You hear it all the time. ‘I was so focused on writing, I forgot to eat all day,’ or ‘I was up until 3am finishing this chapter,’ or ‘will banging my head against my keyboard magically write my story for me?’
Okay, maybe not that last one. But whether we’re joking or not, there’s no denying that writers can be a little extreme when they’re busy writing their novel. Writing can be mentally and emotionally challenging, and it’s often difficult to remember the most important part of writing- taking care of yourself.
Here are 6 ways to take care of yourself while writing
Take regular breaks
It can be hard for people to concentrate at the task at hand, even more so when they have a lot to do. Taking regular breaks from your writing can help boost your focus and productivity while still getting a solid amount of work in.
I use the 45/15 rule, especially when I’m on a strict deadline. I’ll write/plot/word-build for 45 minutes, then take a fifteen minute break. During this time I’ll get up and get moving- clean, eat, take a quick walk etc. Anything to get me out of my chair so I’m not sitting idle.
When a writer gets in the zone, there’s little that can shake us. But this also means we can forget the little things. Keep a bottle of water next to you during your writing sessions as a reminder to keep drinking. A snack or two can also be helpful.
Get enough sleep
It’s common knowledge that writers like to stay up into the wee hours of the morning or wake up before the sun. We crave that quiet time where we can work without distractions. But doing this regularly can burn you out, and reduce your productivity and inspiration. Make sure that you get at least 7 hours of sleep at night, or failing that, a nice nap during the day to keep your energy up.
Write a list
I love lists. I like to write them, (and not do them…) but they’re so helpful, especially when I’ve got a lot to do. If you’re working to a tight deadline, or have a million and one things you need to sort out, start by writing a list of everything you need to do. Arrange that list by importance and then spread that list out over a few days- or until your deadline hits. This way, you can focus all your attention on one or two things per day and reduce your stress. And nothing feels better than crossing things off a list once it’s done.
Word count limit
This isn’t ‘I need to make sure I hit X amount of words in one day.’ It means ‘I won’t write more than this in one day.’ It can be difficult, especially when you’re hit with a lightning bolt of inspiration, but it can help ensure you take a breath and relax. Set a reminder on your phone to check every so often how many words you’ve written. This way, you’ve got your writing in for the day, and you have time for other things as well.
Usually writers will plan in time during their day to write. Instead, schedule in hours when you don’t. This will help eliminate the guilt you feel if you don’t manage to write during your scheduled hours. You can spend as much, or as little time writing during the day as you like, as long as you keep your scheduled non work hours open to doing something else. And let’s face it- if we write a little extra during those hours, we’re not really going to feel bad about it, are we?
Do you have any tips for taking care of yourself when writing? Share them below in the comments.
Good thoughts and happy writing