How Helping Yourself Can Also Help Your Writing

Have you ever felt guilty for planning self-care time instead of working on your writing project? No more. In this post, I share how self-care can improve the quality of your writing.

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by Elzevera Albada Jelgersma

How helping yourself can also help your writing - why self-care is a crucial part of the self-editing process

We all long for self-care. A long, hot bath. Some alone time. A nice cup of tea and a book. Bingeing a Netflix series.

However, many of us forego self-care because we believe our time should be ‘better’ spent. We want to be productive, and when we have clear goals in mind (like self-editing a book), we feel guilty when we think we don’t spend every spare second working toward that goal.

But the truth is a series of clichés. You can’t pour from an empty cup. You need to take care of yourself before you can take care of others (that includes your characters). You need to recharge your batteries.

And it’s not just about making sure there’s water in the cup or battery left; it’s about taking it to the next level and making sure you go beyond survival mode to enjoy what you’re doing rather than just going through the motions like a robot. To sharpen your senses and improve your performance.

But I only have so much spare time, and I want to finish my book. Doesn‘t that mean I need to make sacrifices?

I hear you. But what if I told you that self-care is a crucial part of the self-editing process?

Read on for a list of ways self-care can improve the quality of your writing.

#1 – If your mind is foggy or frazzled, you’ll read without processing

It’s happened to all of us: you read the same page over and over again, but you register nothing.

When your mind is fogged over, taking a moment to yourself, a moment of self-care, will be more beneficial to your manuscript than forcing yourself to keep going.

By pushing on with an overworked mind, you deny yourself the chance to make your writing the best it can be. Because either you’ll skip parts you would have been able to improve with a clearer mind, or you’ll be so focused on how hard your brain has to work you won’t process the words on the page, let alone figure out how to improve them.

Furthermore, if you always self-edit with a cloudy mind, you’ll come to associate that state of mind with the act of self-editing. That can cause you to dread the next self-editing session, which won’t help you find that inner peace you long for.

Instead, when you feel your mind is foggy or frazzled, consider what you can do to relax and unwind. To recharge.

Take half the time you set aside for self-editing and spend it on self-care. If you were going to self-edit for an hour, relax and take care of yourself for 30 minutes. If you were going to self-edit for five minutes, meditate for two-and-a-half.

Doing this will ensure the rest of your self-editing time is well spent, and the results will be much better than if you try to power through.

#2 – A peaceful mind has space for new and improved thoughts

When your mind is filled with thoughts and worries or even just a giant clump of brain fog, there’s no room for new ideas.

So if you don’t take the time to diminish the overwhelm or the fogginess, you’re missing out on some potentially great ideas!

By allowing yourself to take a step back and unwind, you open up space that can be filled with new thoughts. Creative solutions that will help you fix a plot hole. A character trait that will make them more relatable.

Without that space, you’ll be staring yourself blind on what’s already there because there’s no room for your thoughts to expand.

So take a series of deep breaths and figure out a way to de-clog your mind before diving into your editing session. When your thoughts can do cartwheels and fly around freely, there’s a big chance your resourcefulness will increase, which will take your story to the next level.

#3 – By taking care of yourself, you take control

You may feel like you control the situation by insisting on your self-editing time, foggy brain or not, but the fact is that by doing that, you’re bullying yourself.

Consider this: if you were somebody’s boss and they were clearly exhausted and in need of a rest, would you push them to go on?

Probably not. You’d take control of the situation by telling your employee to go home and recharge.

As a writer, you’re both the employee and the boss. You want to deliver good work, but you also need someone higher up to remind you it’s okay to take care of yourself. You’re the boss in this situation too.

So take control and order yourself some time away when you notice your performance is suffering. And don’t wait until the breaking point to take action: anticipate your need for self-care, so you don’t have to get to that breaking point to notice what’s going on.

By regularly taking care of yourself, you take control of the situation, which will make you feel stronger and more empowered when you work on your writing. This, in turn, will make it easier to make self-editing decisions, which will improve the quality of the end result.

#4 – Managing your time to fit in self-care will benefit your self-editing routine

If you have trouble figuring out a self-editing routine that works for you, focusing on a self-care routine first can help.

Self-editing can quickly feel like something that has to be done. Like work.

By focusing on creating a self-care routine first, you get a grip on what works for you while recharging in the process.

Once you’ve figured out what kind of routine works for you, you can apply it to self-editing as well. You may even find an ideal combination of the two, where you set aside a block of time in which you do both: self-edit first and self-care after, or the other way around.

A set routine doesn’t work for everyone, but it can help develop a habit, both for self-editing and self-care, which makes it easier to work consistently. This, in turn, will give you the confidence that the project will get finished: you work on it regularly, after all.

#5 – The more you enjoy yourself, the better the end result will be

Last but not least, I firmly believe that to develop your manuscript’s full potential and to unleash your full potential as a writer, you should have fun.

When you enjoy the process rather than consider it a necessity, your mind will experience less pressure to perform, which gives you the freedom to experiment. The freedom to focus on the moment and enjoy each step along the way.

Making self-care a part of your self-editing routine will not slow you down or get in the way. Instead, it’ll allow you to optimise the time you spend working on your manuscript, and it’ll let you self-edit with joy and confidence.

Your mind will have all the space it needs to come up with creative, resourceful ideas and solutions that will enhance your writing and make it shine.

So go on and schedule yourself some self-care right now, my friend, and watch your self-editing experience improve 😊

“When your thoughts can do cartwheels and fly around freely, there’s a big chance your resourcefulness will increase, which will take your story to the next level.”

One of the self-care activities I love most is planning. When my mind is frazzled and foggy, I sit down and write down everything I feel I have to do. Based on that, I can prioritise and get clear on what needs to happen when, which often has my mind breathe a massive sigh of relief. It’s rarely as bad as I thought it would be.

If self-editing fogs over your mind, make sure to check out my free self-editing checklist, so you know exactly what to expect in which order. Deep breaths. You got this, at your own pace, with plenty of self-care.


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