Today, instead of focusing on how to take care of your manuscripts, we're going to focus for a minute on how to take care of you. As writers, it's easy to get too absorbed in our work at times. No matter what stage of writing you're in, it seems like there's always something to worry about. Deadlines, bad reviews, querying, CPs to keep up with, personal and work responsibilities...it never ends.
All that pressure can contribute to a bad case of writer's block or mental and emotional fatigue. When that happens, you need to find a way to rest and recharge your inner battery. Plowing on through and ignoring that fatigue will catch up with you sooner or later, so finding a self-care routine that works for you is vital to relieving stress.
If you ask any group of writers online for their stress-relieving, writer's block-breaking tips, you'll get a lot of this: enjoy some junk food, go out drinking, binge on Netflix, etc.
Those are all good ideas that can be helpful. But I'd like to suggest that indulging in bad habits maybe shouldn't be our "go-to" move, especially when a writer's life can be so constantly full of stress. I asked around for some "healthier" suggestions, and here's what writers had to say:
When you get a rejection letter, write down anything nice they had to say. Keep a document of compliments to read when you're feeling down.
Use those compliments to make fun graphics and make them your screensavers or put them on your desktop. Print them out and hang them in your writing space.
Alternatively, you can take bad reviews or insults and pair them with "motivational" type pictures to make them sting less. Mean words just don't hurt as much when they're being said by the "hang in there!" kitten.
If you're having writer's block on a particular project, try switching to a back burner project for a few days. Let your subconscious brain work on the problem for you.
Try writing something in a completely different style or medium. Do freeform poetry. Write to music. Write a sensory passage. Change up your routine to shake up your thought process; it helps break through whatever you're stuck on.
If you have a manuscript problem you can't figure out (and you have time to do this), don't get up right away in the morning. Think about the story before you go to bed, then again when you wake up. Listen to your mind; your subconscious may have solved it for you while you slept.
Go for a walk or a jog, or whatever type of exercise you enjoy.
Try a creative activity with an outcome you can control, like baking, music, gardening, or crafting. Engage your creative energy without the frustration of writer's block, and it may help loosen up your creative muscles.
Try mindfulness techniques, such as meditation, yoga, or simply taking a bath.
Read for fun.
Any physical activity with rhythmic movement is good for relaxing your brain and stimulating thought. Often you're increasing bloodflow and endorphins without having to focus on what you're doing. Walking on a treadmill, crocheting or knitting, running, etc.
Coloring, painting, or other artistic activities.
Baking or cooking, especially something new and interesting.
Talking any story problems out with a friend or family member. Often someone who doesn't know your story very well (NOT your CPs) can offer you simple solutions to whatever's wrong. They aren't bogged down by preconceived notions of how the story ought to go. You don't have to take all the advice, but talking it over can get your brain going in new directions.
Hopefully you all find these tips as helpful as I did. Take care of yourselves, and happy editing!
Every Wednesday and Saturday we bring you an edit tip of the day. Be sure to check out the archives for our popular summer series of SHOW DON'T TELL workshops!