Writers often have an innate urge to write and must to find a routine that works for them and their life. Some people like to write daily, even scheduling their writing time during the day to ensure they achieve it. Some save writing for the weekend and wrack up thousands of words. Whatever your style is, you’re bound to need to balance it with the rest of your life.
Balance, in my mind, is another word for Author Self-Care. If we don’t take care of ourselves, the words don’t get written. Prepping for fulfilling obligations and taking breaks is just as important as making an outline, filling out a beat sheet, or jotting down character sketches before we begin our writing routines.
Taking care of obligations at home and/or day job are often what get in my way. I try to find creative ways to use my time to make sure everything gets done. For example, my writing at home usually takes place in the hour after my daughter goes to sleep and the evening winding down with my husband. I know many writers who wake up before their kids are up or go into work an hour early, dedicating that found hour or two to writing. Some writers are lucky enough to write on public transportation to and from work, or in between college classes. Where can you find an hour? It may be easier than you think. And, once you’ve identified a time that will work for you, it’s easier to see when and where you’ll do other things, like, you know, feed the kids, do the dishes, or finish homework. Never apologize for taking that writing time, either.
Rewarding yourself for your progress is essential. It can make the time you fit in more meaningful. I love the star sticker method. I get a small calendar and give myself a star for every 500 words written when I’m drafting. Author Victoria Schwab goes a step further and rewards herself with different colored stars for other things she wants to accomplish, such as reading books or working out. Tracking progress can do wonders for your confidence and I highly recommend trying this if you haven’t already.
Taking breaks to refill my creative well is a huge part of my author self-care. The what will be different for everyone but things I like to do are:
· exercising or walking outside
· watching movies
· binging on TV shows
· connecting with friends/other writers
Not only do breaks give our brain a little rest, but in many instances they allow us to experience other things that may be useful in our writing. They let us to be creative in other ways.
Taking time for yourself and doing things that aren’t writing sometimes brings on the guilt. I challenge that by reminding myself that if I don’t find time for all the things that need to be done—including taking care of myself—I won’t be able to write. Balance looks differently for everyone, but figuring out what your personal limits are and how to maximize what you have will make everything easier.