Self-Care for Writers – Sleep

Getting enough sleep

Getting enough sleep

Today, I’m escalating the rest topic, and will talk about getting enough sleep. I know so many friends who are so busy that they don’t get enough sleep. Or cut their sleep time short on purpose as a habit. It scares me. I don’t even think that pulling an all-nighter to meet a deadline will yield good results. I will explain below.

Let me start with a little memory:

At a coaching event, one of the speakers described her new method to become an even more successful business owner: Limit her sleep to five hours per day, and use the new-found time to get even more done. She was serious and quite proud that she had trained her body to get along on just five hours. And she suggested that everyone could and should do that, and stop wasting so much time on “useless sleep”. Anyone getting more than five hours of sleep was a slacker in her eyes.

I was appalled.

This is the most self-destructive decision and suggestion I can imagine.

Thing is, we can get used to running on willpower and adrenaline, and we can do quite well like this for a while, months and years. People do it all the time. But it’s not healthy. It completely upsets the hormonal balance of the body, it reduces our ability to heal, and it puts us into a constant fight/flight mode. And it takes a toll over time.

Scientists are not entirely clear yet why exactly we even sleep, and there are about three people on this world known to scientists right now who do not ever sleep. They are being studied, but they don’t seem to suffer from that aberration of nature.

However, the rest of us need sleep, and we most likely need more than five hours.

What happens during sleep?

People used to think sleep serves to rest and restore the body, and it does. The metabolism changes and cells shift from breaking down things and providing bits and pieces to other cells to building up things they need for themselves. If we’re ill or injured, we sleep a lot more – to facilitate that kind of healing.

But mostly, sleep seems to be the time when the brain detoxes, reorganizes and restores itself. It’s when we sort memories and experiences, when things we learned get stored away and when cell detritus is removed. In fact, the brain disconnects from the body during sleep so we don’t act out our dreams. (Again, there are a few people where this mechanism is sometimes faulty, and they do weird things at night, like trying to strangle their wives or smashing nightstands.)

Another little science fact: Whales and dolphins breathe consciously, to avoid drowning. That is, they have to actively decide to take each breath. Which means they can’t sleep, or they would forget to breathe. So what do they do to restore their brains? They rest one half of it at a time. It’s measurable. That is how badly mammals need their sleep. (And physically, we are mammals.)

Cutting short this time could be really dangerous in the long run.

Aside from this long-term damage, cutting your sleep short will impair how well you can think and focus even after just a few days.

Losing sleep can kill your creativity.

Of course, maybe you need the very level of madness and distorted thinking that lack of sleep can cause. That drunk, disjointed feeling similar to having had too much alcohol could spawn fascinating stories.

I just don’t think it’s healthy. Or wise.

And here’s another level of destruction:

Regularly forcing yourself to work on too little sleep is a clear sign of not respecting your needs and your body. It’s like making war on yourself, spending energy to fight against your nature in order to reach certain goals. This can work short-time, but it’s devastating in the long run.

This is in fact the opposite of self-care.

Now, I’m fully aware that there are many of you out there who want to get enough sleep but who have trouble sleeping through a night or even falling asleep. That’s the topic for next week. (*hugs*)

Today, I’d like you to take a good look at your sleep schedule. And at your daily schedule of things to do.

Do you get enough sleep?

What can you do to ensure you get enough sleep?

Yes, that means that probably something has to give. You may have to carve out that extra hour in your day to either go to bed earlier or rise later. I know that with a day job, you have little choice about when to get up, but still. Take a good look.

Here’s the thing: When you do get enough sleep, you’ll have much more energy to do your chores and your writing. It may even go faster, helping you to recover that hour in your day. This is a much more sound, healthy and more natural way to organize your day.

The tapping offer today is about shifting that horrible belief that cutting short your sleep time is a sign of a hard-working, successful person. It is not. And as usual, you’ll find a full tapping round in the newsletter. (It goes out about two hours after this post goes up. Sign-up link is below.)

