Featured Writer on Wellness: Tina Welling

Filed in Writers on Wellness by on June 5, 2014 • views: 1112

Tina-Welling_PostMy biggest physical challenge since I’ve begun writing full time is being indoors for so much of the day.

I’ve tried working outside in nice weather, but I can’t seem to do any meaningful writing, just light, daydreamy work, though it’s a good place to edit.

Deeper work eludes me outside; I get caught up in the birdsong, the breezes, fragrances and sun warmth. But when I am working in my writing cabin and see the sun glinting off the aspen leaves, I yearn to go outside.

My rule is to work until 3:00 in the afternoons, Monday through Friday, then I’m free to go out. I cheat fairly often though.

Even a Single “Downward Dog” Can Ease Stiffness

I used to have a red licorice drawer in my desk. Now I’ve added nuts, sesame sticks, and trail mix. That’s a healthy move for me.

Also, I fill a large water bottle every morning that I especially use at my desk with the intention that I will empty it each day, while also drinking water and juices away from my desk. If I get carried away writing too long in the afternoons, I can count on my pup Zoe to nudge my leg at 3:00 so we can go for a two- or three-mile walk.

Once in a while I’ll need to do some yoga to stretch my back muscles.  Even a single “downward dog” can ease stiffness amazingly well. I make sure to hike or ski on the weekends in order to get in some serious exercise and playtime away from my desk.

It Became My Job to Feel Good About Writing, Published Or Not

In my new book Writing Wild:  Forming a Creative Partnership with Nature, I write about the trouble I had taking time away from my family to write.

For me that was a huge struggle.

During the early stages of deciding I wanted to be a writer, I didn’t feel that I was good enough (and the publishers I sent my work to then never contested my opinion!) to demand a corner for my desk or to excuse myself from family TV watching in the evenings in order to write.

I tended to keep my writing a secret from friends and co-workers, so I often felt that I was leading a double life.

Then when I decided it was time to be honest about my passion, many felt sorry for me because I wasn’t getting published, which was uncomfortable. Still, it was the right thing to do and it became my job to feel good about writing whether I was published or not.

I’m Not Swayed By Others’ Reactions to My Writing

Once I became clear that I was writing because I loved to do it, I was able to let go of the outcome.

So by the time my first novel was published, I was very clear on the fact that I wrote because I was happiest while engaged in creative work. That awareness has helped to keep me in balance now that my fourth book is published.

I’m not swayed off-center by other people’s reactions to my writing. I find it wonderfully fulfilling when a reader gets my work, the way we all do when we meet a new friend that we resonate with, yet those readers who do not respond positively to my books are allowed to hold those feelings without upsetting me.

The Darkest Moment: The Day the Editor Said It Wasn’t For Her

I worked hard and long hours on a version of Writing Wild about ten or so years ago, because an editor expressed strong interest in it.

I also owned a resort business that took much of my time and energy, so my days were really packed. Finally, panting hard, I sent in the manuscript.

The day the editor said that ultimately it wasn’t for her, I crashed.

I had a lot of experience at that point with rejection, but this editor was reading it chapter by chapter as I whipped it off, so I thought we were in this project together. All she said was, “It’s not for me,” as if she had just then checked it out for the first time.

I was exhausted and dejected.

What Got Me Back In Balance: Cleaning the Bathroom

It’s funny, but the thing that got me back in balance was deep cleaning my bathroom—I mean tile grout, the whole deal—and then showering in it afterward.

I just felt back in my skin in a way that I hadn’t been during the months of writing for this editor.

I learned that I know how to care for myself. Usually caring for myself means walking long distances outdoors, meditating, reading spiritual teachings, knitting on my porch swing, fixing delicious food, and eating it along with a glass of wine.

Those lows can be hard times, though. Without those tough rejections, however, my bathroom suffers.

The One Thing That Has Kept You On Your Path

I write to understand my sense of self and my experience in the world.

That’s what keeps me writing.

Some magic occurs when I pick up my pen and begin trying to figure out things. It may be a confusion I carry about a relationship or troubling emotions I’m holding, whatever it is, I receive clarity and calm by writing about it.

It is almost an after-thought that the writing results in an essay or a fictional character. And that usually happens when I need even further insight on the issue.

Putting my issues in a fictive character’s life offers distance and perspective and the same thing happens when I try to write about my troubles for someone else to read.

Of course, there are those things we never solve, yet we are eased by telling others or putting it into words for ourselves.

Advice for a Young Writer: Rejections Aren’t Personal

I would want writers to understand that rejections are not personal.

Some of the most beautiful writers have stopped writing because they cannot take the rejection.

My strongest tool as a writer may be persistence. I just kept going. I watched writers that I knew were better than me drop out because of a couple rejections, and others because of several or many rejections.

I received rejections for most of fifteen years. I had to deeply address the reason why I wrote and it turned out it was not to get published, though that exchange with others is a wonderful part of the process.

In Writing Wild, I explore the real desire behind our wish to get published and it’s a result of me needing to solve that for myself.

* * *

Tina Welling is the author of Writing Wild: Forming A Creative Partnership With Nature, and the novels Crybaby Ranch, Fairy Tale Blues, and Cowboys Never Cry.  Her essays have been published in “Shambhala Sun,” “The Writer,” “Body & Soul,” and other national magazines, as well as four anthologies. She conducts creative writing and journal-keeping workshops around the country, and resides in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Find more information about her on her website.


Cover image Writing WildWriting Wild: Align your creative energy with nature’s.

“Everything we know about creating,” writes Tina Welling, “we know intuitively from the natural world.”

In Writing Wild, Welling details a three-step “Spirit Walk” process for inviting nature to enliven and inspire our creativity.

Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, and Powell’s.

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Comments (3)

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  1. Elizabeth Brooks says:

    I really enjoyed reading this. I think you put it so well when you said that once you realised you were writing for the love of it, you could let go of the outcome – that seems so right to me. Being published is lovely, but it shouldn’t be anyone’s reason for writing, there has to be a deeper need to put things down on paper. Thank you!

  2. Susan Mark says:

    It can be hard to find that balance and keep self-care in the schedule. Thank you, Tina, for your insight.