Being an author can be stressful. From long hours huddled over a desk to the mental pressure of producing creative work, handling competing demands on your time and juggling multiple roles (as a writer, publisher, book marketer and solo business owner). Not to mention the recurring pressure of facing self-doubt, rejection and isolation.
While many authors feel driven to write and are passionate about improving their craft, getting those words down on the page shouldn't be at the expense of your physical and mental well-being. Taking time out for self-care is vital for your productivity, creativity and happiness. Having to shun the world short-term while on a deadline is one thing but doing so routinely is a sure-fire way to wind up feeling depleted, uninspired and burnt-out. Self-care is key to producing your best work and should be part of your long-term strategy for authorpreneur success. To help you recharge those batteries, we've put together a list of self-care tips, so you can stay healthy, productive and creatively inspired.
Being able to structure your own day can be both a blessing and a curse. The amount of writing and book marketing you could be doing is virtually endless and many writers find it hard to set boundaries around their working times, feeling guilty that they are never doing enough. Most productive writers stick to a regular routine to maintain their sanity. This means allocating time for both writing and not writing.
Get organized on how you spend your time. Plan out your week in advance and set aside times for rest and relaxation. Use these times switch off and do something you enjoy. Having time to recharge is just as important as having time to write.
Writing can be a lonely job and while many writers enjoy their solo time, establishing a network of fellow authors can be an invaluable source of support. There are frustrations that only those that write understand. Talking to fellow writers can be a fantastic way to beat writers block, brainstorm new ideas and get much-needed feedback. Collaborating with other writers can also bring you into contact with previously untapped reader markets.
If you don´t have any writer friends then it's time to make some! Get in touch with your local writer group, attend writer events and workshops. Use social media to get in touch with writers online, follow writer related hashtags and join in Twitter chats and live events.
We can all learn from the experience of businesswoman and author, Adrianna Huffington, who woke up in a pool of blood after passing out from work-related exhaustion in 2007. Although your lack of sleep might not be as dramatic, research shows that going without adequate rest increases irritability and the likelihood of depression and other mental health problems.
Establish regular times for waking and sleeping. If you are finding it difficult to get enough sleep try keeping a sleep diary to identify stressors and difficulties.
Do you talk to yourself in a negative way? Writing is difficult enough without standing in your own way. Overcoming self-doubt and perfectionism is an ongoing battle for many writers. If you're struggling with negative self-talk try the following:
Talk to other writers – Chances are they have been where you are and understand what you are going through.
Meditate – Regular meditation can help you feel more centered and confident.
Journal – take the pressure off with some free writing. Journaling can be a great way to clear your head and reaffirm your purpose.
Choose right now to believe in yourself. Know that you will make mistakes, fail at times and be rejected on your writing journey. It's all a part of growing as an author. If you are struggling with self-doubt check out our tips here.
Looking more inspiration: read about 6 famous authors that once faced rejection.
Hours spent at a desk are hardly conducive to physical health. If you have forgotten the joys of fresh air and sunlight then it's definitely time to leave the desk. Exercise is important for both physical and mental wellness. It doesn't have to be a chore either. Start the day with an activity you enjoy. Personally I get my zen on with morning yoga on YouTube, others prefer a chilled out walk or going for a hike on the weekend. It doesn't have to be arduous or complicated to be effective. Pick something you look forward to doing and you'll find it much easier to stick with.
Choose an activity you enjoy and carve out time for it in your week. Walk to the coffee shop to meet a friend, take the stairs instead of the escalator or join a hiking group.
Regular breaks are imperative to maintaining creativity and productivity. Set aside some relaxation time throughout the working day. Get away from your electronic devices and step outside, do nothing for the next 5 minutes. Relax your mind. Return to your writing refreshed and ready to give it your full attention.
If you are burning yourself out, try setting a timer for regular breaks. Take time out to catch up with friends and family and eat meals away from your desk.
Where do you write? Is it a place that motivates you to achieve your goals? Having a distraction-free, dedicated workspace can do wonders for your productivity. Whether that means going to the local library or cafe, setting up a home office or finding a corner of the kitchen bench, make sure it's a place where you can be focused and comfortable.
Experiment to find a writing space that works for you. Make it as focused and dedicated to writing as possible. Fill it with whatever inspires you: candles, mood boards or Harry Potter music. Ensure that everything is ready to go so you waste as little time as possible preparing to write.
Finding a self-care routine that works for you is a personal process of trial and error and what works for one writer may not work for another. Start with the building blocks of self-care with positive self-talk, sufficient exercise, sleep and a dedicated workspace. Look for what makes you productive and fulfilled and make time and space for it.
Need more ideas? Here are 100 more acts of Creative Self-Care to try out.