Even though I have learned that sleeping is a waste of time and I need to cut back sleep in order to be really productive, I’m totally okay the way I am, and I’m now open to the possibility that the opposite might be true.

Even though I have been taught that sleeping more than five hours is a dreadful waste of time, and I force myself to get up and be productive, I’m totally okay the way I am, and I’m now giving myself permission to treat myself much better and allow enough sleep.

Even though the entire society is focused on being active, productive and successful (Puritans, anyone), I’m totally okay the way I am, and I now choose to treat myself to enough sleep and get more productive in a healthy way.

Your Turn:
How much sleep do you get every day?
How much sleep would you need? Do you know?
What happened while you were tapping?
And finally – what are you creating right now?
Please share in a comment.

Image Source: F. Moebius

PS: My newsletter contains a full tapping round to go with my blog posts, so it’ll be easier for you to get results. Sign up through the form on the upper right hand corner, and receive an introduction to EFT as a gift, find that specific tapping round plus occasional special offers. If you’re on a mobile and can’t see the sidebar, you can sign up through this link: Newsletter Sign-up.

Posted in Mindset | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Self-Care for Writers – Rest

Rest

Rest

Let’s start with the big and obvious one: Rest.

If you’re a bit like me, you work pushing yourself, trying to get stuff done, finish the book, the editing, the formatting… and you ignore the effect all that focused work has on your mind and body.

Here’s an easy test:

Close your eyes for a moment.
Be aware of how that feels.

When I do that and get the sense I could keel over and fall asleep right away – then I know it’s beyond time for rest. It’s a quick way to check in with your body, especially if you – like me – live practically glued to your computer and the never-ending activities that demand attention.

Rest can take many forms for me, and you need to figure out what works best for you.

Just to give you a range of options, this is what I do:

When I’m really feeling exhausted, I go for a full nap in bed, in my PJs. And that takes two hours. Seriously. A friend of mine jokes I must have Spanish genes in me. Most of the time, I wake up somewhat rested, but also a bit cranky. When I’m unlucky, I wake up cold and cranky. When it was much needed and a good nap, I wake up happy and ready to go.

When I don’t have the time for that, or don’t want to risk being cranky, I settle in my armchair with a blanket, lean my head back, and just close my eyes. Half an hour is a good amount of rest, and usually, I’m ready to go back to work after that. Meditation music works for this, but not always.

When I need a really quick pick-me-up, I dance in place for a minute or two just to get my heart-rate up and into taking deeper breaths. I’m usually good for an hour after that, but it’s not really a rest.

This may or may not work for you.

Try it out, see if it helps, and if it doesn’t, keep experimenting.

You already have permission for self-care from the exercises of the previous posts, and now I give you permission to experiment to figure out the best way for your body to profit from a rest.

You have permission to take breaks and get some rest.

Because we work much better and faster when we are rested, and we’re also much more creative.

Here’s some tapping to help you give your body the breaks it needs.

Even though I learned that I have to power on until I get everything done, I’m totally okay the way I am, and I now give myself permission to rest when I need it.

Even though it’s so easy to get lost in work, in my to-do lists and all the activities that draw me in, I’m totally okay the way I am, and I now give myself permission to check in with my body and give it a break when needed.

Even though it feels so wimpy to take a nap or time-outs when I need to get stuff done, I’m totally okay the way I am, and I now choose to make self-care and getting some rest a priority.

Your Turn:
How do you feel about taking naps?
How does it feel to check in with your body?
What happened while you were tapping?
And finally – what are you creating right now?
Please share in a comment.

Image Source: F. Moebius

PS: My newsletter contains a full tapping round to go with my blog posts, so it’ll be easier for you to get results. Sign up through the form on the upper right hand corner, and receive an introduction to EFT as a gift, find that specific tapping round plus occasional special offers. If you’re on a mobile and can’t see the sidebar, you can sign up through this link: Newsletter Sign-up.

Posted in Mindset | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Self-Care for Writers – Permission

Permission to relax

Permission to Relax

Before we get into what you can do for self-care, and all the little things that make life better if you actually do them (ahem), I want to take one step back with you.

