Friday, October 25, 2019

The Abbreviated Manual for the Care and Feeding of Writers

Generalized instructions for keeping a writer alive, interacting with other humans with minimal snarling, reasonably happy, marginally sane, and writing (which feeds the first four conditions.)

If you love a writer:
  1. Advocate for a room of the writer's own. Perfect world, this room of the writer's own is not shared space, but you know, you do what you can.
  2. Ask the writer to declare office hours (this is a negotiation you participate in, because the hours have to work for you, too, in the interest of the next step.)
  3. Stop talking to us while we're writing. Seriously. The house is only so big. You can find your missing thing yourself. This goes double for the refrigerator and pantry. Not everything can be in front. Move things. If you still can't find what you want, go to the store. No more interrupting writing time to ask how to find something. If the house is on fire or blood is being spilled, by all means interrupt. If you're leaving and want us to know, that's a yes from me, too, but your writer may disagree. Asking what your writer prefers belongs in the negotiation above.
If you are the writer:
  1. Take responsibility for your own well-being. Creativity doesn't exist in a vacuum. It needs feeding as much as you do. To that end:
    • Take your meds if you need 'em. See the MD if they aren't working.
    • Drink water.
    • Eat actual healthy food.
    • Exercise.
  2. Talk to your loved ones and your friends when you aren't writing. Help them find their things in your off hours if that's their love language. Part of caring for and feeding you means caring for and feeding the people you care about. (Yeah, I know the numbering has lost its damned mind - went into the HTML to fix and let's just say that didn't go well. It shouldn't be news to anyone that computers can't really count.)
  3. Set office hours. Keep them. Enforce them from a place of love and compassion for the people and critters in your life. This is why I will always advocate for a writer having a door to shut, even if I don't have that, myself. Remember that 'No.' is a complete sentence.
  4. Get out into nature once in a while to remind yourself you live in this world as well as the worlds of your stories.
  5. Cultivate a hobby. Preferably one radically different than writing. Knitting. Gardening. Painting. Serial remodels. Whatever. You're looking for something to take you out of the frustrations inherent to writing and put you in different brain space. Bet your problem solving is speedier.
  6. Find community. It's natural to talk about what we do, what we aspire to, and what we wish we could do. Our families may not be equipped to have those conversations. It isn't that they don't care, they just may not have the frame of reference that allows them to do anything more than smile and nod. So it's vital to find or create a community of fellow writers who can validate your experiences in a way family might want to, but can't.
  7. Lighten up and don't take writing, yourself, or the care and feeding rules too seriously. Cause this is all about figuring out what works and what support you need from your nearest and dearest.