June 26th, 2013 | by Beth Barany
Note: “I used Grammarly to grammar check this post, because what the heck and I don’t have an English degree. Nor do I want one.
In this culture, we often think that the way to get ahead is to do what others want. But as a creative soul who has unique gift to the world — as we all do — we actually need to serve ourselves, our passion, our heart, first, before we consider the needs of others. Writers, give to yourself first. The reason is that if we’re not full of love, fire, passion, we are empty toward the world, and have nothing of spark and substance to give.
Over the last six months, I’ve been on a journey of embracing self-care as my number one priority, and not in theory but in practice.
What does this mean?
It means that I put my writing first. Nope, I don’t get up at the wee hours of the morning to write. That would mean sacrificing my sleep — a very important part of my self-care. I also don’t write every day, because I need breaks from my writing, too. Breaks are an essential part of being a novelist. I need to step away from the world of my books and live in the “real” world, observe people, sometimes talk to them even! I need to have visceral lived-in experiences, like sticking my hands in the dirt and weeding my garden. I need to get as far away as possble from words, the craft of writing, the world of publishing, etc.
But only after I’ve done my writing. I make my writing doable, actually something I can accomplish in my busy life. What that looks like right now is that I write on average 350 words only four days a week on my current Work In Progress (WIP). I need, yes, actually, need, to be working on a first draft of something all the time. And yes, I also have other books and stories at various stages of editing or creating. (One novel is in its final edits; a novella is in the planning stage; a third novel is in the “think/daydream” stage.)
My favorite place to write these days is in my wicker rocking chair on my patio, my feet up on an upturned pot. My coffee is on a three-legged stool beside me, and my cats mew and inquire until they see my attention is not on them, but on my laptop, on my WIP.
This post is about you, writers, putting yourself first. How can you do that in your life today? What are you willing to commit to here and now in the comments below?
PS. My first draft got a 76 out of 100 at Grammarly, and I learned the proper use of “yourself,” a reflexive pronoun.