Personal Care is Your Responsibility
Personal care for writers is a year-round, everyday responsibility. How you balance your writing time with the rest of your life doesn’t depend on outside inspiration. It comes from your commitment to yourself.
Family, children, work, friends, social obligations all demand time in our lives. It’s up to you to decide how to steward your time. No amount of scented bubble baths or affirmations will change how you manage your time.
Create Your Writer Identity
The first step in author self-care is to make sure writing has a core place in your identity. Your mindset incorporates the vision of you as a writer.
David Amerland, author of The Sniper Mind, said:
Identity is important because, like everyone who’s read The Sniper Mind already knows, it leads to a clarification of values which help us understand what’s important. This then leads to a better prioritization of goals, a clearer understanding of direction and overall better choices and decision in almost any situation you can think of.David Amerland, The Sunday Read
Unless you incorporate a vision of yourself as a writer, you’ll struggle to prioritize writing goals and make clear decisions on how to reach those goals.
Thinking of yourself as a writer is the first step toward self-care of your writing life.
There’s a neurological difference between thinking of yourself as a writer and thinking that writing is something you do. Without internalizing your writing self, your goals will be muddy. There’s no clear path to achievement with muddy goals.
True Self-Care Involves Making Wise Decisions
Decision-making is based on your vision of yourself and how you prioritize your tasks. In order for writing to be part of your definition of yourself, you need to prioritize your writing time.
1. Calendar your time. If you set up daily to-do lists, make sure you include writing time. Make your writing official, by making appointments with yourself to write. Some authors write entire books while commuting. Or they get up before the rest of the household to write. Or they write after everyone else has gone to bed. It doesn’t matter when you schedule your time. It matters that you schedule the time.
2. Create your writing routine. Discover when and how your writing flows. You may listen to music or write with noise-cancelling headphones. You may prepare with a drink and snack at your writing table before you begin or reward yourself with a drink and snack when you finish. Every writer is different. It’s up to you to discover what routine works for you.
3. Find your best time of day. There’s no best time of day for writing. Each writer finds their personal rhythm for metal flow. It may be early in the morning, late at night, or the middle of the afternoon. Experiment with different times of day to find you best time of day for writing flow.
Mindset Creates Priorities
When you incorporate your vision of yourself as a writer, you prime your mindset to prioritize writing.
When you achieve the level of making a living from writing, your responsibilities expand to business acumen. Your books become products. Your business is based on sales. You spend time promoting and marketing your book.
You still need to balance your writing time with the business of being a writer.
Your mindset leads you to creating priorities and then acting on those priorities.
Act on Your Priorities
Once you’ve set priorities, you must act on them. Carrying them around in your head doesn’t lead to achieving goals—goals like finishing your novel.
That’s why scented bubble baths and affirmations don’t get you where you want to be, achieving your goal. Thinking positive thoughts isn’t enough. You must act on your tasks to achieve your writing goals.
Mindset, priorities, goals, action get you moving toward realistic goals. You do this with regular activity toward your goal. Even if you write for just 15 minutes a day, you are still working toward your goal to complete a novel.
Action helps you avoid mind traps like aspiring writer, implying you aren’t one yet. If you write, you are a writer.
Balance is Your Responsibility
Once you have your mindset and priorities set as a writer, you can pay attention to other priorities, including self-care activities. Yes, you can schedule time for scented bubble baths, or day hikes, or playing the oboe, or… But those activities come after setting your priority as a writer.
How you allocate your time is your responsibility. Family, work, self-care activities—all are part of rounding out your life.
Make sure you prioritize your writing time as part of your well-rounded life.