Tuesday, October 29, 2013

I thought I’d talk to you today about “taking care of the writer.” 
We talk a lot about formatting, scene and sequence, characterization, plots, even synopsis … but we rarely talk about the writer.

Whether you are a writer or just know someone who is, I think there are certain things that you can do to take care of yourself.

  1. Let go of the guilt. Many of us feel pulled in a dozen different directions. When we do finally sit down to write, we feel guilty—because we’re not doing something else. Clothes need folding, or dishes need washing, or maybe the lawn needs to be mowed! All those are good things, but when you do sit down to write—just write. Let the guilt go.
  2. Get some sleep. I know we all want to write the book. We have the characters and ideas and plots in our mind. However, our body needs rest. Even when I was teaching full time and writing for multiple houses, I made sure I had 6 hours of sleep during the week and 7-8 on weekends. Your body and your  mind needs that time. In my opinion, you’re better off writing one hour instead of two, if it means you get the sleep you need.
  3. Step away from the computer! Oh my, between blogging, writing, and social media I could sit at my computer for EVER. Because I’m never really done. It’s hard for me to swallow that one. I always thought I could complete any to-do list if I focused. It’s important to realize that you need to step away from the computer. You need to eat, spend time with your family, and take a walk outside. You need to LIVE, and when you do – you’re writing will be much richer.
  4. Say yes to your family. I will confess that when my children were young, and I was writing, there was a note on the door. “Don’t knock unless you’re bleeding – a LOT.” I was serious too. Mom’s time in the cave was important. However, my kids are older now, grown and moved out of the house. And I almost never turn them down if they call and ask me to go see a movie, or eat dinner, or let them come and do laundry. We play board games or watch old movies on tv. We spend time together. They really are more important to me than words on a page.
  5. Take Sunday off. I know. I know. When my pastor first spoke on this, I asked him, “Do you mean like … every Sunday?” He decided I needed an intervention. But the truth is that we all need a day of rest. And it’s sort of – well, a commandment. So take one day off a week, whether it’s Sunday or some other day.
  6. Get moving. When I’m stuck on a word, a get down on the floor and do 10 sit-ups. When I make my word count, I reward myself with a visit to the gym or a 20 minute walk through the neighborhood. Then I come back home and start working on the blogs, marketing, and accounting. We have to take care of ourselves physically, or our writing will suffer.
  7. Eat what your body needs. You body does not need Cheetos or chunky monkey ice cream or a 2 liter of soda. You need fruits, vegetables, and a lot of water. You need a little meat and cheese. It’s pretty easy really. Want to feel good? Want to write well? Eat and when you do, eat the right things.

It probably sounds like I don’t spend any time writing. But I do! Honest! I spend at least 8 hours a day, and when I was working full time I spent 2 hours before work and 2 hours after. I love to write. I love to sit in from of my computer and make it up. I have a set word goal every day, and I write 3-4 books a year. I’m focused—like a laser. But it’s very important to take care of myself. If that means that I don’t have time for Candy Crush, that’s okay. If it means that I have one less post on Facebook, that’s okay. Set your priorities, and then follow them – and make one priority taking care of yourself.

If this list seems impossible, start with one item. Bless yourself in one way for a month. Then go back to the list and choose one more.

May your rest, and your writing, be everything you’ve dreamed it will be.

Vannetta Chapman is the author of several novels, including A Promise for Miriam and Falling to Pieces. She discovered her love for the Amish while researching her grandfather’s birthplace in Albion, Pennsylvania. Vannetta won the 2012 Carol award for best mystery. She is also a multi-award-winning member of Romance Writers of America. She write Amish romance for Harvest House, Amish mysteries for Zondervan and Amish novellas for Abingdon. Vannetta was a teacher for 15 years and currently resides in the Texas Hill country. For more information, visit her at www.VannettaChapman.com.


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  1. I'm not a writer but what you said in this post could pertain to anyone. I think you are spot on Vannetta! I always find your posts very interesting and helpful.

    Judy B

  2. Words of wisdom, Vannetta. Could be applied to anyone.

  3. Refreshing reminders, Vannetta! I'd also add quiet time with Jesus. I can't survive or thrive without it. Sometimes I try. I skirt right past Him in the morning, but He lovingly and gently calls me to sit with Him. Time spent with Him relaxes me and directs me, thus multiplying my efforts at the keyboard.

  4. Thank you for posting this. I needed a reminder to take care of myself. Perfect reading for my day.

  5. Some great ideas for EVERYONE!! Not just authors!


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