Do not forget to look after yourself. The artist struggling in their garret is a dangerous myth. If you’re struggling to write, or it’s causing you anxiety, or you’re tearing your metaphorical hair out to get that one perfect sentence, take a break. You’re not going to get anything productive done. Writing suffers when your back’s against the wall.
The problem is that I can’t tell the difference between self-care and laziness.
Self-care – being kind to oneself – is doing something other than writing. Guilt settles on me like a silverback, draping its long arms over my shoulders and nuzzling its soft lips against my neck. For a while I bear up; indeed, it might give me a short run of momentum. But soon I will fall, and what’s to stop those lips becoming teeth?
The cure, for me, is worse than the disease.
I have precious little time and I already waste too much of it on Twitter, on making coffee and on little things that are of no material use whatsoever. Self-care seems to me a lot like laziness.
Writing isn’t supposed to be easy. We find a problem, we work at it; to hide is to abnegate responsibility. When does ‘looking after yourself’ become ‘hiding from reality’? A five-minute break today is a ten-minute break tomorrow is a half-hour break is not writing at all.
This is not true. I know it’s not true, and I’m certainly not giving this as advice. But it’s what’s been inculcated within me; it’s the only way I know how to operate. I have trained myself to fear idleness. I have trained myself to sit in front of a computer and at least try to produce.
We all find our own ways to keep sane, to keep healthy, to get things done without the sky falling in on us. My way is to keep slapping plasters on an open wound. It’s not a solution and you shouldn’t listen to me.
But this ‘self-care is self-love’ thing only works if you love yourself in the first place.
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If you want something other than my ranty nonsense there are articles on self-care for writers via the writing.ie website. I was going to link to Chuck Wendig’s page anyway, because he’s a wise (and sweary) man. But just typing ‘self-help for writers’ into a search engine will get you plenty of solid advice.
Wishing you all the best mental health.