If you haven’t read Elizabeth Gilbert’s book “Big Magic”, this is your sign to do so. It’s brilliant. And it’s also very happiness-inducing and creativity-sparking, especially for writers.
One concept in particular stuck with me: Gilbert describes the idea that creative ideas (in this case, story ideas) come to you and ask to be created – if you listen. And you can choose to answer the call and write them, but if you don’t, if you take too long to respond, the idea retreats and find another outlet.
Exciting, isn’t it? I love the concept of being visited by ideas waiting to be born. And I like the thought that if I don’t listen or if I don’t grasp it, it will float away again.
Today, remember to listen for the sound of the fluttering wings of ideas. And for the love of writing, say yes if a great idea lands on your shoulder!
As a writer (and as a person generally) it can be really easy to just whip through our days, not really taking care of ourselves because we have so much other stuff we have to do. However, this leads to burnout which is probably the most unproductive state you can be in. So to make sure you’re at your most productive, you actually need to take time out to relax. To keep yourself sane and happy, here’s 25 things that you can do to take good care of yourself:
- Have a cup of coffee or tea and really savour it
- Read a book or magazine
- Do a completely nutty writing exercise and don’t worry about how good it is
- Have a one-person dance party
- Call a friend/your mom
- Take a long (or short) slow walk and just breathe
- Cook something delicious for yourself
- Drink a bottle of wine with a good friend and great conversation
- Watch a movie
- Turn your favourite song all the way up and sing along
- Take a warm bath/shower and really luxuriate in it
- Buy yourself flowers (and maybe chocolate)
- Go to a coffee shop and people watch
- Get started on that creative project you have wanted to do
- Read aloud to your kids/roomie/pet
- Tidy your room in a non-stressed way
- Round up and throw out things you’re not using, create some space in your life
- Redecorate something – perhaps spruce up your writing space to make it nicer or just make your bed
- Go out and get some exercise, in whatever form you actually like. This can be hiking, walking, dancing, fencing, whatever – just move!
- Do a mani/pedi on yourself and maybe take a foot bath
- Treat yourself to something you have been wanting for a long time (that you can afford!) and really savour the buying experience – get it gift wrapped if possible, then open it reverently at home J
- Research a dream of yours – Google a bit on that trip to Mexico or how to get a Visa to New Zealand or how to become a Sommelier… You’ll never know what that seed can grow into.
- Just relax! Take a nap or do one of these things, or something completely different. If mountainbiking relaxes you, fine, go do that. If the most relaxing thing you can think of is making client calls, maybe try to stretch your comfort zone a bit to actually get some rest. Whatever you do, take care of yourself!
The beauty of letting it go… for now
If you’ve ever tried to make yourself do something and not been able to actually get it done, let me ask you: what do you usually do about it? Do you procrastinate and procrastinate all day without getting it done? Do you go to bed telling yourself that you’ll do it tomorrow?
If you do, I have a suggestion for you: Let it go.
I know it might seem counter-intuitive, but stay with me for a moment.
If you didn’t get it done today (or yesterday, or the day before that) it probably wasn’t incredibly urgent. And if it’s not incredibly urgent, it will probably be okay if you don’t do it tomorrow.
So stop and think for a moment: is it something that is incredibly important to you and that can’t be postponed?
If not, I’d suggest that you let it go, at least for now. Try it and see if you don’t feel an incredible sense of relief when you do.
And remember, you can let it go for now and come back to it later – if you give up working on your novel for now, it doesn’t mean that you can’t return to it tomorrow if you feel like it. You simply have to let go of the high expectations and the white-knuckling and let it be for a while.
And maybe go and listen to “Let it Go”. It’s a great song.
Patience can be so hard. We want results, we want them now, we want them yesterday, and they better be huge. The trouble is, especially when writing, sometimes you’ve gotta give it some time. Time to simmer a bit and become more. To grow organically.
Try to be patient with your stories. Give them time and room to breathe. And follow your gut; when the time is right, don’t hesitate: Write.
Life can feel a little dull sometimes. Especially if, like me, you’ve had a stressful week and feel like you should spend your sunny Saturday inside, catching up on chores.
Today, maybe, choose not to. Choose to wonder instead. Choose to wander.
I’ve just started reading “Wonderbook” by Jeff Vandermeer and it is wonderful (pun intended) it is meant for writers but I believe anyone could benefit from the inspiration it brings. Through illustrations and thoughts the book makes you wonder at inspiration and stories in a way that makes my mind whirr in the best possible way.
So instead of getting my room tidied up and my laundry done, I chose to go for a wander down by the river. I wrote a bit, I watched the houseboats going through the lock and I saw the first butterfly of the year. And I remembered what it was like to wonder at everything, and how much of an adventure an ordinary day can become when you do.
So today, I have two challenges for you: Get a hold of a copy of “Wonderbook” and go somewhere that makes you wonder.
I was on the bus on the way home and I was tired. I was scrolling through Instagram on my phone when I saw the sunset out of the corner of my eye, just as the bus turned a corner. The sunset was blocked from view by a building. Sad that I’d missed it, I looked back at my phone. A moment later, the bus turned another corner and I got to see the sunrise after all. It was beautiful.
Sometimes, life does give you second chances. Sometimes you have to find them for yourself. But however your second chance comes, make sure to make full use of it. It could be your last chance.
I was walking home from a meeting the other day, in the rain, and at first it felt shitty. My feet were getting wet, it was windy and cold. But then I walked past a beautiful, flowering magnolia tree.
And I stopped to look at it. And I photographed it. And I put my umbrella down and enjoyed the rain on my face.
And it made my day so much better.
So, today, remember to stop and enjoy something that you enjoy – whether it be flowers, an old birthday card or something completely different.