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Mental Health and Wellness for Writers: Simple Ideas to Keep You Going for the Long Haul

There is nothing quite like the feeling of putting words to paper as a book forms from our fingertips. But there is also something not quite right about the exhaustion and malaise we may experience after writing. 

Did you know that writing professionally can be considered a potentially dangerous career? Because of the sedentary nature, writing without balance can be physically and mentally challenging. But there are ways to make sure writing remains physically, mentally and emotionally fulfilling for you.

Read on for writer health and wellness tips that you can start doing today!

Self-assess: What does your usual writing rhythm or routine look like? When you crank out all your words, how does your body feel at the end? Are you more fatigued than usual or experiencing discomfort in certain parts of your body?

Knowing your mental or physical areas of struggle will help you implement the best strategy for your writing health and wellness. 

Create anchor routines: Instead of feeling guilty about what you are neglecting to write, make a plan for what you will do before you write. It may be a simple as lighting a candle or as foundational as clearing the dishes first. Or perhaps it’s getting everyone to bed and then starting your writing process.

Covering your consistent responsibilities in a way that works for you can alleviate your stress—helping you write more consistently. What is s good routine that will serve as an effective building block for your writing time?

Avoid eye strain: With the increase of screens, our eyes are increasingly susceptible to strain from staring too long. Blue light glasses are one way to limit the effect of electronics, but another way to minimize eye strain is the 20-20-20 rule.

Every twenty minutes (this is where writing sprints are valuable), look twenty feet away for 20 seconds. Breaking free from the screen is hard when your words are flowing, but being intentional with your vision is beneficial to your writing in the long run.

A simple way to implement this is to set a timer. Once it goes off, set your gaze somewhere in the distance. Better yet, this may be a good time to get up for a snack, change out the laundry or step into a different room. Don’t worry, your words will be right where you left them. 

Don’t Sit for too Long: One of the best things you can do for your health as a writer is to not sit down for too long. Sitting down for extended periods of time can affect your blood pressure, weight, metabolism and more. It’s important to change your position during the time you write.

The 20-20-20 rule is a great way to remind yourself to get up and stretch. You may also want to change your set up and include furniture that facilitates different positions. Implementing a standing or treadmill desk could be just what you need to keep moving.

Take Time to MoveMaking sure you move throughout the day matters significantly for your writing. The physical gains alone are enough reason to put on your walking shoes, but there are more benefits to stepping outside.

Endorphins, sunlight, and if you’ve hit a wall in your writing—taking a walk—can help dismantle writer’s block. A jog may be just what you need to jog your memory. Ideas and inspiration may just be a short path away from making it into your page.

You don’t have to invest in a crossfit program to stay in shape nor do you have to wander too far from your writing chair. But you do need to steward your call well by taking care of the body that carries it. Getting your body moving shouldn’t feel like a burden.

Start with what you enjoy. Do you like the outdoors? Move your body by going on a hike or walk a couple times a week. Do you like working from a list and establishing routines? Find five exercises that can be a part of your daily rhythm.

Do you need something low impact? Consider checking out the gentle stretches designed for post-pregnancy. These types of exercises may not seem like they should apply, but they are intended to strengthen core muscles, which in turn help with your writing posture. Here are some ideas below:

Just Write: Get the words out. Trying to write down perfect words on the first go can be a source of stress. But here is some freedom for you— your words won’t be perfect at the beginning. And those flawed attempts are totally okay. No book can form without the words that build it.

If you strive for carefully edited words at the beginning, the writing process may take much longer and be much harder than it needs to be. Books form in the 3rd, 4th, 5th pass through and beyond. Free up your expectations and write with passion. The spelling and grammar checks will be there when you need them. 

Separate Keyboard & Mouse: Are you struggling with an aching back and shoulders after spending time at your laptop? If so, you may need to reconsider your computer setup. Laptops are a convenient way to get our work done but they may not be the best device for our posture.

Getting a seperate keyboard and mouse can minimize the stress that occurs from the tight typing position of a laptop. You can purchase a bluetooth keyboard and mouse, or you can use plug in models to lessen the amount of radiation exposure, if that is a concern for you.

Additionally, if you have the space, purchasing a separate monitor to work with can help lift your neck and alleviate eye strain. 

