As writers, we are very driven people. Passionate. Some may say obsessive.
I've heard a lot of writers describe the writing process as "writing because I have to" or "the story idea has to come out or it drives me crazy."
We write for hours whenever we can, but most of us also have day jobs. And families. And chores.
How do we deal with all of the passion but at the same time balance it with the stresses of every day living?
I'm currently trying to figure that out.
I've been sick for the past few weeks, and it just got worse last week. I've been having stomach pains, nausea, fatigue, and finally dragged myself to the doctor. The diagnoses? I'm way too stressed out, and it's making me ill. The solution? A acid reducer the size of a hockey puck daily, and learning to relax.
Easier said than done, right? ;) I think every writer deals with the same difficulty in leading a balanced life.
However, an interesting thing happened to me at that appointment. When the doctor was frowning over her clipboard at me and telling me that I seriously need to take a chill pill, I felt a weird calm creeping over me. Okay, well, first I felt a wee bit embarrassed, because heh, I'm giving myself an ulcer (oops), but then I felt calm.
Before, every time I thought "I need to take a night off from writing to recover from my day" or "I should exercise/read for a while/sit quietly and drink tea" I immediately felt guilty. Guilty that I'm not as dedicated as other writers because I already write less often than they do. Guilty that I wasn't getting my novel done more quickly. Guilty that I was being "lazy" if I wanted to relax for a little while. Then, when I finally did crash, I'd just lie in front of the TV like I was in a coma. There was no balance. And I felt like crap.
The doctor telling me I needed to relax was as powerful as a prescription for anti-guilt pills. In that moment, I gave myself permission to relax.
Over the past few days, I've been trying to take a half hour to an hour each day to be quiet and spend some time for myself, drinking tea and reading, reading my Bible, or taking a hot bath. Afterwards, I can write or do chores or whatever, but I have the freedom to spend time taking care of myself.
I also try to look at one beautiful thing a day, eat slowly, and walk slowly. Did you guys know that the leaves are changing right now? :) Have you noticed how absolutely gorgeous that is? I have. I realize that I missed paying attention to these things.
I wanted to write about my experience today, because I'm sure I'm not alone. Do you guys give yourselves permission to relax? Do you balance your time by allowing yourself some room to be still and recharge?
Or do you need to take a look at your schedule today and carve out a half hour for a bubble bath or a walk outside?
Do you take care of yourselves?
How can we be the best artists we can be if we don't take the time to be still once in a while?