“We are never satisfied. How difficult it is to write something decent.” Paul Auster
“Be kind to yourself. Writing is hard work.” Juno Diaz
How true! I thought to myself when I heard Paul Auster discuss his new book on Stephen Crane, called “Burning Boy” in an online interview. We writers and all creatives in the arts are never satisfied, always yearning to convey our visions to the page. So often, we fall short.
And yet, there was a note of chronic disappointment and a touch of self-flagellation in Auster’s voice that sent up a red flag in my head.
Yes, writing is challenging. Yes, it’s hard work. Yes, it’s tough to write.
And yet, writing is also a gift, a pleasure, and a joy. Sometimes we find just the words we need and write something we really love. And as we grow in our craft, self-doubt gives way to confidence.
All of which brings me to my theme: self-care counts! Here’s a fruitful way of looking at this important skill: “the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.”
When we’re in the throes of writing and it’s proving thorny instead of thrilling, it’s easy to beat up on ourselves. All the old tapes kick in: “I’m not good enough.” “This isn’t working.” I’ll never get it right.”
When this happens, we go into fight or flight mode and stress kicks in. As writers, one of the skills we really need to cultivate is the art of self-care. To my mind, this means being kind to ourselves: Taking frequent breaks. Adopting a work-play approach to our writing day. Getting the exercise and sleep we need so we can focus and concentrate. Spending time in nature. Refilling our creative wells so we can come to the page brimming with ideas instead of sapped and stuck.
How about you? What self-care techniques do you find most helpful? I’d love to hear form you as we all write on!
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