The October meeting was all about how to stay healthy as a writer – both physically and spiritually.
To help feed and care for our muses, creativity coach, Jill Badonsky, author of The Muse Is In, spoke to us about how to knock down creative blocks and maintain a healthy dose of inspiration at all times. Creative blocks are called antagonists, and the first step to overcoming them, Jill says, is to accept them. Some common antagonists are:
- Procrastination. This is a big one for writers, especially in the age of the ubiquitous Internet connection. As creatives, we’re more prone to getting distracted by Internet “research” than the average person, and if we’re sitting down in front of our computers to write all the time, the temptation is truly great. How to overcome it? One option is to create “Parallel Universe” time, where you check in with a creative partner before and after a writing session. By establishing accountability with another person, you are more likely to want to get your work done. (Psst… we’ve got a “Parallel Universe” going on in the RWASD Sprinters Facebook group! If you’re a chapter member and want in, let us know!)
- Perfectionism. Expectations are one of the biggest blocks to creativity. If you think what you’re writing isn’t good enough, your motivation to write can disappear. How to overcome it? Give yourself permission to “write crap.” Sometimes, Jill says, if you write crap and put it away, when you come back to it later, it might not be as crappy as you thought it was when you wrote it. It could’ve just been the perfectionism whispering in your ear.
- Comparison. It’s so easy to look at what other writers are accomplishing and say, “I’m not as good as them, and I never will be.” When other people are hitting bestseller lists and you’re still struggling with rejections, it can paralyze your efforts, and make you say, “Why bother?” How to overcome it? Look at what successful people are doing and ask yourself, “What can I learn from them?” You might find yourself being inspired instead of envious.
Ultimately, the goal is to rewire your brain to think positively. Instead of saying, “I have to write X words,” or “I should write this next chapter,” tell yourself, “I get to write today!” By viewing it as a privilege as opposed to an obligation, you change the story you tell yourself about your writing. You make it fun again.
Another way to change the story in your head is to keep a “Reminder Journal.” According to Jill, it’s an informal collection of thoughts, ideas, and quotes that remind you of why you like to write, and why you started writing in the first place. You can include compliments you’ve received on your writing, positive memories and emotions associated with your writing, tips and tricks that work for your creativity, and good reviews. Every once in a while, take it out and look it over. By doing so, you’ll replace the negative voices in your head with positive ones.
The creative process, Jill says, is a romance. When you first fall in love with writing, you become infatuated, just like you do when you fall in love with a person. And like any romance, enthusiasm can wane over time. You need to find a way to remember the initial sparks of excitement in order to stoke the fires of creativity and maintain your enthusiasm over the course of your career.
In the afternoon, our own Linda Thomas-Sundstrom spoke to us about caring for our bodies. While we know Linda as a prolific author of twenty-eight romance novels, she’s also a fitness professional who teaches on the faculty of two colleges in the Health, Nutrition, and Exercise Science departments.
Without our physical health, we wouldn’t be able to write at all, so one of the most important things we can do for our writing careers is to ensure we’re finding ways to include fitness in our daily lives. Linda provided us with some tips and tricks for incorporating movement into our normally sedentary schedules.
At a minimum, you should be getting at least twenty minutes of exercise every single day, at your optimal training heart rate. Which means more than a leisurely stroll. If your heartbeat isn’t speeding up, then you’re not getting a good workout. A brisk, steady walk would suffice, though anything that gets your heart rate up would work – jogging, running, or even just dancing around the room.
To avoid long-term damage to your health caused by extended periods of sitting, Linda says it’s crucial to get up from your chair every thirty minutes. Sitting down slows your metabolism and encourages a stooped posture. To combat the effects of slouching over your keyboard, Linda suggests keeping a resistance band next to your computer (I’ve got mine next to me now!). Set a timer for thirty minutes; when it goes off, stand up, walk around, and perform a few arm and shoulder stretches using the band. Just this simple movement, performed consistently, will make a world of difference in your health and posture.
Challenge your body to make a change, Linda says, and make conscious decisions to get fit. And if you feel your creativity lagging, go for a walk. You’ll feel more energized and creative after you get some exercise – a flexible body equals a flexible mind.
As always, our group shared their Good News for the month:
- Tessa McFionn’s sci-fi series got picked up by an editor.
- Cynthia Diamond’s Wyrd Love Books 1-3 boxed set is coming out next week.
- Bob Richard published Angel’s Eyes.
- Linda Seed published Fire and Glass, the fourth book in a series. Also, Moonstone Beach was Barnes and Noble’s Free Friday pick.
- Jeanne Dickson won a number of contests. Eire Ever After placed 3rd in the Sheila and the TARA, and Second Chance Ranch was a semifinalist in the Genesis Contest, and a finalist in Pages From the Heart.
- Linda Thomas-Sundstrom will release A Wicked Halloween boxed set in October 2016.
Next month is our fantabulous annual Literacy Event! Registration opens on November 1st. Sign up early, because this event usually sells out quickly. This year, we’re featuring New York Times bestselling author Julie Kagawa and her agent, Laurie McLean. There’ll be giveaways, pitches, and free books to the first fifty registrants. See you then!