Self-care sounds so indulgent, like it’s some sort of ethereal gift allowed only on special occasions – well, that’s what it seems to me anyway. I take care of my personal hygiene (perhaps a little too much, given my OCD for cleanliness), exercise, eat as healthily as I can and manage my responsibilities, but rarely do I spend time truly enjoying my own company.
Here’s what Google has to say about the definition of self-care:
The practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress. “expressing oneself is an essential form of self-care”
I love my family (including the animals!), I love my boyfriend, and I love my friends, so any time I can I spend soaking up their company and making the most of that ‘togetherness’ we’ve all been without for so long (although sadly, we can’t yet see all our family and friends in person). For me, this is a form of self-care, because I relish being surrounded by loved ones.
When alone, however, I am absolutely rubbish at taking breaks whilst I’m working. I get so absorbed by what I’m doing, that I just let time run away with me; then when I’ve stopped working, all I can do is plan and think about work. On the surface, this is great in terms of productivity – because I am a perfectionist, I try my best to create quality, meaningful content, so being able to get projects completed in a timely fashion is a great feeling. Unfortunately, in the long run I find myself physically and emotionally drained all.the.time.
On Monday I decided this is no longer sustainable. I had to get my backside in gear and organise myself properly if I’m to make the most of my life. I’m missing out on a heck of a lot because I’m so damn focused on earning money to keep my animals, and my everyday life, going. I am fed up of living in a constant state of anxious stress. I admit, having my new car stranded in a garage for the last week after it broke down three times within the first two days of owning it has done nothing to help my anxiety or stress levels… Though I took my first steps toward enjoying myself more by making time to enjoy riding my horses and walking my dog instead of just doing so for exercise, I spent quality time cwtched with my boyfriend as we ate great food, watched films and celebrated being together for a whole year; and I actually read a book for fun as opposed to just reading for work or studying.
Taking time to breathe in your life is not a luxury, it is vital.
Making time to nurture your mental and physical well-being is allowed.
Please, don’t ever feel guilty for wanting to make the most of time for yourself.
Self-care is different for each of us. So, here is a brilliant article by Anna Borges that might help you along the path of contentment & if you’d like further advice, you can find some here from mental health charity Mind.
Ok, so I’ve decided to write about dealing with rejection. The literary world is absolutely saturated with it, although it tends to be something we don’t prepare for.
You may already be aware that your writing will not be everyone’s cup of tea, but are you ready to be told that by a literary agent or publishing company?
Rejection is horrible, no-matter the circumstance. We wish for our writing to be loved by every reader and we want people to truly enjoy our hard work. However, the unfortunate reality is that not every reader will fall in love with our writing, let alone enjoy our efforts to entertain or educate them. But something society never tells us is that rejection is healthy. If everybody loved your writing, nobody could ever be your biggest fan. Without rejection, we aren’t given opportunity to learn and improve. Given that well-known adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, if everyone believes your writing is awesome, then why would you strive to make it even better? In such an instance, it wouldn’t be long before readers became bored of your work and seek out the next great author – you have a favourite song, though no-matter how amazing its composition is, you aren’t going to keep listening to that song on repeat when there are billions more out there just waiting to be discovered. Keeping your writing fresh is vital to achieving literary success.
Here is my process for dealing with rejection…
1.) Accept your feelings.
There’s absolutely no point trying to be stoic about it. Someone said they disliked a piece of writing you’ve poured your heart and soul into for months, if not years – you are allowed to feel crappy. It is acceptable to address your disappointment with some ice cream, or a walk, or whatever other way you deal with rejection in other areas of your life. Allow yourself time to deal with self-esteem-destroying rejection in the way you’ve found works best for you. We are all human. At the end of the day, if you try to suppress those feelings of anguish and disappointment, they will inevitably pop up later down the line, causing you to feel worse. Let it out, feel however you need to, then let it go. It is important to mention here that absolutely every writer past, present, and future has or will be forced to deal with rejection. You are not alone. Please reach out to a fellow writer if you’re finding rejection too heavy to deal with – I guarantee they will be sympathetic; and if you decide to reach out to me, I will help however I can.
2.) Always be polite and gracious.
Earth is a vast place, yet however infinite the reach of the written word, the world of writing is not. Since there are far more writers on Earth than literary agents or publishing companies, the laws of mathematics dictate that you’re likely to encounter them again at some point in your journey to publication and beyond. No-matter how awful a rejection makes you feel, please be polite and respectful to the person giving you the bad news. Burning your bridges is not only unprofessional and wrong, it is foolish. “Treat others as you’d like to be treated” is certainly applicable to rejection of your writing. I have worked for a publishing company and learned quickly that when our publication schedule was full, we had no choice but to reject writers – it was like removing a tether. Our concern was that leaving writers waiting too long for a response was like tethering them to uncertainty when they could be out there trying to have their work published elsewhere. Whenever a writer responded impolitely, we knew that working relationship would never be successful – so we’d forget about that person’s submission. It was respectful writers who thanked us for taking the time to consider their manuscript that we’d never forget; in fact, when our schedules cleared a little, they were the first to be contacted. Sometimes rejection isn’t down to your writing being of inferior quality, it could simply be that the literary agent or publisher has a full schedule at that moment in time.
