LOOKING AFTER YOURSELF
I have done a lot of pieces on self-care recently, or at least it feels like it! This felt like the best topic to cover this week after my announcement last week about pulling a release (found here). I have been going through a lot of self-care in the recent months. It's not just been about refilling the well, but mental health issues on top of physical health ones, and I thought it would be prudent to mention here that there are many different ways to take care of yourself, especially if you're a writer working on a release or deadline.
Now just because I pulled a release for the year, it doesn't mean that I don't have other deadlines to deal with. I am still in the build up to the release for my newest book Lights Off (pre-order here!) and dealing with other deadlines for other projects, and I'm trying to find a way to keep that balance between doing what I need to get done, and also having downtime to deal with the fallout from the physical and mental health issues. So I thought that I would give you some tips on balancing and that sweet, sweet downtime.
#1 MAKE IT NON-NEGOTIABLE
If you've got other commitments, things that you can't change, like children at home, or school, or work stuff outside of writing, then you're already carrying a massive load. If your plan is to have an hour, or less, to yourself every day or every week, however your schedule works, then make sure its clear that, baring emergencies, this is your time. It's not about writing, it's about being able to stop, breathe, do something that you enjoy whether that's reading a book, or watching a TV show, or going for a walk now that the world has somewhat opened up again. Whatever it is, that is your time, guard it, protect it, and make sure that you take it.
#2 TRY NOT TO PUSH TOO HARD
I know that sometimes with releases and other deadlines, there are always going to be days or moments when you have to push through. If you have something you had to get done two days ago, but something got in the way, then you're going to have to push through, or ask about an extension if at all possible. My advice is to simple try and not get to that point, which I know is easy to say and hard to do. If they happen, work through them, but try to make sure that you're not foregoing so much sleep that you can't think straight, or missing out on something that's really important to your own mental well-being. That's important too.
#3 TRY AND PLAN
I say try, because a lot of people can't, and that's okay. Their life is too hectic, or their sleep schedule doesn't allow it. All of that is completely valid, but if you can plan, try to start small and give yourself something easy to do to start with and then slowly, and I mean slowly, build it up into something that feels more manageable. This is something that's good to do when you don't have a deadline, and something you can do before that crunch time hits, but I'd be remiss to not include it in here.
I personally started with just a page a day after months of either pushing myself too hard, and having to take time off, or not pushing myself hard enough, and feeling crap about it, which just led me to the former again. I wanted to do something that allowed me to be writing often, but not to the point where it had a negative effect on my mental or physical health. For you this might be a five minute sprint, or it might be planning one writing thing a day (again start small) and moving on from there. Allow for catch-up and rest days and just slowly ease yourself into it. It's a lot of trial and error, and that's okay.
#4 SOMETIMES, YOU GOTTA TAKE THE TIME
Like I talked about last week, I have all these schedules and such in place and it still got to the point where I needed a break, and I just wanna say, that's okay. It might be that you have a deadline, or you have this thing you just have to get done, but sometimes life, and your body will get in the way and you might have to be okay with just saying stop. It's not easy, it's terrifying to be honest, but it's for the best, and once you get to that point, it feels like a weight has been lifted and you can finally breathe.
Just remember to be kind to yourself, get some sleep, eat your food, and remember that it's okay if these things take time, you're human and you need breaks, there's no shame in it.
Any questions? Lemme know in the comments!