This month on the blog, we’re tackling the issue of staying healthy while on this crazy writing train. Heather and Trish both talked about physical health and things they’re doing to stay active. And I was originally going to chat about that. How I made myself a treadmill desk (take that, guy at Lowe’s who asked if my husband would be able to figure it out), and how I’ve started taking my dog for a two-mile a day walk.
But then I decided I wanted to talk about the other side of things: our mental and emotional health.
Whether you suffer from a mental illness or not, there’s no avoiding the fact that this industry takes a toll on everyone. I’m not exactly a seasoned veteran, but after a few years in the business, I’ve taken some steps to help me stay focused and happy.
- Do not look at the reviews. Ever.
I learned this very early on in my career. And learned it totally by accident. I stumbled upon a review—a three star review, I believe—and I can’t even recall now what it said. All I remember is that one small sentence in there froze my writing mojo for weeks. Weeks. So, nope, I steer clear of Goodreads and Amazon. And while sometimes I get sad that this means I miss out on some lovely words from lovely reviewers, it’s what I have to do so I can continue producing words.
- Stop comparing yourself to everyone else.
I’ll admit this is the one I struggle with the most. It’s a constant battle, and one I rarely (if ever) intend to engage in, yet it happens. I’ll be strolling along on Twitter, minding my business and being totally jolly, when suddenly a PM announcement for a fourteen book deal for nine figures gets posted and it’s from an author whose debut came out a year after mine*. And then suddenly I’m looking at my backlist and my advances and my upcoming deals and comparing them all to Ms. Nine Figures, and then I’m on a downward spiral ain’t nobody got time for.
On days like these (and there are many. Many, many, many.), I just repeat over and over again, “Their path is not my path.”
Sometimes it helps. Sometimes I need ice cream. Either way, it’s a great reminder that no two careers are alike.
*totally hypothetical situation, in case my hyperbole wasn’t clue enough
This is something I’ve just recently started trying after I saw Marie Forleo mention in one of her videos that she does it as a way to clear her mind and increase her productivity. I’ll be honest and say I’m not sure if it’s made a significant impact on me or not, but I enjoy doing it. I downloaded the free app Stop, Breathe & Think, and I really love having those five+ minutes just for me to do nothing but chill and clear my mind. One neat thing with the SB&T app is that you can select which kind of meditation to do based on your mood and how you’re feeling emotionally/mentally. So if you’re feeling anxious, it’ll suggest a specific meditation to help relieve that.
- Gather thy tribe
There is absolutely no freakin’ way I’d be able to survive without my tribe. I have several friends—most of whom are writers—who I use as sounding boards, venting partners, and shoulders to lean on. Whether it’s a plot point I’m stuck on, an ad I can’t figure our, or if I want to whine about Ms. Nine Figures, they’re there with their (how’s that for a grammar lesson?) pom-poms and words of encouragement when I need them. I would be so lost without that connection and support system.
What about you? What steps have you taken to keep yourself happy mentally and emotionally while writing?