Creation and Self-care

With the large push I undertook to get Betrayed ready for Pitch Wars, as well several trips for work, a funeral, and getting kids back to school, I have been struggling to get into the swing writing. And in my writing group, I was definitely not the only one — we have  several all on the very limits of time and effort trying to balance artistic creation and just getting through the day.

When we met for our monthly meeting last night, one of them asked me how my exercise regime was going in a perfectly timed moment of “keeping me honest”. And I had to admit that in the last two weeks it’s been terrible. I haven’t been making it to the gym and haven’t been taking care of my body the way I needed to. So, I re-committed to my friends that I’d get back in the groove for both exercise and writing.

This morning I hit the stationary cycle at the gym and this post gets me back on the writing train.

But it got me thinking about how I try to balance my self-care with all the other things I have to do.

Pretty much my whole life, working out has taken a back seat to something else. Sometimes, that thing was a “still good for me, but isn’t exercise”, but often it was just blowing off steam or wasting time. Other types of self-care have been slowly getting better over time – stress management, eating well, brushing teeth, etc. – but I still find that I have to remind myself more often than not to do the things that my body, soul, spirit, and mind need in order to stay sharp and working well.

Habits are slow to build and can get upset by changes in schedule, but the longer I go, the more I find I need to have bits of self-care to keep me going. And today thankfully is one more notch in the proverbial belt of habit making.

What kinds of things do you do to take care of yourself so that you’re ready to create? Or what challenges do you find yourself struggling with in performing that self care?

Drop a line below to chat.

2 thoughts on “Creation and Self-care

  1. Funny you should ask this now since I just altered drastically my own pace in an attempt at being more ‘productive’. Long story short I’m a night owl trying to become an early bird. For the past week I’ve been waking up at 5:30AM. Here in France brunches are not mainstream, I take a real breakfast of tea with bread and jam prior to go out in the night to walk for a full hour.

    Aside from this routine, I don’t really do sports and I prefer focus on healthy cooking. You see, last August I found out about that zero waste lifestyle, which promotes avoiding packaged goods, composting and recycling. Granted it’s not exactly sports but you’d be surprised by the health benefits it can induce. At the moment I’m also contemplating the use of my garden for permaculture, albeit I’m much more skilled at video games than gardening.

    Unfortunately for me, the creation process is extremely whimsical and I get my ideas from daily events, books, series and sometimes even I don’t understand why the heck some idea hit me right in the middle on another activity. When it happens, I can’t focus on anything so I must jot it down my notebook. This can prove very problematic, especially if some client is around (I’m an auto-entrepreneur so I don’t have any boss). After that the only way for me to reuse an idea is to remember the feeling I had back then, which can be very tricky with my poor memory.

    Because the fleshing out requires my memory, it’s a very difficult part of the writing process for me and I absolutely need to be shut from outside stimuli to flesh out the idea. Believe me, if you step in my place when I’m in the middle of this process, you’d better run (fast).

    Another challenge I encounter right after the fleshing out part is the actual job of any writer. Is that idea relevant to the plot, the characters, the book itself? Why? Can I put it in? How much will need to be overwritten? You can have many ideas, in the end you know less than 10% will really make the cut.

    At any rate, I’m pretty sure no schedule is ever set in stone and sometimes one should keep an open mind to stay resourceful enough in order to implement the needed changes to reach their objectives. I reckon, it is much harder with a full-time job and a family to take care of. To some extent, this Cornelian choice makes you a miniature hero ^_^ .

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    1. My respect on trying to shift to be more of a morning person. As a self avowed night owl, I feel your pain so much. Being so much of a night owl is why I’ve tried to push exercise to be my early morning activity (6am) because all it requires me to do is show up and move something. I don’t have to think, reason, or create.

      I am also sports-less for the most part. The closest I can get is swimming and even then I do it because I like the water. So exercise for me takes the form of stationary bike/row machine for cardio days and weight lifting for the other. Food and nutrition have been pretty stable over the years, so I just need the moving around part, and that habit is slowly forming. Gardening (even though it is my namesake activity – Gardner) is completely out for me here. Too hot for too little reward. 😉

      A writer’s notebook (or app in my case) is an absolute MUST. I couldn’t survive without a way to capture thoughts and ideas. Something I’ve played with recently is recording myself talk through an idea I’ve had. Doesn’t always help, but it is another way to grab that idea quickly.

      As for the schedule, I’m surprised by how much MORE flexible I can be with my schedule the more my habits take hold. I always thought it would be the other way around – the more habitual you become, the more tied you are to doing things the same way all the time. But in reality, I’ve found I’m more resilient to changes in my schedule because I don’t have to think about those habitual things. They will get done because I’ve got the habit to do them which frees my energies up to adapt to the new thing being thrown at me. I don’t know if it works that way for everyone, but it’s been supremely helpful for me. Writing definitely falls into that category for me – my trigger is sit down at computer and open Scrivener and then the creative part of the brain takes over because of that habit that NaNoWriMo has helped to build. It’s not perfect and I often have to go back and revise, but getting it out of my brain and into the real world is the hard part for me.

      We should check back in again later to see how the various changes are sticking. Hopefully you’re still getting enough sleep even with that early rise time.

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