Self-Care for Writers – Watch your Thoughts

Inner Voice

Inner Voice

“Thoughts become things.”
– Mike Dooley, Notes from the Universe

Now this may sound very, very woowoo. Very spiritual and quite useless for everyday life.

It isn’t.

Because how we think about ourselves, our writing, our lives – all of that influences our focus, our work habits and eventually what kind of lives we actually live.

And that’s why I’m writing about your (our) thoughts.

1. Thoughts about ourselves

Take a moment and listen to how you talk to yourself in your thoughts.

Most often, that voice we use to talk to ourselves is a harsh voice. A hard taskmaster. And sometimes, a rather nasty voice.

Oh, you’re such an idiot.

Not good enough. Write more.

Get moving, you lazy ass!

And so an and so forth. Does that sound familiar?

It’s how I used to talk to myself, as well. I thought that being hard on myself like that would make me work harder and get more done. I thought that was how everyone thinks to themselves.

I’ve been completely wrong. Continue reading

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Self-Care for Writers – Quieting the Mind

Peaceful Mind

Peaceful Mind

For us writers, the mind is the most important tool. It is where our stories are born. It’s where they grow into full tales that make it to the keyboard, paper or file. It’s more important than the computer and all the other tools we use to get our stories out into the world, because they wouldn’t exist without the mind.

And so we need to take care of the mind as well as the body.

And that’s especially true if we work a day job, have a family and write. It’s not always easy to let go of those parts of our lives and dive into our stories.

I’ll write about transition rituals next week, because I want to do some groundwork today.

If you’re even a bit like me, your mind is full of thoughts every moment in your life. You’re thinking about books and stories, about people you meet, you might even have conversations with them in your mind, and even when you go to bed, it’s hard to stop that run-away train of thoughts. Continue reading

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Self-Care for Writers – Posture

Jumping Jack

Jumping Jack

Now, I’m not a physiotherapist. And yes, I’ve dealt with back pains and wrenched backs a few times in my life, so I know how that feels. And I’m certainly not perfect in my posture, nor avoiding all problems.

But I know one thing: We writers tend to sit too much.

So kudos to all of you who already work at a standing desk, on a treadmill or who dictate their stories while walking outside – you’re awesome.

Most of us aren’t there.

I sit at a desk most of the time. Both at my day job and at home. I have a laptop, but I don’t feel very comfortable moving around with it. At home, my place simply is at my desk. *grins*

The one thing I do for my health while sitting at my desk is using one of those stools with rockers and knee supports. That is supposed to force me to sit up straight (also puts my hands at the optimal height for the keyboard tray), to keep me moving a little, and to keep my back muscles from atrophying. That does work unless… Continue reading

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Self-Care for Writers – Carpal Tunnel

Carpal Tunnel

Carpal Tunnel

Last week I wrote about pain and how to tap for it.

Next, I want to look at some reasons for pain that we create ourselves. I have close and personal experience with at least two of them… let’s start with the one that’s more typical for writers.

Carpal Tunnel

Unfortunately, this is a common one among writers, simply because we move our  hands so much in typing.  My own story about Carpal Tunnel is a bit unusual, but bear it in mind.

Carpal Tunnel is a repetitive strain injury.

And common wisdom holds it that it comes from too much typing.

I got a new computer at work, and my IT colleague flipped out the little supports on the keyboard before she put it on my desk, making it sit higher in the back, making me bend my wrists more when typing. I didn’t really like it, but she assured me it would make typing better. So I left it at that. Continue reading

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Self-Care for Writers – Pain

Headache

Headache

So I did a really stupid thing last night and tried to sleep through a fairly strong headache. I don’t usually take anything for headaches, but maybe I should have…

Even so, I managed to get some sleep (and had some wild dreams). The one thing that helped me sleep was EFT tapping. I’m so used to it that I can tap just feeling the tapping points and thinking the words.

I don’t recommend that for beginners, because EFT really works faster if you put your emotions behind it and speaking the sentences out loud – even cursing at times – does make it easier.

So anyway, I tapped on the pain and stuff that bothered me, and pretty soon I was yawning and falling asleep. I had to repeat that in the middle of the night, but other than that, I did get most of the sleep I need per night. (Although that darn headache still isn’t entirely gone.)

There are a few tricks to tapping on pain that I want to share with you today. Continue reading

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Self-Care for Writers – Vacation

Good self-care includes breaks.

Which is why I am on vacation this week. I’m visiting my Dad and enjoying his company very much. However, he doesn’t want to be on social media, so I’m just sharing the cosy spot on his balcony where we share meals when it’s nice and warm.

Give yourself breaks. This is a very low-cost one (just the train tickets, really), and it’s incredibly restorative.

I’ll be back to posting full articles next week.

Dad's balcony

Dad’s Balcony

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Self-Care for Writers – Walking

Walking

Walking

I’m going to stay just a little longer with that terrible word: Exercise.

But since I believe that gyms provide a most unnatural way of exercising and  are about the most evil invention ever (granted, they are helpful if you need to strengthen some specific parts of your body), you won’t ever get a recommendation for gym work from me.

Instead, I want to suggest something else entirely:

Walking.

Humans evolved as hunters and gatherers. Which means that walking (and sometimes running) are the most natural kinds of moving around. And walking is safer than running, for your joints and your heart, and in combination with dogs. Ahem. Continue reading

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Self-Care for Writers – Moving

Dancing on the Spot

Dancing on the Spot

I think for many writers there is a nasty four-letter word that’s spelled with eight letters: Exercise.

I mean, we usually sit at a desk in front of a computer (like old-fashioned me) or somewhere with a laptop or even cell phone, but usually we sit, and the only parts of our body that really move are just our fingers.

Exercise simply takes precious writing time, especially if you’re scraping out your writing time from work, caring for a family and having other obligations.

So for now, I’ll just say “moving”. Because that’s a form of exercise that doesn’t sound as dangerous, does it?

There are lots of ways to get moving.

Now I’m in the happy position that I can walk to my day job, which takes me roughly 20 minutes each way. That is pretty good, and yet I’m not really in good shape. But if you can add 20 minutes of walking at a good clip to your day, you’ll already get a lot more movement than most writers. Continue reading

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Self-Care for Writers – Insomnia

I can't sleep

I can’t sleep

There are few things worse than trying to fall asleep and failing. Getting angry at not being able to sleep, which of course makes everything worse. And feeling bad for not getting all the nice sleep you scheduled after reading last week’s post.

I’ve been there.

In my case, it was made worse by a snoring partner (those days are gone, though), and by a lot of worry. I think worry is actually the thing that is behind most of the times when we cannot stop the brain from thinking.

My brain serves up anything from worry to character dialogue to old incidences that still bother me to imagined disputes with imagined people, trouble with the electricity company… you’re probably nodding because you know all this.

Well, most of that stopped after I discovered EFT. Continue reading

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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. Continue reading

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