It’s incredibly easy for those of us pursuing writing careers to put jobs, clients, finances, due dates, and word counts ahead of our own sanity and authentic needs. Cheryl Richardson’s book, “The Art of Extreme Self-Care: Transform Your Life One Month at a Time” makes a great touchstone for a heart-to-heart with our freelance writer selves. Richardson offers 12 strategies for creating new habits that nourish us, putting an end to habits and patterns that are really acts of self-betrayal, self-violation, and self-neglect.
Have You Discovered Your Own Optimal Rhythm and Routine?
Routine provides stability; rhythm fosters consistency. We churn out hundreds of words on a daily basis covering topics sometimes brand new to us. This challenge deserves a secure structure in which to thrive. What makes you feel more relaxed and sane, less overwhelmed and depleted?
Here are a few of my realizations to get you started:
- I’m a morning person. My brain will never be sharper than it is two hours after I wake and have ingested two cups of coffee. This is when I start my most challenging writing.
- I write better when the kitchen is clean. I wash the previous night’s dishes around noon, when I need a break.
- I require a daily walk in nature. This is my mid-afternoon reward for the morning’s writing and is followed by a refreshing shower. This signals to my freelancing subconscious that it should gear up for afternoon writing.
- I get over-stimulated when I take on too many articles, even if I could complete them. I choose not to overwhelm myself in this way.
- I am stressed by short deadlines and quick turnarounds and am a far less effective writer. I am very careful with how I budget my writing time.
- Forum brawls suck the energy right out of me. I decline to attend.
- I adore wine, but I can’t drink wine and write good content the next day. I hate this. It totally sucks. But fulfilling writing careers are typically not alcohol-friendly.
- I won’t leave the house for a week for fear of missing out on writing jobs and losing money. I must buy enough healthy food to last for seven days.
Draw Your Line in the “Absolutely No ” Writer’s Sand
Richardson encourages this list for things that you refuse to tolerate, actions and situations in which you feel resentful, frustrated, angry, or diminished. This list should “make you feel safe, protected, taken care of, and free to be your best self.” A few of mine include:
- I set concrete boundaries with unannounced visitors to my home. I don’t allow them.
- I never answer my phones, and only return calls if an email won’t suffice.
- I won’t take any writing job below a certain pay level, no matter how much I love the topic or the client, because my energy is limited and not commensurate with the financial reward.
- I won’t write for anyone who demeans me. I’ve never run into this client, but I know others have. I practice proactive, intuitive discernment to avoid them from the get-go.
The choices and decisions we make when crafting our writing careers should honor and reflect our true natures, regardless of whom we disappoint or piss off. These discoveries are springboards to help us feel more nurtured, confident, balanced, and creative! This is how we produce our best work for others while simultaneously contributing our greatest gifts and talents.
As poet David Whyte reminds us:
“anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive
is too small for you.”
Writer Bio: Laura W vows to get to the grocery store today because it’s been seven days and she’s sick to death of canned soup.