My goodness, that’s an interesting title to find on a website devoted to helping writers improve their craft. It’s an easy thing to tell someone to just sit down and do your best to get as many words on the digital paper, and for most folks that’s the secret they’ve been trying to avoid.
For others, sometimes it’s important to know when you should focus on other things.
This one caught up with me in a big way for the past year. It’s important to take care of yourself when you’re younger. The older you get, the tougher it is to fix the old chassis. In some extreme cases you may find you have to have defective parts removed, such as an appendix. In other extreme cases, one may require spare parts to be installed, such as a new kidney or a sense of humor.
My issues include heart problems that put me in the hospital twice in the last thirty days, plus the slow deterioration of other important things like kidneys and joints. I now usually walk with a cane, which is not what I was expecting.
If you can, go to those doctor appointments even if you think you’re feeling fit as a fiddle. Sometimes a fiddle string can be on the verge of snapping, and it takes a practiced eye to spot it.
If you have persistent aches and pains, go find out what is causing them. It may be something as simple as bad posture or something that a chiropractor can adjust. It may be something more sinister lurking under your skin.
Ibuprofin, Tylenol, and Naproxen Sodium are not cures for pains. They mask the symptoms. Finding out the cause is the best method for long-term relief.
If it hurts your arms, wrists, hands, or fingers to write or type, stop doing it. You can take a break to let your appendages recover. I have repetitive motion issues, particularly in my left arm and wrist. I am in the process of switching over to dictation as my writing method. It takes a while to get used to it and to train the software.
Personal mental health problems are tough to deal with, especially when one goes from twenty eight years of marriage to two years of living alone. Depression is a tough foe to battle. Find a therapist you can afford when you need one. I’m still waiting to see one from the Veterans Administration, but I’ll get to see one eventually. Hopefully they’ll be competent, but sometimes it is hit and miss with the VA.
Don’t get sidelined by the stigma of talking to a professional. Sometimes just talking is enough to get you through some of the tougher spots in life. Get it taken care of now instead of when it’s a life-threatening emergency.
It’s easy to get sidetracked with writing deadlines (or your occupation in general) and forget to do things with your family. This will come around and bite you in your later years. Go play catch with your daughter or kick the soccer ball around. Take some time off to go to the beach or some other inexpensive day trip. The kids won’t remember how much you spent on them, but they will remember the time you were there. This is particularly tough if you happen to be in the military, but do the best you can when you’re not deployed.
Work on issues with your spouse when the problems are small. They will grow with age, just like a mutant troll who feeds on your trash and lives in your basement. If you don’t solve the issues when they’re relatively minor, you’ll be waging a war later on — or even sitting alone in a quiet house writing up posts for a website during Christmas week.
♦ ♦ ♦
This is a bit of a depressing blog post, but it is an important one for writers to hear and understand. Think of me as your Ghost of Christmas Past, pointing out the error of my ways in order that you don’t get bound by the same rattling chains I forged and attached to myself. Think about your future, since your life and your family are important pieces of your writing life.
Self-Promotion Time: I’ve been heading up a project called ConDB (http://www.condb.com), which is a convention database listing website geared towards authors, artists, and creative professionals. Stop by and check it out.