Writing is my lifeline. As I’ve posted before, it’s an essential part of my self-care. But I am not, by any means, a full-time writer. Nor would I ever want to be. I work 30 hours a week in family ministry, something I’m incredibly passionate about. And then I’m a mom to a very spunky three year old daughter. She generates a lot of laundry and a lot of mess, so there’s a lot of that to stay on top of. And my marriage and my friendships, many of them long distance, are both also huge priorities. So writing is something that tends to fall to the wayside.
Prioritising my health means a lot of different things when I have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Chiari Malformation, possible MCAS, and possible POTS (basically, my body just really doesn’t like to work like it theoretically should). But one big thing it means for me is that self-care is so essential.
“Self-care” is a big buzzword in a lot of circles right now, including three of the main circles I inhabit: the chronic illness community, the ministry community, and the young mama community. Since my goal for 2017 is wellness, even when my health is up in the air, I know I need to prioritise taking care of myself, and knowing the best ways for me to do so. And for me, writing, whether on my blog or in my novels, is one of the biggest ways.
I’m going to be writing a lot about the link between self-care and wellness over the next few weeks. My next post will be on pushing through as a kind of self-care. And over the next few weeks, I’m going to start a series about slowing down as a secret to wellness.
When I slowed down, I realised how much I missed writing, and how truly essential it was to my self-care. And now that I’ve found a better rhythm for life and wellness and am beginning to add things back in, I know I need to keep writing in the mix. So here are the six biggest ways I find time to write in the midst of a full life.
1. Remember the why. Why do you write? If you keep the perspective of why it’s so important, it’s much easier to stick to it. I write because I know it’s essential for my mental health, which in turn improves my physical health. I also do it because it helps me escape from myself and my racing mind for a while, and because it helps me use my voice in a unique way.
2. Set big goals. Having something specific to reach for makes it so much easier to prioritise something. My big goal is to grow my blog following to 1,000 readers, and to publish my completed novel, or at least have an agent (if I decide to go that route) by the end of 2017.
3. Set little goals. When a goal is super big and super long term, it can seem daunting. So I break it up into little goals to make me positive and motivated. Right now, my little goal is to have a regular blog posting schedule of three times a week (MWF) by the end of February. In March, I’ll come up with a new little goal.
4. Squeeze it in. Much of my novel was written in the Notes file on my phone (which isn’t even that great of a phone; my brother, a technology geek, calls it a potato).
5. Tell a friend(s). Telling a friend your goals, and why you’re doing them, keeps you motivated and gives you accountability. My support system knows I write and is very invested in my writing, which makes me want to kep writing, even when it’s hard and I feel sick and like I can’t.
6. Give yourself grace. The point of making goals isn’t to find something els to be guilty about–I’m already guilty enough as someone who struggles with chronic illness and feeling like she sometimes doesn’t do enough. Writing is supposed to be enjoyable. When it stops feeling that way, I give myself grace to not write for the day. I can always write again tomorrow.
In conclusion, when something is “just a hobby,” and isn’t a non-negotiable responsibility of life, like work, parenting, and the essential parts of managing an illness, it can often get abandoned. However, I have realised that writing is way too important to my overall wellness, especially with chronic illnesses, for me to not do it on a regular basis. So, with these tips in place, I can better write, and live, my way to my 2017 goal of wellness.