Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Care and Feeding of a Writer

One of my favorite artists is Native American Sculptor Roxanne Swentzell. You can see some of her work here. It's simply amazing. When I was at the national Romance Writer's of America Conference in Denver some years back, I took time out to visit the Denver Art Museum and there I saw her sculpture entitled "The Things I have to do to Maintain Myself." I've posted the picture of this work on the left. This little guy has a broken horn and is threading a needle to repair himself. This particular sculpture spoke to me deeply as a woman and a writer.
No offense guys, but women tend to put family, friends and work before their own care much more so then men. We think, "I have a gift to write and I'm going to even put that in front of my own care." Or we think, "I don't have time to mend myself." Overweight? I'll eat better when I have time. Exercise--but that takes away an hour I could be writing or doing laundry. Ladies, we put laundry before our own health. How messed up is that?
But as a creative artist and writer your work will suffer if you don't take time out daily to maintain yourself. Your work suffers, your family suffers and your life suffers. But, but, but...
I know all the excuses. I live them daily. I've found that as we age and continue to abuse ourselves with lack of proper rest, nutrition, and exercise, things begin to break down. Your work will suffer and spending more time in front of the computer won't cure it.
So how to do you break the cycle? When I was in the military I worked as an electronics technician and we had daily duties called PMI's (preventative measure initiatives.) We had a list of daily things that needed to be done to prevent breakdowns and malfunctions. I recommend you make a simple list of PMI's and then implement them one at a time. Commit to them for thirty days and they will become lifestyle habits. I'm not talking diets here, my friends. I'm talking about self-love and self-care. Care that will make your writing better, along with your family and your relationships.

Here's my list:
Drink 8 glasses of water a day.
Walk the dog twenty minutes five days a week.
Do a simple yoga stretch routine right before bed.
Incorporate five fruits and vegetables in my food choices every day.
Never sit at the computer longer than an hour-use this five minute break to go downstairs and get a glass of water.
Look myself in the mirror and tell myself that I love me and that I'm here for me. Take this time to check in and ensure I don't have any pains, illness or tooth aches. If I do, then make an appointment to get it checked out or fixed.

Take care of yourself. Think of it as the instructions for oxygen masks in an airplane-put your mask on first- then you will be better equipped to help others.

What do you do to maintain yourself?


Marilyn Brant said...

I love this post, Nancy...and, also, I need to print it out and read it repeatedly. I keep forgetting minor stuff like: Sleep is a necessity for functioning well ;). I am now going offline for 5 minutes and drinking a glass of water! Thank you.

Nancy J. Parra said...

Hi Marilyn, *waves* congrats on your latest release. I don't know how you do it! Love your books and you~ so take care of you!

Linda Kage said...

I like your last item on the list!! Actually, the whole list is great. Today, I just blogged about how I didn't take care of my teeth and it came back to "bite me". Wish I would've read your blog long ago and heeded the warning!!!


Nancy J. Parra said...

Hi Linda- Oh, no on the teeth. I'll hope over and read your blog.
Take care of you!

~Sia McKye~ said...

While I do spend quite a bit of time at the computer I do take frequent breaks. I might work a couple of hours but then I'm up doing other things.

I take a nap every day, drink about gallon of water a day--actually, aside from the 4 or 5 cups of coffee through the day, water is my favorite beverage. Summer I have plenty of fresh fruits and veggies. I'm getting back into walking again, now that I'm feeling a bit better. Stamina is shot but that will increase a bit every day.

Good thing for me, I don't have high blood pressure sugar problems, high cholesterol (etc), heart is sound. I know that is largely as a result of how I eat. With Celiac (it's a mild form), I have to stay away from processed foods--I make exceptions once a month with brownies. lol!

We do need to take care of ourselves. Good article.
Sia McKye's Thoughts...OVER COFFEE

Nancy J. Parra said...

Hi Sia,

Thanks for stopping by- I have mild celiac as well and have been gluten free for three years-