I Need A Nap: The Importance Of Writer Wellness

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a “do as I say, not as I do” kind of person. I’ll tell people to take it easy and take care of themselves, but I’m usually the last person to follow my own advice. Mark (and my friends, and my therapist…) has repeatedly told me that I need to take it easy, that I can’t push myself past the point of burnout, and that I shouldn’t eat lunch at my desk and/or skip a lunch break altogether. But with having to deal with some minor health issues these past few months, I’ve been forced to writer wellness more seriously.

Thanks to my notebook collection, I’ve started keeping a log of when my chronic physical and mental health issues flare up. Given a few recent sick days, I’m starting to wonder if I’m turning into one of those people whose health is affected by the weather. And thanks to confirmation from a healthcare professional, I at least know that some of the issues I’ve been having are simply the result of age (yay 30s). So I’m keeping this little health journal to see if I notice any trends. That way, maybe I can plan around when my body needs. If it turns out that my chronic issues are in fact affected by the weather, I can work half days around Mother Nature’s schedule. If not… Well, hopefully my log will reveal something I’ve missed or haven’t yet considered.

So, yes, I think I’m started to take writer wellness much more seriously than before.

And it’s more than just eating right, exercising, meditating, getting enough sleep, and all the stuff you usually hear about. I’ve come to learn that listening to your body and what it needs in that moment is the most important part. If you’re in the middle of a writing sprint and you suddenly realize that you haven’t moved or eaten in a while, that’s probably a good time to take care of what your body needs. And yes, I know first hand that if you get that neurodivergent hyperfocus, then stepping away from your work can be hard to do.

No one said taking care of our meat prisons (I mean, bodies) was easy.

But on the other side of that is the brain fog that comes with illness and/or chronic health conditions. Just like it’s hard to take care of yourself when you’re absorbed in the hyperfocus, it’s hard to write and be creative when you’re at the mercy of your body.

There’s that saying we all know: “write every day.” In a way, I disagree with it. Especially, if you write for work, you need days off. And the same is true if you need to take a sick day. But when chronic conditions are a factor, you need to be careful that skipping a day of writing here and there doesn’t become a habit. Giving yourself a two day weekend is fine, but skipping writing for two weeks is not. Like with anything, it’s easy to say “I’ll just do it tomorrow.” And then, one day you might notice that many tomorrows have come and gone.

But I’m in no way suggesting you should force yourself to write. Even when I’m sick, I still try to write a few words – even if it’s just a newsletter or a blog post. But there have been days when I’ve forced myself to get words on the page when I probably should have rested instead.

In one of my current WIPs, Flasher, I forced myself to get two microfiction pieces added to the project – not because I was inspired, but because I felt I needed to get words on the page for the sake of making progress. When I was feeling better and looked back at what I wrote, I realized it was horrible and that those stories would never survive editing or even beta reading. Had I been inspired to write something specific, that would have been different and the stories likely would have been salvageable. But what I wrote that day had no redeeming qualities whatsoever. All I did was waste my own time and energy, but I learned from that mistake.

So, what is the moral of the story here? Write every day, except when you’re inspired or sick? But when you are writing, make sure to take breaks?


Better yet: Listen to your body. All writers are different. We all have different health needs, schedules, responsibilities, obligations, and goals. My advice and anecdotes may help some writers, but not all. And that’s okay. All you need to do is what’s right for you.

Take it easy, friends.

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