Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Three Stages of Writing Self Care

by Sarah Sally Hamer @SarahSallyHamer

Self-care, no matter what the situation, is an important and necessary part of our life, but writers often seem particularly vulnerable to not taking care of ourselves. All too often in this crazy world, we don’t pay enough attention to the things that keep us healthy and happy. 

Here are the three stages and tips to help us cope.

1. Physical care
This part is both the easiest and the most neglected. We grab time away from our busy life and forget our body's health.

Create a writing space in a healthy environment. Sit in a good chair. Mind your posture. Get up and walk around on a regular basis. Find an exercise/stretching program that fits you. Drink lots of water (and, no, coffee is NOT considered water in most circles!), and eat regularly. Listen to your body and be good to yourself. 

Another piece of this is finding the physical time to write. Our time doesn't always belong just to us when we have other considerations—family, friends, a "real" job, etc. So, we have to make time for ourselves to do the things we want to do.

2. Mental care
Writing can be brutal on your mental health. We often sit alone for hours, even when we're completely absorbed by our characters or our research. One of my friends calls the computer "the demon-possessed destroyer of sanity" and she's SO right! So, get away from the writing when you need to. Plan for time with family and friends. Find ways to nurture your creativity. Join and attend a writer's group—recognizing that you may have to look around to find one that feeds your mental health. (I've been in several which were not.) Schedule some fun in your life!

3. Spiritual care
Often we pay little attention to this side of our life and forget that it's probably the most important. In reality, our spiritual side—the "internal motivation" of Goal, Motivation, Conflict—is the reason we do everything in our lives. What drives you to write? Why are you so compelled when writing can suck? My writing mentor from my early days told me more than once that "we all dress up our baby and then someone tells us it's ugly". Writing comes from the heart and we use our life blood to make it happen. Then we put it out there in the "real" world and someone tears it to ribbons. It can be soul-crushing.

Sometimes people, even the ones we love, will try to discourage us from writing. It could be a spouse or kids who want attention. It could be a critic, whether a professional one or not, who "likes your commas"—I got told that once by a judge in a contest! She hated everything else and it almost broke me. It could be a one-star review that says they would have given you no stars at all if that had been available. Regardless, we have the choice as to how we handle criticism. Don't let it get you down.

Bottom line, and the best advice I can give, have a sit-down with yourself and decide why you write. Figure out why it's important to you and why you can't NOT write. There are as many reasons to write as there are writers. Do you know yours?

Then, I suggest you come up with a plan. Even if you're not someone who calendars everything, you can still come up with some general guidelines. But, please!, put writing and creative time into your schedule. That too is a huge part of your physical, mental, and spiritual health. 

What do you do to feed your creativity? 


Sarah (Sally) Hamer, B.S., MLA, is a lover of books, a teacher of writers, and a believer in a good story. Most of all, she is eternally fascinated by people and how they 'tick'. She’s passionate about helping people tell their own stories and has won awards at both local and national levels, including two Golden Heart finals.

A teacher of memoir, beginning and advanced creative fiction writing, and screenwriting at Louisiana State University in Shreveport for over twenty years, she also teaches online for Margie Lawson at WWW.MARGIELAWSON.COM. Sally is a free-lance editor and book coach, with many of her students and clients becoming successful, award-winning authors. You can find her at HAMERSE@BELLSOUTH.NET or WWW.SALLYHAMER.BLOGSPOT.COM

Featured Image: Photo by Sixteen Miles Out on Unsplash


  1. Thank you for these pointers.

  2. You’re welcome! Hope they help you to write long and prosper!

  3. I enjoy observing our grandchildren. They always inspire my creativity. :-)