How to Be Kind to Yourself When You Write
Waiting in line to pay at a local book store, I saw an announcement for a workshop on self love. Hmmm, I thought. Loving yourself as a writer is one of the keys to being successful. And by successful, I mean a writer who allows herself to write. Not just once in a while when inspiration strikes. Or when you have several free hours. Or when you have an assignment due. By successful I mean a writer who wants to write, feels better when she writes, and allows herself to create a regular and reliable writing practice.
The poster I was looking at included an image of somebody drawing a heart on a steamed-up window. The next step would be for that person to write, “I love me” on the heart. This makes a great deal of sense. How often do any of us tell ourselves that we like/love ourselves. Approve of what we are doing? Support who we are?
How can we as writers do the same for ourselves? How can we show ourselves that what we are doing is good and important and necessary? How can we give ourselves gold stars for sitting down to write four or more times a week? Or pat ourselves on the back for writing?
One way to give ourselves this support is to schedule our writing. Instead of simply promising ourselves that we’re going to write, we should take out our phones or our weekly planners and write or type in the word write at a particular time several days of the week. Your writing time doesn’t have to be long. But it has to be consistent. When we do this, we no longer make empty promise after empty promise to ourselves. Nor do we put write on our the endless to-do lists we create each week, making writing feel like one more chore to get done.
Instead, when we schedule writing time, we no longer sandwich writing in between a whole list of other appointments. And this means we are much more likely to write. Also, it means that once we have written, we are likely to feel that we have accomplished something.
Another way to support our writing self is to create a pleasing writing space. If you write at home, at a desk in your office or bedroom, try to clear away any piles of clerical work waiting for you. Sitting down to write surrounded by piles of bills to be paid or correspondence to be answered, makes writing feel burdensome—just like the bills and the letters to be written. A nice tidy desk is much more inviting and writing conducive.
You can also find a photo or picture, or a piece of pottery to decorate your desk or writing area. Even if it’s just a corner of a room, adding a deeply personal touch invites you to sit down and put words on the page.
I’ve also suggested to some of my clients that they buy flowers once a week to beautiful the space where they write. Flowers offer a two-fold benefit. Buying them is an act self-approval. And they enhance your writing space as well.
I’m sure some of you have discovered other ways to reward yourselves for writing. Perhaps your reward is listening to music you love. Or allowing yourselves to open your email. Or listen to your favorite podcast. Whatever your reward may be, and whatever ways you discover to make your writing time more pleasurable, I guarantee that you will soon find it much easier to sit down and put words on the page.