Tag Archives: self care

Writers and Self Care

Lately I have seen workshops and webinars about writing and self care popping up. I am glad to see that this important topic is being addressed.

A lot of writers share the same traits. We are often introverted. We can isolate ourselves. Many of us suffer from anxiety and depression.

Writers also are in an industry that can be really tough. We face a lot of rejection. There are many ways that we are sucked into comparing ourselves. We often suffer from impostor syndrome.

So what is a writer to do? It helps to know that a writer is not alone, which is why it is wonderful to see these workshops and webinars. We can learn from each other.

I recently watched a Showcase webinar from WriteOnCon about the topic. I will share one insight from each of the three facilitators that resonated with me.

Tara Gilbert, an agent and writer: 

Gilbert advises writers to find an alternative creative outlet, such as painting, playing the piano, or, in her case, photographing her dog. Know your limits, and when writing becomes too much, engage in one of these choices instead.

Monica Hay, a former social worker and a writer: 

Hay doesn’t do social media anymore (except for a little bit of Twitter about once a week). She found that when she deleted her accounts, it did amazing things for her mental health. There are a lot of comparisons happening on social media, as well as a lot of bullying. 

Jessica Bayliss, a psychologist and writer:

Bayliss has found it beneficial to find a support group that is separate from her critique group. Your critique group may not be able to offer you the support that you need, and your support group should be there to support you in ways separate from critiquing.

Jessica Bayliss also runs a series on her blog called “It’s a Writer Thing”. Click here to read one of her posts; this one is about pairing a stimulus with your writing to create a habit.

Phil Stamper, who is an author, but also works for a major publisher, was interviewed during WriteOnCon about “Mental Health as a Writer”. What he does to cope with anxiety is to set boundaries, e.g., he won’t check his e-mail in the middle of his workday in case he gets a rejection, which will ruin his day. Instead he will check his e-mail later in the day. Also, he suggests celebrating “milestones”, such as getting your first full request. Many writers never even get that far. In fact, many writers never even get as far as writing a few chapters! Celebrate that!

I also found the panel, hosted by Inkwell, that I attended at Wild Writers Festival helpful. Afterwards they gave out a handout regarding writing about difficult subjects. In the handout one of the suggestions is to “Make a list of ways to take care of yourself when your writing triggers tough feelings…” The group takes it a step further and suggests that the list should include ways to indulge in all five senses.

I didn’t indulge in all senses last week (but it’s something I am going to think about doing more), but I am going to write down five things that helped me:

  • During a really low point last week, I confessed my fears and thoughts of failure to my naturopath, who gave me a much needed pep talk.
  • I spent some time colouring again, sometimes while listening to favourite music.
  • I walked every day. I have increased the lengths of my walk again, which have helped me to process a lot of my thoughts. Plus anytime getting out in the sun, especially in the winter, is beneficial.
  • I spent a lovely morning volunteering at the butterfly conservatory. Not only did I get to chat with some of the employees, but I also surrounded myself with the plants, birds, and butterflies of the tropical paradise.
  • I kept up my writing habits, despite feeling down about my writing in general. 

No matter where you are in your writing journey, your writing benefits you in some way, even if you are not at the point of being published. You are transforming into that butterfly, even if it doesn’t feel like it! Happy writing.

Shoe’s Sunday Stories

@Copyright 2020 Linda Schueler 

Wild Writers Literary Festival 2019

The Wild Writers Literary Festival is held once a year in Waterloo, Ontario. I enjoyed my first festival so much last year, I decided to attend again this year. This year I signed up for three workshops.

“Facing Your Fear of Poetry”

The facilitator, Sarah Tolmie, is an associate professor at University of Waterloo.

The workshop began with us breaking into groups of four in order to braid long ropes together. Although no one understood why we were doing this exercise, we had a lot of fun with it. You can see the results in the picture.

Afterwards we discovered that weaving together the braids was a metaphor for the process of creating poems. We then discussed what we had learned through the activity. For example, weaving together the strands made them connected, and, therefore, stronger. As well, you need to get the blood flowing to your brain in order to be able to create. So if you are ever sitting in front of a blank screen, then go out and do something, and, according to Tolmie, preferably something complicated.

“Ten Tips for Writing Great Creative Nonfiction”

This was my favourite workshop of all three. One reason is that I am starting to write more and more creative nonfiction.

The other is because the facilitator Ayelet Tsabari, author of a memoir in essays called “The Art of Leaving”, was very generous in sharing her tips to writing great creative nonfiction.

Tsabari began by saying that everybody has a story. (This is something I have always said. I really enjoy talking to people about their story as opposed to the latest TV shows or movies.) However, if you want to write great creative nonfiction, you need to tell your story well. Tsabari shared some tips about how to do so. She gave many great suggestions including discussing that often puzzling term called “Voice”, which she defined as your distinct personality, or what sets you apart from other writers. She also tackled the controversial issue of “show and tell”. According to Tsabari, you need to not only show but also tell; however, you need to know when to do each. In the picture you can read one of the author’s examples of showing from her own work.

A member of the “Creative Nonfiction Collective Society”, a national organization, gave a brief talk at the beginning of this workshop. The society will be announcing a contest soon, and they will host a conference in Toronto in May 2020.

“Self-Care for Writers 101”

This workshop was facilitated by Inkwell Workshops, a Toronto based organization.

A panel of writers discussed self-care for writers, which is a topic that needs to be addressed more often. For example, after writing, particularly on a difficult topic, you need to do something you enjoy. For me, that would mean taking a walk or chatting with a friend. How about you?

I am looking forward to next year’s Wild Writers Literary Festival. As well, I am considering entering the Creative Nonfiction Collective Society’s contest and may even attend their 2020 conference.

Shoe’s Sunday Stories

@Copyright 2019 Linda Schueler