My first official blog post as a writer is, ironically, a post about not writing. Because that’s what I’ve been doing for the past month. In the middle of a year dedicated to launching my career by way of ambitious goals and a breakneck writing schedule, I was sidelined for a month by the fruit of that ambition—a whopping case of self-neglect.
Like many other writers, I have a family and a life that demands a majority of my time be spent doing things that are not writing. And, like a lot of moms, I often end up putting myself at the end of the line, whether it’s for breakfast or shoe shopping or sleep. And I thought I was getting away with it. Many of my days began with feeding kids, fixing their lunches and getting them off to school, followed by a six hour writing marathon where I would be curled up sideways in a chair, forgetting to eat and rarely getting any exercise. I drank a lot of coffee, stressed about deadlines and hunted for grammar and spelling errors for hours while hunched over a laptop at my kitchen table.
And I told myself I was simply doing what I had to do if I wanted to be a full time writer. Sacrifice! Work hard! Produce! Agonize! Repeat!
Except that this process ended up breaking me. It has not only sidelined me as a writer, but as a mom, though I can’t claim to be quite as upset about not being able to wash my dishes or fold my laundry.
A month of back and arm pain with all their accompanying questions and doctor’s visits has turned up very little by way of official answers, only a few personal ones, and most of them not very helpful in terms of productivity. I still don’t know exactly what’s been causing the problem, only that the pain has been at least partially relieved by taking the time to be healthy.
And I don’t mean super obsessively healthy either. Sleeping enough. Eating enough. Learning to let things go. Taking walks and drinking water. Reading for fun and not burning myself out over a few missed commas.
It’s not been a fun lesson to learn. I don’t like knowing that I’m breakable, let alone that I can break doing almost nothing. If I’d run a marathon, or been chopping down trees, I would at least have a good story to tell, but all I was doing was sitting on my couch, living in imaginary worlds and pounding out five thousand words a day.
And yet, I believe I might be a better writer for knowing how easily it can all fall apart. I am convinced I will be more creative for taking the time to acknowledge my own needs. And I hope I will be infinitely easier to live with for having granted the truth that perfection is impossible.
Here’s to My Writing Career 2.0. May it be healthier, less productive, and a lot more fun this time around.