Because before you can actually really work on self-care, you have to give yourself permission to do so.

If you don’t, you’ll go through the motions and still feel bad about it. You’ll need lots more willpower to keep exercising, cooking meals or getting enough sleep. It will be hard – and it doesn’t have to be if you take the time for this small but fundamental step.

I’m quite serious about this, and I often do this with clients.

You see, modern culture has a tendency to value money above everything else. We also measure success in money earned. And in order to earn that money, we have to spend time creating our products – our books, pieces of art, and possibly working in a day job on top of that. A lot of time.

And any time we do not spend being productive, working on something that will bring us money, can be seen as wasted time. Continue reading

Posted in Mindset | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Self-Care for Writers – Introduction

Love your body

Love your body

Most of us are either freelancers or people with a day job who write when we make time for it. And I know how much time writing can take – especially when a story is flowing well and exciting things happen, or when you’re getting ready for a launch.

And I can be honest with you: I find it difficult to maintain good self-care in times of stress as well. So I know how that goes…

Of course, we also all know that it is important to get regular, healthy meals, get some exercise, get enough sleep (!!), and keep a healthy mindset going.

All of that takes time away from writing, however. And from making money.

So we tend to cut it short.

Eat at the desk while checking FB.  (Or on the sofa if you use a laptop.)

Decide to exercise tomorrow. Or never.

Skip meals or eat oatmeal all day.

Tell ourselves that sleep is overrated…

And in the long run, this kind of behavior exacts a price.

Now, I live in Germany, a place with health insurance, so things usually don’t get completely dire. But we have our own little obesity epidemic here. We generally lag behind American trends, but they usually show up here, as well. So yes, the warning signs are there.

The simple truth is: We need to take good care of ourselves.

And this is why I’m creating this blog series. In the next months we’ll explore beliefs and blocks to taking good care of ourselves while we write. We’ll take a look at family system dynamics which do have an influence on our health and health habits. And I’ll give you lots of tapping suggestions to help you shift your habits into healthier ones.

Because I want you to keep writing and stay productive for a long time!

Here’s some tapping to help you pay more attention to self-care and staying healthy.

Even though I hardly find enough time to write, and I can only do so by cutting into my time for sleep and self-care, I’m okay the way I am, and I’m now open to the possibility of finding a better balance between writing and health.

Even though I learned to live on little sleep and it’s okay for me, so I can write, I’m okay the way I am, and I now choose to take a good look at how healthy my life really is.

Even though all I want is to write and get books out, and finally earn money that way, I’m okay the way I am, and I now give myself permission to take a step back and look at how I treat myself – and possibly change that.

Your Turn:
What comes up when you hear or read “self-care”?
How hard do you push yourself every day?
What happened while you were tapping?
And finally – what are you creating right now?
Please share in a comment.

Image Source: F. Moebius

PS: My newsletter contains a full tapping round to go with my blog posts, so it’ll be easier for you to get results. Sign up through the form on the upper right hand corner, and receive an introduction to EFT as a gift, find that specific tapping round plus occasional special offers. If you’re on a mobile and can’t see the sidebar, you can sign up through this link: Newsletter Sign-up.

Posted in General | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Publishing Author’s Mindset – Conclusion

My book

My book!

Today, we come to the end of the blog series about the author’s mindset when publishing. And I can tell you from experience that the whole process is not for the weak-minded.

(Insert long story of mix-ups with Amazon and CreateSpace, delivery of wrong books etc. I might eventually tell it…)

The one thing all authors need when embarking on publishing their work is resilience.

Because there will be setbacks. There will be errors, days or weeks or months with no sales, bad reviews, and nasty readers. You will lose money over ads, or maybe a cover design. You’ll freak out about spelling errors. There will be days when you ask yourself if it’s really worth it.

All of this is enough to stop someone.

And you can’t let it stop you.

Or you will no longer be an author. Continue reading

Posted in Mindset | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Publishing Author’s Mindset – Conclusion

The Publishing Author’s Mindset – Dealing with a Bad Review

Bad Review

Bad Review

It will happen eventually, once your book is available. A bad review will drop, and you will actually read it.

