Friday, June 13, 2008

Self Care for the Writer

Wordplay and Witticisms: "With stammering lips and insufficent sounds, I strive and struggle to deliver right the music of my nature..."
~ Elizabeth Barrett Browning

We are just about to break our "manuscript fast" and launch into the daunting task of manuscript editing...a perfect time to talk about taking care of yourself - your body to be more exact. Plus, today is "Fall Back Friday" (as in take a break, refresh, renew, etc.) so it is fitting!

In my other life I am a massage therapist. The large majority of my clients suffer from work induced problems. Translation? They sit at a desk all day and spend eight hours wreaking complete havoc on their bodies! But I'm just sitting there, how can that wreak bodily havoc? Believe me, it can and does!

You've heard the phrase: "a rolling stone gathers no moss"? Well, a stationary one does...and it isn't pretty. The moss I am referring to manifests as tight, inefficient muscles, decreased attention and alertness, poor circulation, increased stress, and pain. OK, so I am being a bit liberal in my interpretation of this idiom, but bear with me.

Sitting too long at a desk or computer isn't good. There are a handful of looooong posts in this comment alone, and they have the potential to be snoozers, so just trust me on this one. And you have probably experienced this for yourself. Your neck gets tight, maybe you even end up with a headache. Your forearms tingle and ache. Your brain becomes sluggish, etc.

So what's a time-challenged, work-loving writer to do?

Take a break, frequently!

Yeah, we've all heard it, but do we do it? I admit sometimes I am religious about taking breaks - even setting a timer to remind me. Other times? Not so much.

So here is your gentle reminder: take a break from that screen, that chair, that desk. Walk around a little, roll your shoulders, do some yoga. Get a glass of water (good for so many reasons). Do some deep breathing - especially to get that brain moving. Hey, that oxygen might even stimulate a great new idea, plot point or character motivation! It doesn't really matter what you do. What's important is that you just do it: get up off your bootie and move around a little. Take a break. James Brown is in my head singing:

"Get up offa that thing, and dance 'till you feel better,
Get up offa that thing, and try to release that pressure!
Get up offa that thing, and shake 'till you feel better,
Get up offa that thing, and shake it, say it now!"

So get up offa that thing, just for a few moments. Then settle back in and pick up where you left off. Your body, mind and writing will thank you!

Do you take breaks? If so, what do you do to ease those aching eyes, muscles and mind?

Don't forget - our contest is still running. You'll be entered to win a signed copy of Going Topless by Renee Knowles. See Tuesday's post.

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