Care and Feeding of the Writer's Soul
Finally, you completed the third rewrite of your manuscript. Two days ago, you e-mailed the changes to your editor. The phone rings. Still,
your editor demands more rewrites. Exhausted, all you want to do is sleep. Your head begins to ache and you're losing patience. How can you relieve
the stress and frustration? Whether you are a published writer or just beginning your career,
taking care of your emotional and physical health is paramount.
Include these steps in your daily life to nurture the writer’s soul:
1. Positive Affirmations
“My writing is vital; my books will bring enjoyment to children.”
Ongoing affirmations allow you to recognize your accomplishments and build confidence in your ability to cope with rejection letters. Also create Self-Esteem Lists, Self-Appreciation Lists, Healing and Assistance Lists, with such suggestions as “bubble baths, massages, soothing music.”
Journaling relieves stress, depression, loneliness,
anger; it is a safe, inexpensive activity. You need not share your writing with anyone. It’s helpful to include visual imagery in your writing to maintain physical and mental health. Describing the senses of smell, hearing, taste, sight and touch also helps your prose come alive. Examples: bright
orange sun, taste of chocolate cake, smell of freshly cut grass, the softness of velvet, the sound of birds. Write dialogue between yourself and the publishing companies that rejected our manuscript. Susan Zimmerman, author of Writing To Heal The Soul, suggests, “Write freely and truthfully; don’t edit or judge yourself.”
Taking walks will clear your mind and revitalize your body. Being cooped up with your computer or notebook for many hours may drain your energy. Choose an aerobic activity that you enjoy (bicycle riding, ice skating). Plan to exercise about 30 minutes a day. Julia Cameron, author of
The Artist’s Way, suggests that walking can help keep you inspired and clear away writer's block.
4. Healing Arts and Meditation
Cameron says that meditation helps us realize our
inner power as creative people. She suggests writing “morning pages” as a form of meditation. These pages “map our own interior,” Cameron writes. “Without them, our dreams may remain terra incognito.” To prepare yourself for writing, don’t forget to do deep breathing exercises. Relaxation techniques, such as the ancient Chinese art of tai
chi, are also helpful.
5. Writing Groups
Workshopping your manuscripts helps improve your writing. It also brings you closer to completing your book. Although writing is a solitary task, you won’t know if you’re reaching your goals without sharing your work with other
writers. Some groups may require you to sign up to read during a meeting. That way, you have a contract with yourself to edit or finish that manuscript. Also, what you plan to write
doesn’t always translate from your mind onto the page. Workshop members will suggest changes and clarifications for your manuscript. Sharing and networking with other writers will keep you inspired.
6. Writing Classes and Workshops
Whether you’re a published writer or just starting
out, continue to take classes. Try writing in another category or genre. If you write children’s stories, try young adult or poetry. We can always learn something new and challenge our writing skills. Actors take classes to keep their craft
honed and innovative; why not writers?
7. Have Fun!
Take art, acting, dance, exercise, and music classes. Do something that you have always dreamed about, but never had the courage to try. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Live, laugh, and enjoy!
1. Abercrombie, Barbara. Writing Out the Storm: Reading and Writing Your Way Through Serious Illness or Injury. New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 2002.
2. Cameron, Julia. The Artist’s Way. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher Inc., 1992.
3. Cameron, Julia, The Vein of Gold. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher Inc., 1996.
4. Canfield, Jack and Mark Victor Hansen. Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul. Deerfield Beach, Fla.: Health Communications, Inc., 2000.
5. Zimmerman, Susan. Writing To Heal the Soul. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2002.