And cringe.

What happens then totally depends on your mindset.

You could go into a death spiral of doubt and self-loathing, crying in devastation. You could lose sleep over this for at least three days, and it could stop you writing for a week or longer. Maybe forever.

Or you could laugh, cheer and keep writing with even more joy. You might print it and frame it and stick it on the wall at your writing desk, grinning every time you look at it.

Obviously, both reactions are a little exaggerated.

Now, we’d all prefer the second kind of reaction, but it’s hard to get there, right?

Because that bad review strikes at your heart.

That reader completely misunderstood your story.  They trampled on your characters, your world and your plot. Or they just dissed your book with no reason at all.

Either way, it hurts. Continue reading

Posted in Mindset | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Publishing Author’s Mindset – Dealing with a Bad Review

The Publishing Author’s Mindset – Getting Reviews

Getting reviews

Getting Reviews

Everyone knows we authors need reviews. The more the merrier.

And everyone knows they are hard to get. After all, it means that the reader has to take action beyond enjoying that story.

And it means we have to ask for it. Politely, gently and persistently.

But there is another thing about reviews that can easily block us from even asking for them, and that’s fear. Because reviews express an opinion on our story.

Reviews judge our story, and by extension our ability as writer.

Some of us may not mind. But most of us have put heartblood into the stories, and just the chance of being harshly criticised could stop us cold when we should be asking for them. Continue reading

Posted in Mindset | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on The Publishing Author’s Mindset – Getting Reviews

The Publishing Author’s Mindset – Marketing

Buy. My. Book

Buy. My. Book

Now, first of all, I have to admit something terrible:

I don’t have the key to successful marketing, either. I have no magic script, no sure-fire solution – and to be honest, I’m not good at it, either. Yet.

Because this is – once again – a mindset thing.

And I haven’t found my personal block just yet. I know it’s there, I know it can be dissolved – but I need to figure out what it is. And it’s much harder to help myself as it is to help someone else.

So even though I am definitely no marketing wizard (which is probably a limiting belief right there), there is one thing I can say, gleaned from a lot of studying of marketing methods:

Don’t do anything you’re not happy with. Or that makes you feel icky.

Because you’re establishing relationships with people.

And honestly, who wants to buy a book from someone who behaves like a terrible car salesman? Who posts nothing but “buy my book” on social media, possibly three times a day? Continue reading

Posted in General | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Publishing Author’s Mindset – Marketing

The Publishing Author’s Mindset – Cover Creation

Cover

Cover

I know. Covers are hard.

That’s what we’re being taught, and maybe that’s also backed up by experience with graphics programs. I’ve been there.

There’s one graphics program that I could work intuitively. And I still use it from time to time, even though it is severely outdated. I hated all the others.

I hated Photoshop. I hated GIMP.

Until I made the decision to learn cover creation.

And using the rules of Profit First, I decided to go with GIMP, because it is free, and because it’ll work in Linux. (I’ll shift my computer to Linux eventually, so I keep that in mind.) Continue reading

Posted in Mindset | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Publishing Author’s Mindset – Cover Creation

The Publishing Author’s Mindset – Formatting

formatted page

Formatted page

Once your story has been edited enough (and really, don’t spend too much time on that), you will want to get it ready for publishing.

And that means formatting.

Ebook formatting has become very easy. Tools like Jutoh or Vellum make it possible for anyone to do it on their own. Easily.

Even formatting for print is not rocket science. It’s a little more complicated because your file must fit clear specifications for the Print on Demand service you choose to work with. And it should be a PDF.

But let me reassure you: It is doable.

And you can outsource it, if you wish, but of course, that means spending money. You might eventually choose to do so anyway, to save yourself time and worry – but honestly, there isn’t a lot to worry about when formatting.

So once again, the focus is on mindset. And the possible overwhelm that the process might cause for you. Continue reading

Posted in Mindset | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Publishing Author’s Mindset – Formatting