Attend a Writing Retreat or Conference: There is nothing quite like gathering with other writers that are on the same page as you. Attending a gathering specifically catered to your writing craft gives you the opportunity to take some time away in a new location and connect with others on a similar journey.

A writing conference or retreat also exposes you to professionals in the publishing industry. Investing into your writing career through a conference gives the ability to pitch your proposal to authors and editors. Even if you don't get an open door, the feedback you receive will make your project even better.

Get Enough Sleep: Protecting your schedule also means protecting the time you need to rest. A good nights sleep is the foundation for the remainder of your day. Although it’s tempting to burn the midnight oil or jot down all the dialogue running through your head in the midst of the night, make sure you set a healthy sleep rhythm.

Lack of sleep functions similar to that of dehydration. Depriving your body of what it needs to refuel can be detrimental to not only your body, but to your ability to write well for the long haul. 

Drink Water!: Healthy hydration is vital for all work, including your creative work. Dehydration can cause brain fog, fatigue, and forgetfulness—all symptoms that don’t mix well with the writing life. Set a large bottle of water near your writing space and when your timer goes off at 20 minutes (remember the 20-20-20 rule) take a drink of water. 

Visit a Chiropractor: Just like an athlete needs to work on conditioning to perform well, you need proper posture and alignment to write well. If you deal with chronic tension in your upper body area, consider contacting a chiropractor or physical therapist. They can assess your condition, adjust you appropriately and give tips for beneficial work habits. 

Work from Your Strengths: Give yourself permission to lean in to the way you work best. Don’t add more mental strain to your efforts by working inefficiently.

Do you like making lists? Make a list for your writing. Outline. Do you speak better than you write? Dictate your words into your phone. Does your current season give you limited time? Take advantage of 15 minute chunks of time that can actually be effective writing sprints. Also, what time of the day do you write better?

Implement the Right System: Building off of your strengths, write within what you know best. Scriveners, Microsoft Word, or One Note are just some of the ways authors outline and write their manuscripts. The methods may endless, but every method is not meant for you.

Release the pressure to use the latest trends and engage in what works for you based on your strengths and work flow. Using the right system for you will allow you to write efficiently and with less stress.

Shift: When you feel overloaded from your writing load, make sure to implement other activities into your life. What hobbies do you enjoy doing that don’t involve writing? Take a walk, paint, play with your kids, go out with friends. Even the work we are passionate about can drain us if we don’t change things up and take time to rest. 

Set Goals: Do you have specific goals laid out for your book project? Having measurable objectives under those goals is an important part of tracking your progress. Instead of aimlessly working without a destination in mind, define the specific outcomes you are shooting for.

Give yourself the benefit of small wins. Every measurable step forward will give you the confidence boost and motivation you need to finish well.

Stick to a Schedule: As you lay out your goals, set a schedule that allows you to facilitate the steps you need to take. Determining specific days to work empowers you to set healthy boundaries for your project. Don’t let unnecessary distractions derail the fulfillment of your dreams. Investing in your writing wellness may be as simple as protecting the time you have set aside to write. 

Celebrate Each Win: How will you reward yourself when you accomplish a task? Is your motivation to write 500 words motivated by the snack you will grab when you finish? Perhaps you plan to have dinner with friends after you write five chapters. Whatever you do, don’t dismiss the power of incentives.

Celebrating every step, even the small ones, pushes pesky insecurities aside as you make your way—one word at a time—across the finish line. 

You may not be able to tackle everything at once, but incorporating just a few of these tips into your routine can help alleviate mental, physical and emotional stress.

One effective way to elevate your writing health and wellness is by working with the support a community like Called CreativesFounded by Lisa Whittle and Alli Worthington, this community is about encouraging creatives who do their best to steward their call towards business, ministry, publishing, and more.

Community engagement, mastermind groups, and co-working opportunities provide support for every part of your process. At Called Creatives, we want to support you and see you succeed for the long haul. 

We hope these tips help you make the best decisions for your career! 

At Called Creatives our desire is to help women like you write and speak with influence and impact. Join us for access to additional topics, exclusive training and connection opportunities. Our content is specifically cultivated to help you succeed in whatever form your calling takes. 

Join now!

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