. Make a rule that there is no food near your computer. Save that as celebration for finishing a page. Get up, walk away from your desk before you eat. My office is upstairs. All the food is downstairs. So I have to do at least two sets of stairs-down then up to eat anything. It pulls me out of the book, makes me aware of what I'm doing, and I like to think the exercise somehow takes a handful of calories off whatever I eat. Not into eating? (Well, some people aren't. I don't know them, but I hear that writers can forget to eat.) Set a timer in another room for 60 minutes. Yes, it pulls you out of your work, but it also means you have to get up and walk over and turn it off. It sets a limit which allows you to see what you can do in 60 minutes as well as making you move and stretch. A simple stretch can bring a new and brilliant thought into your head.
Now is the time, before Fall deadlines and queries and holidays, to notice the person in the mirror and take small steps to make them the most important person in your life. Your writing will be better for it. Hey, go out and buy yourself flowers-yes, even you guys. They will sit on your desk and remind you that you are more than what you do. Cheers~