The Care And Feeding Of Writers

First, the excitement I woke up to this morning.

People, that is Devil’s Eye at NUMBER 3 in Bargain BOOKS (NOT just Kindle books, not just Hot New Releases, BOOKS OVERALL).  I intend to do a serious happy dance once I have caffeinated and am no longer in danger of breaking anything from my serious klutziness.  I just had to share the happy.

:pauses for that first, fabulous sip of hot tea: Mmm.

I find myself in the best mood the last couple of days.  I didn’t even get annoyed during the 2 hours I spent with my boss yesterday.  I know! Shocking, right?  I attribute the change to the fact that I am, quite simply, taking better care of myself.

Y’all listened to me grouse and moan from March through the end of December last year about how over-stretched and TIRED I was.  Hubby’s broken leg knocked me on my butt and I never really felt like I recovered the rest of the year.  There was always more stuff that needed doing, more that had to be put off for lack of time.  It’s enough to fry anybody’s brain, even someone as freakishly productive and organized as me. The one thing I did to simplify my very busy life last year was to drop the community college teaching (which I hated anyway) when my university offered me more sections of upper level psych classes.

But it wasn’t enough.  So I declared 2011 the Year Of Simplification!  Man, y’all should see the planner in my phone.  I started listing all kinds of projects that will, over the year, have the ENTIRE HOUSE cleaned out and organized (long overdue).  This weekend’s project is to clean out the sock drawer and reorganize my sweaters.  I’ve also made it a new policy that I can do something really shocking–SAY NO.  Now I’ve never really felt like I had a problem doing this for things I truly didn’t want to do, but I do often take on extra stuff I really don’t have time for when I DO want to do them or to help folks out.  I’m trying to be more realistic about what I can do without really stressing out.  I’ve pulled out of a few “extra-curriculars” that were taking up time.  Cut back on my food blogging a bit.  All those things certainly helped my stress level.

Since New Year’s I’ve dived back into healthy eating to carve off the six pounds I gained over the holidays (stinking holiday weight…), getting my portions back under control, upping my fruit and veggie intake.  Everybody at the office thinks I’m some kind of brilliant radical for bringing a big bowl of apples to keep on my desk.  Might as well take them where I am when I GET the afternoon noshies.  I haven’t finished losing the weight (sadly that will probably be March), but I’m on my way and my body is physically feeling better–less bloated and more functional, for having been back to normal, healthy food.

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve also gotten back into regular exercise.  Somehow this is so often the thing to go when life gets busy.  Because I get TIRED, and when you’re tired, exercise is so not what you feel like doing.  Monday I’m starting a new routine where I get up earlier (I know.  Shocking.  Pick yourself up off the floor.  I promise the apocalypse isn’t starting.) during the week so that I have time to get my full cardio workout of biking and boxing in BEFORE work, which leaves time at lunch for a weights routine or yoga, both of which I really feel like I need to do (and neither of which will leave me as sweaty and in need of a shower before I go back to work).  It will tone and soothe me, which goes back to that whole taking care of myself physically.

The thing about it is, the writing just goes smoother when I FEEL BETTER.  When I’m healthy and well-rested and fit, my brain just works better.  And I think that’s really something that we as working writers (by which I mean those of us who have to work other Evil Day Jobs and THEN find time to write around family–or when family IS the EDJ) often neglect.  We push and push and make the time for the work–which is GOOD.  But we often don’t take time for OURSELVES.  Women and moms are PARTICULARLY bad about this, be they writers or not.  We make sure every single person in the household is taken care of and then don’t remember (or in some cases think we deserve) to take care of US.

It’s all about BALANCE.  Mind/body.  Work/play.  Family/personal.

I feel like I’ve hit a better balance already this year, and it’s showing in my writing.  I’ve been averaging 750-1k+ words EVERY DAY, where last year it was a struggle to even make 500.  That, my friends, is an enormous difference.

