I find when I get immersed in my writing I don’t realize how much time has passed. Sometimes it can be a few hours.
I know this is not good for my body and once I stand up after a long stint at the computer, I am instantly reminded as to why it isn’t good. I make a few groans, reprimand myself for sitting so long and then do a few stretches.
Battling Neck and Back Pain
A few times a week I take some time in the morning to answer email and walk on the treadmill at the same time. It isn’t ideal cardio exercise because I can’t walk very fast and type. But I usually get in about 40-60 minutes.
I know some people who will work on a novel or other creative writing while walking on a treadmill, but I can’t seem to be very creative, type and walk at the same time.
I have a stretch I have found helpful after I have been sitting for a while. I stand in a doorway and put my hands on the door jamb and push my body while keeping my hands still. (Click here for more information on the stretch.)
Finding Balance Between Writing and Life
My biggest emotional challenge as a writer is definitely stress resulting from a lack of balance in my life. My kids are all grown now, so I have more time to myself. It is easy for me to fill my time with my work for Northern Colorado Writers, my new publishing company, my own writing and promotion.
I usually have so many things going on, I can easily be at my computer from morning until I go to bed at night if I am not careful. I know this is not a good or healthy way to live.
I have a few techniques I use to keep myself in balance. One thing I do pretty consistently is start my day off reading short, inspirational pieces. I takes some time to reflect on those and then sometimes journal as well. I also take a few minutes to think about all the things I am grateful for in my life and make a point to start my day from this place of gratitude and calmness.
I find when I do this, my days go much smoother and I am able to accomplish more in a shorter amount of time because I am more focused and grounded.
Getting outside is another thing that helps me. When the ground isn’t covered with snow or ice (like today) I like to go for a walk and get some fresh air in the afternoon. I also love fly fishing and I try to set time aside at least once a month to be out on the water.
I have had a few dark moments where I was ready to give up everything that had to do with writing and go get a job as a barista at Starbucks. It has been those time when nothing seems to go right, I am maxed out physically and emotionally, and I can’t get a writing assignment no matter how hard I try.
It has been a few of my close friends who have been able to pull me out of these moments and get me back on track. I know that without their support and encouragement, I would not have pushed through the darkness.
The One Thing That Has Kept You On Your Path
I am not someone who has known my whole life that I wanted to be writer. I grew up with the dream of being a teacher. And I did accomplish that. I was a preschool and elementary school teacher for about 10 years.
It was while fulfilling this childhood dream that I stumbled upon writing. I was trying to figure out a creative way to teach my 2nd grade students how (and why) to use a comma in a list. I created a fiction story, “Cornelius Comma Saves the Day.” The students loved it.
I ended up self-publishing this book, finding a writer’s group and found myself on this new path of writing. I tried doing it all for a couple of years. I was marketing my book, writing articles, being a mom to three young kids and a wife. It all became too much and I eventually resigned from teaching to be more available to my family and to pursue my writing.
I found myself with a new “calling” and a new sense of purpose. This purpose then grew into me also helping other writers find success. I have been on this path ever since. I truly believe my purpose is to support and encourage other writers as well as pursue my own writing. This is what keeps me going each day, and at times consumes me.
I also love the freedom of working from home and I don’t want to go back to a 9-5 job (This is a huge incentive ). I have an incredible support network of family, friends and my critique group that give me that encouragement when I need it and they push me to keep going. I can’t really put my finger on the one thing that above all keeps me going. It is a combination of all these things.
Advice for a Young Writer: Go For It!
If a young person wants to become a writer, I say go for it. Sure it’s going to be difficult at times, but anything worth pursuing is. You have to keep at it, persevere and stay the course. Good writers don’t happen overnight. It takes hard work, dedication and a willingness to study the craft in order to be the best writer possible.
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Kerrie Flanagan is the Director of Northern Colorado Writers, an accomplished freelance writer, instructor and author. Her work appears in six Chicken Soup for the Soul books, The Writer, Writer’s Digest, the 2011 Guide to Literary Agents, the 2015 Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market and in the past four Writers Markets. She is the author of Planes, Trains and Chuck & Eddie, Write Away: A Year of Musings and Motivations for Writers and Claire’s Christmas Catastrophe published under her label Hot Chocolate Press. She teaches writing classes throughout the year in Colorado and Wyoming.
Prior to her writing career, Kerrie was a teacher for 10 years. In 2007, she combined her love for writing and teaching with her passion for helping other writers and started Northern Colorado Writers. Through classes, workshops, meetings and an annual conference, NCW is able to provide its 200+ members and other writers, the tools, encouragement and information needed to find success.
Write Away; A Year of Musings and Motivations, combines monthly insightful and humorous stories about writing, with tips, tools and interactions that encourage writers to reflect on where they are and where they want to be.
From “Writing Naked” to” Writing an Effective Query Letter,” the essays remind readers of the unique nuances in the life of a writer and provide practical advice for strengthening skills and knowledge.
Available at Amazon.