Writing and self-care don’t exactly go hand-in-hand. Throw in the stress of Pitch Wars, deadlines, remote learning for kids if you have them, and just all that 2020 is and it becomes very easy to further neglect ourselves. This is why self-care becomes so important. Below are some tips to help.
1. BE GRACIOUS TO YOURSELF
Every writer I know is hard on themselves, and that includes me. Most of us are insatiable perfectionists who strive to elevate the art of writing. We write and then criticize ourselves. We share our writing with others then turn their feedback into an estimation of our self-worth.
Stop doing that.
Give yourself grace as a writer. Grace to make mistakes. Grace to not impress every reader. And grace to take breaks when you need them. Don’t allow perfectionism to hold you hostage.
2. STOP CARING WHAT OTHERS THINK
People can be fickle. Sometimes, they love you. Other times, they hate you. That’s just the way it goes. You can’t spend your life chasing behind favorable opinions. That’s the surest way to self-defeat and destruct, and it's good for your health. So instead of writing something and hoping others like it (and you), consider your writing as a way to communicate ideas to others. Not everyone is going to agree with your ideas, and they don’t have to.
3. TAKE FREQUENT BREAKS
Breaks are a necessity, even to just decompress. Working overtime will eventually lead to burnout. Breaks should not last longer than 20 minutes for maximum effectiveness. This gives your brain an opportunity to relax and reset, which fuels both creativity and productivity.
4. STAY ON A SCHEDULE
One way to preserve your sanity is to create a writing routine and stick to it. This is especially important during Pitch Wars as not only are there deadlines, but it also runs into the holidays, which include school breaks. So, while everyone’s life will be different in how they celebrate—will you be doing a virtual gettogether or will you have some family members over or are you going to travel—routines will change. And this can throw us off if we don’t have a schedule or a plan in place. This also means being proactive, which will decrease your stress levels. Hopefully.
5. SET BOUNDARIES AND EXPECTATIONS
Writing and editing are important to us, especially when deadlines are involved. Whether you self-publish, traditionally publish, are trying to finish your edits in time for a contest submission window like Pitch Wars, or are selected as a Pitch Wars mentee your time is valuable. These are big commitments.
This means that boundaries need to be set with family and friends around your writing/editing time. This also means that you should have these discussions prior with the people in your life so that everyone is on the same page. Not saying there isn’t such a thing as Murphy’s Law, but the discussion could save added stress. Your family and friends might be tasked with taking on more responsibilities than usual, so it is only fair to discuss it with them prior.
Be protective of your energy and protect yourself from unnecessary emotional drain. Learn to say NO. Set limits and boundaries for yourself as well. Don’t overcommit and take on too much. If you need to plan one day a week that is free of writing, do it. Disconnect from social media or negative people if they are emotionally draining. Do what you need to do to protect your energy and well-being.
6. BE FLEXIBLE
Like I mentioned before…Murphy’s Law. Expect things won’t go according to plan. Don’t beat yourself up. And instead of thinking you can’t, ask yourself HOW can you make it happen? Talk to your writing group, your mentor, your editor if you can’t find the ‘how’ on your own.
FINAL THOUGHTS- Be kind to yourself!!
Good luck to all who are entering Pitch Wars or who are in the query trenches. You got this!