So as I sit here about to embark on those words for the day on the anthology story I’m blowing through and contemplating a second cup of tea, I challenge you all to GO DO SOMETHING FOR YOURSELF TODAY.  Read something fun.  Cook something delicious and healthy.  Go walk your dog in the sunshine.  Have a hot bath and a glass of wine.  Maybe it’ll only be for 20 minutes and you’ll have to shanghai your spouse or significant other into wrangling the kids, but I swear, you’ll feel so much better for having done it.

16 thoughts on “The Care And Feeding Of Writers

  1. I think you’ve got it exactly right – I know I can’t write when I don’t feel well in myself, which recently has been due to back trouble, but more often than not is due to stress regarding work and life in general.

    If I eat properly and exercise, the problems don’t go away, but I gain a considerable amount of perspective about them. Proper eating balances out my mood and proper regular exercise (weights and cardio) helps me to sleep the night through with no horrible dreams.

    It’s amazing what can be achieved with a healthy lifestyle, and the results are visible within two or three days.

  2. Wow, congratulations! That’s really good news!
    And it’s great that you’re finding *the balance* and can write more. Haha, enjoy your day 😀

  3. Hooray for number 3! Wow!

    And what a great post. Balance in life is what we should all shoot for. Especially for us moms and those with, like you said, ‘evil day jobs’. And saying NO is a big problem for me as well. I’ve done that myself recently and it’s amazing how a little bit less stressed I am. 🙂 However, I do still have a lot of things I need to get a handle on and get my life and home in order. Your post has helped get me a little more motivated to do this.

  4. Massive, humungous congrats, Kait! That is really fantastic news about the book. And you are right about exercise… I have to get back to it myself… I am a much better human being when I’m more oxygenated. 🙂


  5. Congrats, Kait! Number three!

    I can so relate to feeling better, and writing better when eating right and exercising. My whole life is better when I’m taking care of myself. I’m trying to, but it’s taking a lot of discipline that I’m not good at. Baby steps.

  6. That is an extremely inspiring post on many levels.
    Congratulations on your #3! A friend of mine swears that when you take care of yourself, your whole world improves proportionally. She calls it, “your insides matching your outsides.” So don’t be surprised when your book does even better!

    1. Oh well that’s a lovely thought. I’m a big fan of the notion that your environment impacts and mirrors your inner person. If your environment is chaotic, you’ll be chaotic, and the like. Sounds like your friend’s concept is similar!

  7. Your post has me enthused about getting my own life back in order, Kait 🙂 Keep it up! Sounds like you’re doing great 🙂

    Hey, congratulations on being in that list of top 100 Bargain books!!!

  8. Congrats on the awesome sales! And amen to the rest of your post. When I am tempted to say yes to something, even something that I want to do, I remind myself that saying yes to one thing means saying no to something else (be it another activity, sleep, etc). You can’t create more time!

  9. Congrats, Kait! That is SO awesome about DE. 😀 *happy Chandler dance*

    Also, you’re SO right. When we take care of ourselves, it shows in our writing. I absolutely believe this. When I get enough sleep, eat fairly well, and stay active, everything just simply works better, including my words. Excellent advice! Maybe I’ll go walk the dog in the sunshine later, get some fresh air. 🙂

  10. Congrats on your stats! Your post was a good reminder that we do need to take care of ourselves in order to have energy for those sparks of creative writing. Some nights,though, I have to make a choice between writing and working out. How did you make the change to morning exercise? I am in awe of that feat alone. It’s always sounded good to me in theory.

    1. Well I have NEVER been a night or even afternoon exerciser. I do much better working out early…before I’m conscious enough to talk myself out of it. I actually used to work out before work or school for years until the last few years when I was just too wiped out. I already did a short 20 minute workout before work, and squeezed in another at lunch. So this was really more just getting up early enough to do both before work. Today was the first day and for a Monday it went okay. I just have to keep it up!

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