Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Self-Care for Writers and Ways to Connect During COVID


This year, 2020, I've noticed a certain trend in thinking in my fellow writers, creatives, family members, friends, and myself. We are, as a society, struggling to find our feet in the midst of COVID and all that's going on in the world. Many feel blocked or burned out. We are grieving life as it used to be. We are struggling to connect with each other. We are struggling to connect with our own creativity.

We need self-care and connection like we've never needed it before.

So, where do we start?

I can't say I'm an expert, but I think we start with rest.

But what is rest? 
Rest can mean sleeping, taking our days slow, paring down our to-do lists, reading that stack of books by our bed, watching movies, doing something creative that doesn't have anything to do with our "career" and has more to do with filling our creative well. Sometimes, rest includes daydreaming. Sometimes, it includes quiet, and sometimes, it includes loud music. It all depends on the person.

Exercise may seem like the opposite of rest, but in fact, I think it is a type of rest. 
Exercise, especially something like walking, bicycling, hiking, rowing, or anything with repetitive, continuous movement can give us space and rhythm without having to go anywhere in particular. Exercise with dance, martial arts, yoga or other activities requiring changes of movements can help us wake up and pay attention to our bodies' needs. Exercise can bring us joy (endorphins), and can help us create a rhythm to our days so we can actually sleep at night. 

Affirmations for our writing and our creative lives can motivate us. This can mean writing out and stating something like: I am a capable and creative writer. 
It's helpful to affirm that daily or sometimes several times a day. 

Another way to do this is with quotes. The quote at the top of the page is one of my favorites from Stephen King's On Writing: A Memoir of Craft. It reminds me of the joy of writing a story. I rewrite quotes in my journal and reflect on them. They help me reground myself in the reasons I write. 

There are many ways to practice self-care, so those are just a few. For more ideas for positive self-talk and self-care for writers, I recommend reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert or Keep Writing with Fey: Sparks to Defeat Writer's Block, Depression, and Burnout by Chrys Fey.

Finally, I recommend looking for ways to connect with other writers during COVID. 
While I realize the Conferences page on our website is a bit overwhelming, I am working to create an easier way to find conferences in each writers' local area. Many conferences are online now, so anyone from anywhere in the world can attend. Many of them are even free, or have cut their costs. 

You might also check out the local writers' groups in your area, or search for them online. I found two in my area, one of which is hosting free, online classes and virtual open mic nights so writers can connect with one another. I was terrified the first time I attended because I have some social anxiety, but everyone seemed to feel awkward with Zoom and finally, we all relaxed. I am attending a free class tonight, and I'm excited talk "story" with other writers. 

Many people are lonely and feeling out of sorts during COVID. Reach out and see if you can connect with someone. Say hi to a neighbor or go through a drive-through for coffee and try to cheer up the barista there. Zoom or call a family member, friend, or someone from your community you haven't seen in a while. It might brighten their day and yours. 
Example: I talked on the phone to a senior lady from my church a  few weeks ago, and it put a smile on my face for several days. We aren't best friends, but we've been chatting with each other about books for over fifteen years so we had some catch-up to do.

Look for Online Conferences HERE.
Also, if you know of conferences I don't have listed, please add them in the comments below. Thank you!


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Excellent, Tyrean! Yes, exercise can be rest as it clears your head.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

We can still connect via conferences. We're taking part in the largest one this week, Frankfurt.

Jemi Fraser said...

Excellent tips! Exercise and rest are both vital - but not something I always remember to include in my routine. I did my first virtual conference recently - didn't have to show my fave (yay!) and got a ton out of it!

Tyrean Martinson said...

Alex - yes, it does!

Diane - yes, some conferences are still up and running, while others are going virtual. Either way, the connections count.

Jemi - Sounds like you had a good conference experience! That's cool.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

I do need to read Chrys's books. I've read Stephen King's and it's awesome. One of the few books I've read in a day.

Toi Thomas said...

Great point about exercise. Rest for me has been doing little of nothing, but I've enjoyed taking my dog for daily walks too.

nashvillecats2 said...

Great post, I have found blogging among friends most nenefical although have taken a wee break.


Pat Hatt said...

Exercise can sure take your mind off things, rest in just vegging for a while works too.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Tyrean - we need to find our own ways ... but chatting with others helps, as too zoom conferences - I've avoided those, so far! But exercise and getting the fresh air is essential ... I'm taking time to gather my wits - which means clear out a lot of clutter ... things I'm not going to write about, or old brochures of places I've visited. I need to read a lot too ... so am quietly coping - but we all need ideas ... all the best - Hilary

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Great tips, Tyrean. I appreciate my zoom events, especially during these times. And I am a huge advocate of affirmations, faith, and trust.