3.) Edit your manuscript, again.
I learned this the hard way. If you’re the only pair of eyes to have read through, edited and proofread your manuscript, there will inevitably be mistakes. It is true that you could have the brightest editorial team on the planet work on your manuscript and still find the odd typo or grammatical error – I reiterate that we are all only human – but I advise you always have an editor read through your manuscript before sending it to literary agencies and publishing companies. You’ll find an array of talented editorial professionals in the “Helpful Resources” section of my website if you don’t already know an excellent editor. Even one extra read-through of your manuscript by someone else can help catch plot-holes and errors that might be costing you opportunities for success with literary agents and publishers. As a perfectionist I had issue comprehending that my own abilities were not enough, after all, it was my writing so why shouldn’t I be the best person to edit it? Though rejection taught me that no-matter how meticulous I was with my manuscripts, I’d never find success until I accepted constructive criticism and honest, helpful feedback. Now, I thoroughly enjoy the editorial process – even if a manuscript is rejected, at least my editor enjoyed reading through it! And if an editor doesn’t like something I’ve written, they’re gifting me the opportunity to improve that manuscript until it is of a high enough standard to submit to literary agencies and publishing companies. I’m happy to read through manuscripts and offer advice, though because time is precious, it tends not to be something I’m able to complete free of charge – sorry!
4.) Move on.
It is easy to reside in a spiral of self-doubt and misery after countless rejections, but please don’t. The world needs your writing. So, the longer you spend sulking because a handful of people out of the 7 billion+ on this planet didn’t decide to publish or support your work, the less likely it is your manuscript gets into the hands of readers who will become your biggest fans. Keep writing, revising, and sending submissions, because humanity requires your writing talent – you just haven’t found the right home for it yet.
I hope I have helped you feel better about rejection in the realms of writing. Please feel free to reach out if I can be of any further assistance in your journey to publication 🙂
I have been using this time to inspire myself and my writing. After nearly 30 years of writing, I have learned many things. One is that writing can solve a multitude of problems; whether that’s writing the book you want to read because you’ve never been able to find it, having an outlet for creative inspiration, or helping to work through anxieties by journaling. Another is that writing is as beautiful, breathtaking, and life-giving as it is fulfilling – in my job as a ghostwriter, I love enabling someone to make their dream of publishing a reality, by putting their ideas in writing. Though the truth is, writing can also be exhausting. Writer’s Block can strike at any moment, and it’s with that in mind I am arming you with the skills to defeat Writer’s Block…
1.) TAKE A BREAK Yes, I did mean to shout that. I know it feels the complete opposite of what you’re supposed to do in this situation, because, if you’re like me, you want to just power through and get that writing done. I get it. But more often than not, that doesn’t work. However, I do have good news for you; walking away from your project works wonders! It gives you time to breathe and think about something other than the undiscovered intricacies of this project circling your sanity. It relieves the pressure, and reminds you that there’s more to life in the moment than clambering over the ever-growing wall of Writer’s Block. You’ll surprise yourself when you step away and allow that wall to crumble, freeing your mind to welcome a return of free-flowing ideas 🙂
2.) Go Outside! This follows on from the previous point, but I think it’s necessary to highlight this. Going outside is soooo helpful. Take a walk around the block; go eat a picnic in your local park; spend time with your pets; go horse riding; try wildlife or landscape photography; do something outside whilst enjoying fresh air. Immerse yourself in the beauty of nature. Our world is inspiring, though you’ll never truly feel that if you never get outside to experience it 🙂 Something doesn’t have to have a divine or profound effect on you to be worthy inspiration – it can be the way a bird splashes in a birdbath, or sunlight dancing through leaves when looking up from the base of a tree, or even seeing a dog sliding on muddied grass to fetch their toy. Inspiration can be drawn from anything if you take the time just to look.
3.) Read. I love to read. It inspires us to write, because something someone else has written has moved us. Whether that first realisation of this was twenty years ago, or five minutes ago, it is still so important. Ultimately we cannot learn or grow as writers without reading, it teaches us our craft. Don’t feel guilty about reading when you’re struggling to write – just read something you enjoy and fall back in love with words.
4) Write! This is my final tip. This is one of the most useful tips for me. Forget what you’re currently trying to work through and write about anything in the world. It can be about your day, or your love of hats; or about a word you can’t get out of your head. You can Google search writing prompts, there are so many out there! The great thing about using writing prompts is that no one has to see it. It can be the worst piece of writing ever, but there’s no pressure. It is then that you’ll find writing becomes fun again – that’s the beauty of it 🙂
When you feel like the colour has drained from your writing, please don’t give up. Keep in mind that you are not alone and that wall will break. I’m rooting for you! <3
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