Writers have a long history of not being heath-conscious folk. A total lack of attention to physical, mental, and spiritual well-being has somehow become tragically cliched to the life of a “real artist.” Misery begets only misery. I’ve produced higher-quality material at a steadily-productive rate since shifting my focus to being healthy and happy. Over the last twelve months I’ve found 5 healthy habits for writers that prove useful.
- Get Outside & Move Around: I have found exercise to be a cathartic as well as emotionally balancing practice. You don’t have to go to the gym or spend money on classes. There are countless stories of writers who get their best ideas on a long walk. Sunlight gives us vitamin D. Vitamin D aids in the battle against depression. If stress seems intolerable, I promise you’ll feel better after half an hour of exercise.
- Stay Away from Drugs & Alcohol: Moderate use of legal substances is not what I’m talking about. As an addict and alcoholic, I do not have the ability to partake with any semblance of control. If you can, disregard this step. Be wary of using words like, “I need,” or, “I have to have,” when discussing chemical use in your creative process. No matter how bad you think your writer’s block is, addiction makes it far worse.
- Create & Maintain a Schedule: We artists balk at the notion of being restricted by a schedule. Without one I waste time trying to figure out what to do next. I began keeping a schedule in September of 2018, now (just eight months later) I’ve gotten more done than in the last five years combined. Few things feel as satisfying as scratching off an item on your To-Do List. (Don’t be afraid to pencil in a nap every now-and-again.)
- Rediscover the Bliss of Books: I stopped reading because I got wrapped up in the business of writing. After my life imploded last August, the first thing I did was read the Bible. Good books brought me back to sanity. Now I read voraciously. Books are my constant vacation. I created a book club with close friends. I urge you to do the same. Kind company with Tolstoy between you is therapeutic.
- Find a Higher Power: I grew up enjoying church every Sunday. In my mid-twenties I fell out of the practice. In my early-forties I joined a new church because I realized the vacuum my life suffered in was due to the lack of a soulful home. Faith has given me more drive, strength, focus, and sense of forgiveness than anything tangible. Prayer and scripture are a part of my daily schedule. All other suggestions in my 5 healthy habits for writers are built upon this one.
These are ideas that help increase my level of chill in a mad world. I see a therapist to aid the cleansing practice of writing. I meet with my priest once or twice a month to talk about jazz and check my interpretation of scripture. Every day I spend time with genuine people, and waste no time with toxic individuals. The last suggestion I have is to clean up those things that make you the most uncomfortable. I’ll clarify these end notes soon, but please follow these links in the meantime. There are far more than 5 healthy habits for writers, but I pray that these find a way to help you.