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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Trying To Learn How To Take Care of Me Too

take care of yourself

I love how I strike up conversations with people that lead to thought provoking moments of revelation.  It happens a lot with me but usually when I don’t even realize that it was something that I needed to hear.  Today I was talking to a lady who I have had interaction with for a while now.  I wouldn’t really call us friends but every now and then she imparts words of wisdom.  It wasn’t any different today when she pointed out that I am one of those moms that hardly (I’m not going to say never because it wouldn’t be completely true) does anything solely for herself.

She had mentioned that when I get some extra money I should treat myself to something and I launched into my usual rationalization about how I couldn’t possibly buy something for me without at least first making sure my daughter has absolutely all that she needs (not everything she wants but needs) in the near future.  She started telling me about how she used to be that way and that when her kids were grown they didn’t really remember any of the things that she gave up for herself or what she sacrificed but mostly what they remembered was the love that she gave them and the time that she spent with them.  She pointed out that it wouldn’t hurt my daughter or make her feel any less loved to take care of me every once and a while.

I knew she was right but I couldn’t help feeling guilt at the slightest thought of buying something for me that didn’t somehow benefit my daughter as well.  I am trying to figure out where this feeling of guilt comes from, as if I don’t deserve to have anything for myself if it means I have to deny something for her.  It makes me think of what they say when you are on a plane (or what I’ve heard that they say because I have never been on a plane) when they warn you that if something should happen that parents are to put on their oxygen mask first.  If you don’t put your mask on first you take the risk of something happening to you before you are able to help your child.  It’s the same in life on a regular basis.

You have to take care of you because if you don’t then you won’t be able to effectively take care of your child.  Taking care of you does not just extend to making sure that you are healthy and that you eat but also to making sure that you are happy and mentally in a place of peace.  I don’t really remember what life is like without my child around me.  Sometimes I miss being just me instead of just a mom.  I guess from the beginning I have always tried to be the mother I didn’t have and I’ve always had to overcompensate in one area for certain things that my daughter might not have been receiving in another one.

It was a habit that I started when she was born, trying to be the very best mother I could be, alone, and I suppose at that time, I felt like I had to chose between me or her and of course it was always going to be her.  However, as she has gotten older and as I have watched other mothers have that balance that I wasn’t sure how to get, I realize that it doesn’t have to be either me or her, that it can be both and that sometimes it is actually okay for me not to neglect me and that I don’t have to feel guilty about that.  Now I am not going to say that the feeling of guilt when I do something that is just for me won’t still be there when I try to take steps towards taking better care of me, but that certainly doesn’t mean that I am not going to try.  I hope that all of you out there are taking care of yourselves and if you’re not, now is as good a time as any to start.

 

Jimmetta Carpenter

Writer/Editor

The Diary: Succession of Lies (Now Available)

Writing as “Jaycee Durant”

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