Pep Talk Week #3: Beyond The Obvious: Self-Care For Writers

A lot of posts that address this part of our journey include tips and tricks to beat a Week Three slump. These tips are much needed and can be very helpful. I’ll list a few here… change POV, location, add or edit out characters, try different settings and even find a different place to do your JuNoWriMo writing. A change of scene can mean everything! However, there is much more to triumphing in Week Three than writing pointers. 

Self-care for writers isn’t just a pleasant idea for a cute Instagram post. It is and should become as much a part of your writing experience as creating outlines and having a habitual time to write. While self-care will look different for each individual, it can boost you out of any slump if you dedicate time and energy to doing it. 

First, make sure that you’re as well-rested as possible. I know that the inner editor sneaks out of the corner and ambushes me more readily when I’m sleep-deprived and totally worn out. In addition to having a good sleep schedule, get to know your personal creative energy times. I’ve never been much of a night writer, no matter how hard I’ve tried to become one. However, mornings and early afternoons are when I really hit my stride. Don’t compare your creative energy time to other peoples’ energy times. Early birds are no better or lesser writers than night owls. It’s all about finding the way that works best for you. Then just go for it! 

Be sure to eat and drink in a healthy manner. As you work on your project, you may appreciate having meals and snacks prepared ahead of time so cooking is low-stress. By all means, stay hydrated! Many of us absolutely love coffee and caffeine packed teas as our writing fuel… not just for energy but for taste! But you can and should fill your trusty JuNoWriMo mug with water or another decaf beverage from time to time. Your body is a machine, the vehicle of expressing your creativity, so make sure you treat it like a luxury sports car to keep the engine running. 

Take breaks as you need them. Stand up, stretch and go outside. Yes, even in your quest for writing all the words, the outdoors and sunshine still exist, so be sure to experience them frequently! Any kind of movement can stimulate new ideas by giving you that refreshing break that you need. Stretch, dance, go for a walk. Just move your body because it’s good for you and your brain. Another thing you can do to put some variety into your day is to incorporate a few small, non-demanding outside projects. My favorite things to do alongside JuNoWriMo are knitting and crocheting. I choose projects that don’t have a deadline and can be picked up and put down at any time. I think of this as “nonverbal thinking.” As I spend a few moments doing something far removed from the world of words and writing, my brain is refreshed and I’m eager to return to my WIP with a new perspective. 

One last thought on self-care: rewards are good. Whatever it is that you want to do in celebration of meeting a goal, do it with happiness! You are growing and learning, which is very reward-appropriate. Do something that you’ve held off on this month. Indulge in something which you might have wanted for a long time. Call or text a friend, meet them for lunch. Play your favorite music. Watch a movie. Be your own biggest cheerleader because you deserve it! 

Happy writing! 

Elizabeth Conrad writes short stories and novel length works in mainstream, fantasy and science fiction genres. She also enjoys singing and design. Her favorite animals are cats and rabbits. She firmly believes that there can never be enough coffee in the world.

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