6 Ways to Take Care of Yourself While Writing18:59
While it may not look like it from the outside, writing is a physically and mentally tiring occupation. Spending hours staring at a screen, typing away madly, controlling a bunch of headstrong characters while simultaneously creating a universe out of nothing but chocolate and determination, is exhausting stuff. But, in the midst of all this, it’s important to remember to take care of ourselves. Taking a few minutes to look after our needs can not only keep us feeling good, but also result in better writing all round. So here are six things you can try to make sure that you’re looking after yourself.
Keep a drink handy: Keeping a cup of tea, or a bottle of water close by while writing makes it easier to keep from getting dehydrated during a long writing session. It also means you don’t have to keep getting up to find a drink when you do get thirsty, thereby not breaking your concentration up so much when you get in the zone.
Get up and move: It doesn’t have to be much, but making sure that you get up and move occasionally allows your body to stretch and relax, and gives your mind a chance to take a quick break as well. It gets the blood moving again lets your feverish mind settle a bit so it can concentrate better, and makes it easier to write more without ending up too sore or mentally exhausted.
Stretch your hands: As a long time sufferer of recurring RSI, I cannot stress the important of looking after your hands enough. There are few things worse than trying to type with wrists that scream in pain. Take regular breaks and stretch your hands, give them a chance to relax and recover. A quick Google search will find any number of simple exercises to stretch your muscles and reduce your chances of injury.
Sit in a comfortable position: Find a position that is comfortable for you to sit in for long periods of time. It shouldn’t put too much strain on your back, neck, or hands, as these are prone to getting very tired very quickly. You’ll find it easier to write for long stretches, and won’t get up feeling quite so sore.
Make sure you have enough light: Your eyes are already working hard by staring at a glaring computer screen. Sitting in a darkened room only makes it more difficult for them to do their job. Reduce eyestrain and the chance of developing a headache by making sure you’ve got plenty of light around you while you’re working.
Allow yourself to stop: Sometimes, it can be difficult to know when you’ve done enough writing. It’s easy to keep trying to push yourself to write just a little bit more, even though you’re physically and mentally exhausted. If you’re tired like this, just stop. It’s better, and more productive to work when you’ve had a rest than to keep pushing yourself on when you’re tired.
These are just some of the things I do to make sure I look after myself while I’m writing, especially during NaNoWriMo. What else would you add to this list? Anything here you disagree with? Anything you’ll be trying in the future?