The biggest physical challenge of being a writer? Easy. Wrist pain and eye strain.
I find if I overuse my computer mouse—whether writing a novel, editing, blogging, or engaging in social media—my wrist starts to throb. Then I know it’s time to put on a wrist brace, and rest my hand as much as possible. Or switch up and use my other hand.
Eye strain happens more when I’m revising and proofing. Sometimes I use an eye patch to give my sore eye a rest.
As a Writer, I’ve Learned to Listen to My Body
The one thing writers don’t want to screw around with is the health of their eyes. So take frequent breaks when proofing or editing. Your eyes will thank you.
The key for me is that as a writer, I’ve learned to listen to my body. I stop if it hurts. I rest. Stretch if I need to release the kinks. It’s pretty much all common sense.
Writers, Exercise First!
I’m not kidding. Writers are mostly on their butts doing what they love to do, but our bodies were made to move.
I used to write first thing in the morning to get my word count, but as the day blossomed, exercise went on the back burner. So I kick-start my day by either doing free weights, abdominal exercises, and push-ups, or riding on my stationary bike for 25-30 minutes.
There’s an added bonus for exercising on the bike—I can read from my TBR pile!
Once the exercise routine is done in the morning, I feel recharged and ready to start the rest of the day writing, planning, marketing, or promoting my books.
I still try to get up and stretch every 30-45 minutes, and then there’s my faithful companion—a spoiled yellow Labrador—that insists he be walked every day at 2 pm sharp. That’s non-negotiable.
Writers Need to Figure Out What They Can Handle, and What They Can’t
These days, writers must wear so many hats. Indie authors more so. If you’re lucky to score a contract with a publisher like I did, a lot of the work such as your book cover design, editing, formatting, and some marketing and promoting are taken care of for you. With a publisher, you’re part of a team, and are expected to participate fully.
But if you decide to go with self-publishing you either learn the ropes and wear all the hats, or delegate and hire cover artists, editors, formatters, and book promotion or marketing specialists. And believe me it’s not cheap. We live in a new time of publishing where the rules are not quite yet defined, and anything goes.
So writers need to figure out what they can handle, and what they can’t.
I hired a web designer. I’ve even hired a book promotion specialist to help with a blog tour for my book launch. Writers are a tough breed. You must realize that you can’t handle everything. Or this business will break you.
It’s humbling to understand you need to rely on others, and it will create a sense of peace. Balance what you can, and dole out the rest.
Writers Know What Other Writers Go Through
How have I coped with emotional challenges? I found my team, my tribe, my go-to writing group.
Writing is such a solitary profession. Humans need human contact. Period. Face it, we weren’t born to live a life of solitude.
Like attracts like, and writers are no exception. I connected with other writers through courses, social media, my publishers, writing groups—I could go on, but you get the gist—because of our common love of books and writing.
Writers know what other writers go through. They feel each other’s pain, know what it’s like to be rejected, and invest a lot of time, energy, and money into a profession that may or may not pay off in the long run.
Supporting other writers, and helping them out when the going gets tough, has helped me tremendously when I’ve felt down in the dumps and overwhelmed. And those awesome writers do the same for me.
It happens to the best of us, these emotional challenges. So why not hang with like-minded souls, who can give you a hug—virtually or physically?
Continual Rejection Can Get Under Your Skin
My darkest moment? Crap, wondering if I was even good enough to make it as a writer.
Self-doubt can cripple a writer. Even kill his or her dream. Continual rejection (from both publishers and agents) can get under your skin and rip it to shreds until there’s nothing left, nothing to bleed out.
So how did I pull myself out of this darkness? I. Just. Kept. Going. I felt I’d put too much time and energy into writing and planning books, I thought I might as well keep going, as I love doing this too much to quit.
Plus, I’m truly a stubborn broad.
From the time I decided to learn how to write a book (1995) until I could finally call myself a published author (2012), there were a lot of those “dark times.” Still, I stuck with my dream of becoming published.
I learned the craft of writing, joined writing groups, took courses, honed my skills, and wrote six books. Translation: I got my hands dirty. I practiced, persevered, and learned the art of patience. Those three key things pulled me out of my funk, and kept me going.
Another way I coped was to learn to develop a positive mental attitude through reading books and blogs geared toward positivity and success principles. This alone will take you far in anything you want to accomplish in your lifetime.
Writers, Invest In Yourself
So what’s the one thing that has kept me true to my path? Investing in myself.
