As the weather changes here in Switzerland, universities and schools are starting again and NANOWRIMO (National Novel Writing Month) is just around the corner. It doesn’t matter if you are writing a thesis, creating a novel, working on essays and assignments for school, or working on a long report for work. Writing is hard work. And writing long pieces can feel lonely, exhausting, and even boring. I talked about ways to tackle a long writing project in a previous article, but I wanted to expand on other ways you need to look after yourself when working on a long writing project.
I have spent whole days hunched over a laptop and writing desk pumping out research and words for that all important word count. At the end of the day, my brain is totally frazzled and I have no energy to even speak. My body is stiff and cramped and sometimes a little dehydrated. After a long day of writing the first thing you might want to do is collapse in bed, but you should do the exact opposite. Move your body, in whatever way you can, for at least half an hour. The benefits of exercising are often advertised as things relating to physical health. And while this is all true, the benefits of exercising for your mind and mental health are just as important! For me, I exercise three to four times a week not just because I enjoy moving my body, but also because I notice a significant decrease in my stress levels. I sleep better, I eat better, I can think clearer, and I get less frustrated about things in general. The mental health benefits of exercise are the reason I keep hitting the pavement.
When I say ‘move’ your body. I literally mean do whatever is comfortable for you. You don’t need to run 10km or lift 100kgs. Take a walk around a park for 30mins. Meet a friend and walk around in the city. Check out some Youtube videos and workout shows (my favourite is Fitness Blender). Do yoga, stretch, run, box, walk, row. It doesn’t really matter what, the key is that you move.
Find a time for you
I know so many people who wake up at 5am to get their writing for the day done. Those people are great. Their routine works for them. I, however, am not one of these people. As I am writing this article it is 2pm. My golden hours for writing start around 2pm and finish anywhere from 5pm to 7pm. No matter what I do, nothing actually happens before or after these hours. It is, what it is.
The reality is that everyone will have a better time to write. Learn when that is and stick to it. If you know you like to write in the morning then your day could look like this:
As I said though, know what works for you. Listen to your body and try to work a schedule that will benefit your writing.
Me time is key to any long writing project. It consists of doing something completely self-indulgent. It can be anything from reading a book, catching up with friends, watching cat videos on Youtube, or taking a long bath. Whatever you are doing, remember that you need to take care of yourself and that also means taking time out of your day to make sure you do just that. When the project is going well, it can be easy to forget about me time usually because you are writing, you feel the creative flow, you are going places. Although, you will have slumps too. Trust me. It is in those times, especially, where me time can save you. So be kind to yourself.
I hope these tips will be helpful for your next writing project. What do you do to look after yourself when you are writing? As always, share the reading love.