Friday, March 18, 2016

Taking Care of Your Author Self – by Christine

I hear this advice at writers' conferences all the time:
  • Make writing a priority 
  • Get up before daylight to write at least a chapter a day
  • Do not watch TV
  • Write on the go with portable devices
  • Make sure your friends and family understand your need for writing time.
I believed that for a long time, until my last nerve snapped as I strove to be what I considered a successful author, and then required an entire year to recoup. 

Let me just say this: That kind of life is not worth it. Before you know it, you will burn out. TWEET THIS

And yet, you must write. You feel as though you were born for that purpose, and it does take a huge amount of commitment to become an author. This career does require the understanding and support of your family and closest friends. TWEET THIS

While I do not have the perfectly balanced life as a writer yet, over my 16 years of writing I have learned the following:

  • Put your spouse and family first—that may seem self-evident, but in reality, many of us writers are tempted to shortcut the most important relationships in our lives for our calling. I believe that’s when our vocation as a writer has become an obsession. When your writing starts to hurt those relationships, that’s when you have to ask if you are really obedient to God’s call on your life. TWEET THIS
  • Get your rest—for example, there is no way I can get up before dawn to write. I’ve tried and failed. Do not do this, unless of course you really, really like getting up at 4 AM. But maybe you’re a night owl and you’re better between the hours of midnight and 2. My point is; listen to your body clock. Go to bed when your body wants to. Me—I go to bed around 11PM and I’m up bright-eyed by 8AM.
  • Eat well—get your 4 to 5 servings of vegetables and fruit per day. Get your protein. Of course we all know we have to eat properly, but as a writer I know how easy it is to skip breakfast because that chapter is calling me. I know how easy it is to grab a square of cheese for lunch and some potato chips and a chocolate bar for supper. Those are the days that my husband isn’t home, but the temptation is there. So remember; a healthy mind and body will help you draw those stories out of your imagination and on to your computer screen.
  • Exercise—As a writer it is so easy to sit at my laptop for 12 hours at a time, only getting up for washroom breaks and when I’m starving. So get up and move at least every hour. Throw in a load of laundry as a writing break, then when that load is finished you have to get up and take it out and put it in the dryer. But I have found that the best ideas come to me when I’m out on my daily prayer walk with the Lord.
  • Spend time with friends. If you do, they will love you all the more and prayerfully support your vocation. The added bonus is friends often love to brainstorm ideas for your books with you.
  • Watch TV. You may not necessarily need to watch TV. I do so because it relaxes me in the evening with my husband. My point is this, do those things that relax you to give your brain time to rest and mull something over. 
  • Do not skimp on your time with God. A number of years ago I realized that I was guilty of fretting and striving toward my goal of being a successful writer. The words in Psalm 46:10 hit me between the eyes. “Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." Turn your striving into devotion to God. Surrender ALL to Him, and He will accomplish what He wants in your writing career. Remember all good things come from God. TWEET THIS
Each tidbit of my advice means that I am a slower writer than some of my peers, but I am meeting the requirements my body needs to be a healthy, productive person. I may not be putting a book out every year, more like every 2 years, but I have come to count success differently than when I first started writing. 
  • After 16 years of writing I now have 7 published books and am working on an 8th.
  • Though I do not make much money (almost breaking even) I love the excitement of opening up a box of my books from my publisher.
  • I get really excited over every single good review from a reader.
  • My writing friends have grown in number and they are all wonderful people.
  • I have learned that relationships and the journey to becoming a writer are far, far better than being as famous as even our beloved Francine Rivers.

Take care of your author self, love God, your family and spouse, and the Lord will help you write those books.
Christine


13 comments:

  1. Thanks for your wise words. While I'm not published yet, it's good to have some guidelines to help in my journey. I'm sometimes guilty of eating chocolate and chips for dinner if my husband isn't home. A very gentle reminder that I don't - and shouldn't! - have to stay chained to my laptop!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think it is so easy for us writers (artists of all genres) to let our art take over our entire lives. Something we must protect ourselves from, but at the same time protect the artistic gift we have been given. Like all things, trust the Lord for His timing in each day. Blessings, Jebraun.

      Delete
  2. Christine, this post is full of wisdom. I too have heard the same advice and have cringed because I know I cannot function this way. I appreciate the validation that others are like me, and that it does not make me an uncommitted author. Your writing is beautiful, and you are a blessing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I feel the same about you Regina. Our God is so good to give us each day, I don't think He wants us to be chained to our laptops either. All things are in His hands. Hugs for now.

      Delete
  3. I was there. Complete burn out. Thank you for a great reminder of how to balance it all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh Debra, so easy isn't it. Hang in there. You are a wonderful writer, but do take care of yourself.

      Delete
  4. Thanks for this wisdom, Christine. I often feel as if I'm running the hamster wheel, and coming up short. You've hit upon several areas the Lord has been nudging me to improve in. God bless you for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cynthia, I so know how you feel. As writers we really need to take better care of ourselves. Hugs for now.

      Delete
  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I'd add another suggestion to your list, Christine - find a way to work that suits you. I loved getting up at 4 am to write before I went to the day job. I've always been an early bird. What I always advise is to try out different ways of writing/finding time, and settle on whatever suits you. Don't listen to what people say you 'ought' to do. I play cards on the computer to get me started. My brain seems to recognise that as a precursor to getting into the writing mode, in other words a regular habit. Treadmill writing suits some people, but not most, I agree. Yes, spend quality time with good friends, but I cut out meaningless social interactions when I started writing seriously. Something has to give to allow writing time. And now, 75 novels later, I am still happily married, still love my family, and am still writing furiously.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great advice Anna. So true, we are all different and must find our unique ways of working. I really like your analogy of a treadmill that our brain gets into a habit. I've noticed the same thing. And Wow! 75 novels later, what a wonderful career the Lord has given you. Blessings.

      Delete
  7. Good for you for figuring out what works best for you. We're all different and cannot follow the same plan. Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So true, Cynthia, we are as different as the snowflakes that fall from the sky. Hugs and blessings.

      Delete

Contact Form

Name

Email *

Message *