Writers and Self-Care (A Preptober Post)

During NaNoWriMo (that’s National Novel Writing Month in case you’ve been living under a rock lol) writers tend to kick it into overdrive and get so lost in their story that they start to forget to do some of the simplest and most basic things. We tend to start to neglect ourselves for the sake of the art. So this NaNoWriMo

1) Don’t forget your hygiene – I know that this sounds obvious, but how many of you writers get so immersed in your story that you look up at the clock and suddenly the whole day could be gone. There are some writers who even get so engulfed in their characters and the story that they forget to eat and just work straight through the day without taking any kind of break. On one hand if you are that writer I almost want to congratulate you because that’s a lot of writing but on the other hand it’s not good to neglect things like showering and brushing your teeth and doing your basic daily maintenance. The story will be there if you step away for a minute.

2) Remember to eat – As I mentioned in the above tip, forgetting to eat is a common thing that people do when they become engrossed in their story. This is not healthy for you or your writing. How clear is your mind in terms of creating story and developing characters if you are not nourishing your body properly?

3) Take a break when you start to feel stalled – There will inevitably come a time that you will find yourself stuck and at some kind of standstill (and if not I would really like to know your secret). You will stare at the page or computer screen and find yourself rereading over the last few lines or scenes that you’ve written and end up in a place where you may not know where to go from there. The urge to press on and try to write anyway is strong and I know that this is what a lot of writers tell you to do, to keep going and work through it. That method does not work all the time and it may not work for everyone and that is when you just need to push your chair away from the desk and computer, get up, and take a break from your project. Go take a walk, go sit in the park and take in your surroundings, sit in a coffee shop or bookstore and listen to your surroundings (and the conversations taking place around you lol). You never know what could jog your creativity back into place!

4) Keep your health in tact – NaNoWriMo is not the time to abandon your healthy habits. If you consistently workout, do not use NaNoWriMo as an excuse to ‘take a break’ from the gym (I speak from experience, trust me). This is not a good idea, in fact it is a terrible idea because if your body is used to feeling a certain way from the continuity of working out then you will only be confusing your brain by the drastic shift. Working out triggers the endorphins in your brain in a way that nothing else can (not even coffee, as much as it pains me to say that) and if anything it will actually help you in your story writing and in achieving your writing goal for the month of November. Now if you have to change your time around then do that!

5) Read – This one is simple. Stephen King has said thousands of times and I’m sure many other writers have said it as well, and it’s because it’s true. You CAN NOT be a good writer if you are not first a good reader. To write well you must read A LOT. When I say read, I don’t just mean the genre that you are writing in either. Read a little of everything. Broaden your scope of the things that you read because if you do it will definitely broaden the scope of your writing. So READ! Enough said.

6) Don’t forget to stay connected – I know it’s kind of against the grain for NaNoWriMo and coming from a person like myself who likes to stay to myself for the most part it will sound strange but don’t distance yourself too much during NaNoWriMo. Writing is a solitary act (although it doesn’t have to be) for sure but remaining connected to people and remaining in tune with the people and things going on around you could also be critical to keeping your writing fresh and interesting.

7) Sleep is important – Lastly, but absolutely one of the most important things on this list, is sleep. If you are sleep-deprived your brain can’t come up with anything usable. That is not to say that you have to get a full eight hours of sleep (but if you can then go for it), I haven’t gotten anything over six hours at any one given time (unless I was sick) since back when I was in high school, but a decent amount of sleep is critical.

Okay so that’s it for today. I hope that all of you are prepping and planning your novels for NaNoWriMo and that when November gets here you don’t forget to take care of yourself. Until next time…Happy Writing!!! #BeMindful #BeCaringtoYourself

 

Jimmetta Carpenter

Writer/Editor

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No Excuses Allowed (Anymore)

“Excuses are the nails used to build a house of failure.” 

~Don Wilder 

I was in the gym this morning and one of the guys in there (who hadn’t been there for about two weeks) strolled in to a barrage of questions from everyone else in the weight room.  In our gym we look after one another and we definitely hold everyone accountable to what they say they want to accomplish by coming there.  So this particular person constantly comes in the gym speaking about how he plans on being more consistent and then he will disappear for about a week.  When he comes back in he talks about all of the things that threw him off of his plan to be consistent and the mistakes that he made in his diet that made him feel too guilty to come back to the gym on a regular basis.  We tell him the same thing time after time.  That it doesn’t matter the mistakes he made in his own plan, or that he got off track.  What matters is that he corrects the mistakes and gets it together.  In one ear and out the other our words go every time.  

Today, for every excuse he gave me, I simply said to him “this is the year for no excuses”.  He responded by saying “but I fell off, I messed up”.  I told him that it doesn’t matter that you ‘fell off’ or that you made mistakes in your own plan, what will make those mistakes matter is if you give those mistakes power by never correcting them.  He asked me “well haven’t you ever made mistakes in your diet and messed up and then felt guilty about it?” and I said ‘sure I mess up in my diet because I’m an emotional eater, and I’ve missed more than one or two days at the gym but I don’t feel guilty about it because I know that I am going to correct it and eventually I do’.  

Now this conversation may just be in reference to going to the gym and maintaining a healthy regimen but the message applies to everyday life as well.  We all make mistakes that we feel guilty about and we sometimes think that we can’t come back from whatever mistake it is but the reality is that we can and using those mistakes then becomes more of an excuse.  Not one person walking this earth is perfect or goes without making one single mistake.  Sometimes what makes the mistakes worse than what they really are is the fact that we keep repeating them and never do what needs to be done to correct them.  

I think that sometimes we should celebrate the fact that we are imperfect beings because it will be those imperfections that strengthen our character and our determination to do the things that we were put here to do.  Those imperfections allow us to realize that while we may fall down, we most certainly have the strength to get back up.  So for the year of 2012, let’s try to take the attitude that we won’t make any excuses, nor will we accept any.  If we make a mistake, don’t let that very mistake be a reason that we don’t correct our actions.  So you fell down, so what.  Sit up, get your bearings together, dust yourself off, and get back up again.  It will only stay a mistake if you don’t do anything to correct it.  Until tomorrow…Rejoice in your imperfections, they are apart of what makes you who you are!

 

Jimmetta Carpenter

Writer/Editor

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