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  • Dasia Zanders

Self Care and Writing

It's almost inevitable for any writer to avoid confrontation with their own work. Often we spend hours writing, editing, getting frustrated, and then writing again. It's normal to lack in creativity on some days and it's completely normal to find yourself getting aggravated with the quality of your work when you're only on the first draft. I am guilty of depriving myself of sleep because of my writing, sometimes I'm awake until early morning without the realization hitting me until I hear the birds outside which makes me in no position to lecture other writers about being awake at ridiculous hours. What I can caution is the importance of taking care of yourself as much as you can while writing. From my own experiences I've become so absorbed in my own work that I've unintentionally skipped meals or find myself in a poor condition from lack of hydration and sleep which is why I've made little tips and rules for myself that may serve as little reminders for others. Whether you are writing a novel, a short story, fan fiction, or an essay for class I hope you can take some of these as reminders and reassurances.

-Always keep a bottle of water beside you. Before you even sit down to write try to arrange at least two drinks to be ready to go. One drink can be anything of your choice such as coffee or tea, but the second drink should be water to maintain healthy hydration. You may be sitting for hours to write but you need to keep up your hydration for the sake of your health and your concentration.

-Take breaks to eat snacks and have a meal. It's so easy to get caught up in the work but train yourself to at least have enough breaks to get some food in your system. Personally, I'm no good at creating a story if I'm running off of starvation. How is my brain supposed to generate new ideas if it's lacking fuel to keep going?

-Space out the work load. Never force yourself in a position where you make yourself write everything in one day, that will only leave you with headaches and maybe even self-loathing when things don't go as you planned. If you know you have a deadline to meet plan out a schedule that allows you to work on sections at a time. If you insist on writing an entire piece in one sitting make sure you're doing it because you're genuinely in the mood not because you feel obligated to do it or because you feel guilty if you don't complete something in one go.

-Sleep is important. I'm not trying to sound like a hypocrite because like I previously said I'm guilty of staying up late at night myself with my keyboard and journals, but I'm trying to get better about that. If you find yourself getting tired I think it's more than acceptable to take a break for a nap. Don't deprive yourself of sleep when your body needs it. You're not giving up or failing by going to bed at a reasonable time or taking a nap, if anything you're doing a great justice to your writing when you come back refreshed.

-Please, do not compare yourself to your work. Your work is part of you and you are part of your work but that doesn't mean your work defines everything about who you are and where you're going. The first draft will never be perfect. Those characters you created that seem to have everything put together don't diminish your self worth if you don't reflect their flawless ways. The characters that are full of sorrow and seem to have no way out don't have any indication that you won't get through your own battles. Yes, we pour ourselves into all sorts of intricate words, but that doesn't mean our realities are any less special.

-Take a deep breath when you get upset. It's okay to have writers block and everyone who has written anything in their life knows it's complicated some days to find the right words. All of us have gotten upset during the writing process but it's how we handle the frustration that makes the greatest impact on the paper. Remember that every obstacle has some sort of solution even if the solution is going back to make new plans.

-You'll always be more than enough. Maybe this one is more of my depression nipping at my ear, but every now and then I feel a dull emptiness when I write. It has nothing to do with the story or any lack of passion on my part, it has everything to do with wondering if what I'm writing is even going to be worth anything at the end. Is anyone going to like what I've written? Am I going to like what I've written? Do my characters seem realistic or did I polish them up too much? Did I leave plot holes and if I did how many am I going to find later that I missed during proof reading? There's swarms of questions filled with self-doubt and sometimes self-criticism, but I have to keep reminding myself that I'm more than enough. I'm more than enough for myself. I'm more than enough for my writing. I need to trust myself and love myself more. All of us do.

My point is that writing brings a lot of us a sense of self. It brings us a feeling that's so difficult to make others understand no matter how many ways we try to rearrange words to give it the proper description. It's never the writing that can destroy us, it's our lack of self-care and reassurance that can turn a work of art into an ominous reminder. To all my fellow writers, please practice self-care especially while you write that way your work can always be the beautiful therapeutic masterpiece you intended it to be.

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