When you buy a house, you make an investment. When you go to school to learn a profession or trade, you invest in yourself. Writers can better their best only by investing the time and energy into their craft by going to conferences, writing workshops, taking writing courses, reading books on writing, and practice, practice, practice.
I’ve got a lot of years under my belt just with practicing and learning, and have two book series to show for it. Was it easy? No. But I knew I was being true to myself by following my heart, and investing in myself.
I truly believe I was called to be a writer. At least the small voice inside my head said so. Like those blood donor ads that say “it’s in you to give,” so it was for me by following the path as a writer and give the world the stories bubbling in my imagination.
Yes, I’d love to be a bestselling author. Yes, I want to make money doing what I love. Most writers want that. I know I have something to say so I stay on the path, stick to my plan, and smile with each step I take.
Advice for a Young Writer: Follow Your Heart
Life is short, so follow your heart, regardless of the challenges ahead of you.
Let’s face it. Life is full of challenges and obstacles. Those are the things that makes us stronger, better, faster. That’s what our characters face every time we writers drag them through the muds of hell. Then, like us, our characters evolve and grow.
Writing is a tough gig, but so rewarding when you write those final two words “The End.” It’s a badge of honor, and feels wonderful and uplifting, like you’ve reached the pinnacle of super hero status.
The hardest part is sticking to your writing. Going through the basic training that every super hero has to go through. You learn. You fail. You pick yourself up, maybe fail again, and again. But you get back up until you’ve mastered one level, and then move on to the next one.
You excel, you celebrate every word you jot down in your magnum opus. Giving up is not an option when you have something to say. Make your readers feel what you feel. Go. Do. Be.
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Sharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/young adult time travel adventure series, The Last Timekeepers, and the teen psychic mystery series, Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls. When not writing, researching, or revising, she enjoys reading, exercising, anything arcane, and an occasional dram of scotch. Sharon lives a serene, yet busy life in a southern tourist region of Ontario, Canada, with her hubby, one spoiled yellow Labrador and a moody calico cat.
Learn more about Sharon Ledwith on her website and blog. Look up her Amazon author page for a list of current books. Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Goodreads. Check out The Last Timekeepers Time Travel Series Facebook page.
The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis, Book #1: When 13-year-old Amanda Sault and her annoying classmates are caught in a food fight at school, they’re given a choice: suspension or yard duty.
The decision is a no-brainer. Their two-week crash course in landscaping leads to the discovery of a weathered stone arch in the overgrown back yard. The arch isn’t a forgotten lawn ornament but an ancient time portal from the lost continent of Atlantis.
Chosen by an Atlantean Magus to be Timekeepers–legendary time travelers sworn to keep history safe from the evil Belial–Amanda and her classmates are sent on an adventure of a lifetime. Can they find the young Robin Hood and his merry band of teens? If they don’t, then history itself may be turned upside down.
The Last Timekeepers and the Dark Secret, Book #2: Fourteen year-old Jordan Jensen always considered himself a team player on and off the field, until the second Timekeeper mission lands him in Amsterdam during World War Two.
Pulled into the world of espionage, torture, and intolerance, Jordan and the rest of the Timekeepers have no choice but to do whatever they can to stay one step ahead of the Nazis in order to find and protect a mysterious book.
With the help of the Dutch Resistance, an eccentric baron, Nordic runes, and an ancient volume originating from Atlantis, Jordan must learn that it takes true teamwork, trust, and sacrifice to keep time safe from the evils of fascism. Can Jordan find the hero within to conquer the darkness surrounding the Timekeepers? If he doesn’t, then the terrible truth of what the Nazis did will never see the light of day.
Legend of the Timekeepers, prequel: Lilith was a young girl with dreams and a family before the final destruction of Atlantis shattered those dreams and tore her family apart. Now refugees, Lilith and her father make their home in the Black Land.
This strange, new country has no place in Lilith’s heart until a beloved high priestess introduces Lilith to her life purpose—to be a Timekeeper and keep time safe.
Summoned through the seventh arch of Atlantis by the Children of the Law of One, Lilith and her newfound friends are sent into Atlantis’s past, and given a task that will ultimately test their courage and try their faith in each other. Can the Timekeepers stop the dark magus Belial before he changes the seers’ prophecy? If they fail, then their future and the earth’s fate will be altered forever.
BONUS: Download the free PDF short story The Terrible, Mighty Crystal HERE.