Tag Archives: WriteOnCon

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 

Advertisement

January 2020 Wrapup

So how are you doing with your resolutions? I am proud that I have been able to keep up with mine.

Click here to read the results of my January 2020 Mount TBR Challenge.

Memoirs

Hey, hey, I read three memoirs this month, so I am already 1/4 of the way to the total number I wanted to read this year. I recommend all three, which are:

“The Long Hello: Memory, My Mother, and Me” by Cathie Borrie

Borrie intersperses stories of her growing up with her (then) current day of taking care of her mother with Alzheimer’s.

“Life Undercover: Coming of Age in the CIA” by Amaryllis Fox

Fox writes about her life from her childhood through her life in the CIA through her resignation and her life after. I wouldn’t normally read a memoir like this, but I am glad that I did. It gave me a peek into a life that I could never imagine living.

“The Unwinding of the Miracle: a Memoir of Life, Death, and Everything that Comes After” by Julie Yip-Williams

Yip-Williams had stage 4 colon cancer when she started writing this book. She writes about living and dying with cancer, as well as her childhood in Vietnam where she was born blind. Especially touching is her letter to her children in chapter 2.

Writing 250 words five days a week

I far surpassed my word count, even on the week that I had tendonitis in my left arm, although that meant that I had to type one handed on some days. I got one story idea out of my writing, which I need to flesh out.

Five days a week I will limit my social media: 15 minutes maximum for Facebook and 15 minutes maximum for Twitter.

I achieved this goal, and I found it to be very beneficial, although at times hard, because on the days that I was really tired, I found myself at first wanting to distract myself with social media. I have managed to break the habit, and now instead I look for something that really needs to be done, such as organizing my photo albums.

According to this article, you need down time to be creative anyway.

Read 5 creative nonfiction essays per week.

I found this to be particularly eye opening. You really need to think about the creative part of your nonfiction essay, as magazines and editors are always looking for new ways a subject is tackled. 

I particularly enjoyed the first three winning pieces in WOW’s 2020 Q1 Contest. Click here to access the following essays:

“Bugs: When I knew it was time to leave him” by Meghan Beaudry 

Beaudry describes her marriage before and after her illness, and how being able to get rid of a bug meant independence.

“The Hole” by Kelley Allen 

The twist at the end shocked me.

“Zucchini Bread Keeps Away the Dead” by Julide J Kroeker

Kroeker describes various ways she could kill herself and then ultimately why she would not.

Read 2 picture books per week.

I read more than 2 picture books per week. These are my favourites:

“Ping” by Ani Castillo

This is a very philosophical book in which a ping represents you and a pong the other.

“Nine Months Before a Baby is Born” by Miranda Paul and Jason Chin

I especially recommend this to parents who are expecting a second child.

“It Began With a Page: How Gyo Fujikawa Drew the Way” by Kyo Maclear

How a Japanese girl who felt invisible in America introduced diversity in children’s books. “Babies”, published in 1963, became one of the first children’s books to introduce multiracial characters.

Attend 12 writer’s events, whether these are workshops or writing circles or talks.

WriteOnCon currently has free Showcase webinars, and I watched the one on critiques, which was presented by Olivia Hinebaugh.

Spend one hour a week working on one of my many guided journals.

This was one of the most difficult goals to achieve, and I usually left it until the end of the week, but I did do it. My favourite journal was:

Blog one time a week except if I am on holidays.

Feel free to read my previous entries to confirm this.

Write about 10 objects for my “Cabinet of Curiosities” object diary per month.

This also was a challenge, and I left it until later in the month.

One fascinating thing I learned about while doing my research was the former East German company Expertic, which I have some pieces from.

How did you do? If you are having troubles meeting your goals, it may be because you are having difficulty changing your habits, and this article explains why.

Shoe’s Sunday Stories

@Copyright 2020 Linda Schueler