As aspiring writers (especially those of us with full-time jobs), it’s very easy to burn the candle at both ends while we pursue our dreams, especially if we want to be the best in every aspect of our lives.

But I’ve come to realize (espcially after attending another conference) that I’m much better off in my writing and my work life if I take time to rest and recouperate.

This was discussed at a writing workshop I attended recently–and even published authors (especially those on deadline) have to strive for work/life balance. It’s a problem everyone faces, especially in this day and age.

So here are some things I’m going to try in my efforts to recharge my batteries in the coming week:

1. Let go of the guilt.
After I got home from my conference, I was so exhausted that I napped for a few hours and then spent the afternoon relaxing with a few movies. Often when I spend my time this way, I start to feel guilty–phrases like “I need to answer my email” and “I need to jot down the notes for that chapter” start rolling through my head. These are important tasks, but it’s more important for me to be recharged when I do them.

2. Take care of basic needs.
A very dear friend of mine gave me a very good analogy to the basic human needs of eating and sleeping. She compared them to the bottom rungs of a ladder–without adequate meals or rest, you can’t climb up the ladder, and you’ll always be stuck on the bottom rungs.

3. Make sure the writing comes first.
If those bottom rungs are intact, make sure your writing comes first, above Twittering, Blogging, Facebooking, Pinterest, etc. While those are great promotional avenues, you won’t have material to promote unless you write. Sometimes it helps to draw out a calendar to see how much time you spend on various tasks–you might be surprised at how many other activities are encroaching into your writing time. Lessen those, if possible.

4. Get some sleep.
Not only for the sake of rest, but for the sake of your health. A writer is no good on deadline if they’re ill or drowsy. Listen to your body’s exhaustion and let yourself shut your eyes, if only for a little while. I’ll let this TED talk from Arianna Huffington elaborate further:

Are you getting enough rest? What are some barriers that currently stand between you and the rest you need?

0 replies
  1. Daniel Swensen
    Daniel Swensen says:

    Great post. I think writers tend to overly romanticize the self-torment of sleeplessness, lack of food, and so on. It's the idea that we're “suffering for our art” — but the reverse is true. Our art is suffering for us.

  2. The Writer Librarian
    The Writer Librarian says:

    So true, Daniel! I hear about so many writers (both unpublished and published) who feel like they have to stretch themselves as thinly as possible just to break even. But you're right–ultimately, both they and their art suffer.


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