It’s an overwhelming business, you know.
If you ask someone who doesn’t write, their image of a writer at work, would be someone surrounded by books, a computer or paper to hand, tapping on a keyboard, or scribbling ideas down furiously.
Or gazing out of the window at a picturesque writers retread, pencil at the ready for any ispiration that might hit.
Or that other chestnut, the writer taking up a table at the local coffee shop, empty cups strewn across said table, and laptop set up, ready for that literary greatness to fill the screen.
That’s exactly how all those books out there came to fruition.
A few hours or days to write or type, and a perfect story is created, ready for publication.
The writing journey, along with the subsequent editing process, is an arduous one. And though you may spend a lot of it on your bottom, you use up your mental energy more than you realise.
When I decided to really ramp up the writing of my first draft, I used the month of August in 2017 and created my own mini #RiNoWriMo, as November and #NaNo WriMo is beyond me, what with being a teacher in my other life.
So August, that sacred month for teachers, where you get time off, was sacrificed for my writing.
And write, I did!
But I didn’t know how much writing 2,500+ words a day would take out of me.
I started back to school in September an emotional wreck. Not the best way to start the academic year, I’ll have you know. Although pushing myself to write hit word count goals, it zapped me of any energy, and the ability to function emotionally for a few weeks. Writing had become too much.
And the draft still wasn’t finished. I wondered whether this writing malarkey was really for me?
So when I decided that this August, two years on, would be my month for editing, I had to keep my emotional wellbeing in mind too.
#RiNoEdMo has nearly come to a close, and I have worked my pudgy behind off (not literally, because if I had, that would be wonderful, but I digress…) to go through this manuscript with a fine tooth comb. It took me 10 days to finish the first of my ‘final’ edits.
Once it was off to beta readers, I sat back with a light heart, and one heck of a headache.
That mental tiredness had kicked in. It had officially become too much.
So, I scheduled time for me, time with my children and family, time to read.
And, yes, I have revisited my draft, as and when feedback drips in, tweaking easy bits, but I have put it on the back burner so I can get back into my other life mindset. (I hate to call it real life, because writing is part of my real life too, it’s just my alter-life… By day wife, mother and teacher. By night writer and sleeper.)
One week until school beckons to me. One week to get some of that r’n’r.
One week to maybe add a few more tweaks Stop it woman, you are meant to be resting!
I have compiled a list of things I do to help me get that ‘me’ time as well as being as productive as possible, within a short timespan.
- Take regular breaks and hydrate.
- Give yourself a time limit for how long you will spend on your manuscript every day.
- Treat yourself when you reach a goal. A bubble bath, a manicure, a drink…
- If your head hurts, listen to it, and step away for a while.
- Always have a good book handy to read as a reward.
- Plan a day out.
- Change the scenery around you – write in the garden one day, on your bed on another, take your laptop for a trip to a different place. It’s as refreshing as a break.
All little things, but they do help to keep your wellbeing from sinking, as you swim through the ocean of Getting That Book Out There.
Do you have any other advice for keeping sane while writing and editing?