Writer’s block is real.
So when my mind is bubbling with ideas for a blog post, I welcome it with open arms.
My fingers move across the keyboard at top speed, and even then it doesn’t seem as though I’m typing quick enough to keep up with the steady stream of words and sentences trying to force their way out of my head onto the screen.
I’m deep in the writing zone.
My blog post begins as a melting pot of words in my mind which explodes onto the screen.
Write, review, delete.
Write, review, delete.
Read and research.
Write, review, delete…
Eventually the explosion of words starts to take shape.
I glimpse the bottom of my laptop screen and see that it’s 2:30pm. I started writing at 11am.
Almost instantly, my stomach starts to rumble and my back starts to ache.
The realization that I haven’t eaten, I haven’t had a sip of water and I’ve been sitting in the same spot for almost 4 hours hits me.
I think, Argh, Leanne, you do this all the time! You know better than this!
I wish I could say this is a rare occurrence, unfortunately it’s not.
3 Things I Forget to Do
Bloggers have a tendency to become absorbed by whatever it is they’re working on.
As a result, some simple, but incredibly important things are forgotten.
1. Drink water
I’ve never been a big drinker so it already takes me a lot of effort to remember to drink water. I hardly get that thirsty feeling so I have to literally force myself to drink enough water.
And when I’m at the laptop, forget it. All thoughts of H2O leave the building.
Solution: Before sitting down to read, I put a 1.5 litre bottle of water on my desk so when I do look up from the screen, I’m reminded to have a drink.
If I’m anywhere else, when I’m hungry, I know about it. My stomach is loud and clear about it’s need to be fed. However, when I’m writing, it’s as though I have developed a new survival mechanism that allows me to totally ignore any cries for food by my body.
Solution: I try to prepare lunch in the morning, before sitting down to write, so that even though I’ll inevitably ignore my need to eat, when I finally realise that my body needs feeding, I don’t then need to wait another 30 minutes or so to eat.
This one is the most serious for me. I’ve had back and postural problems for 10+ years now so it is extremely important that I move frequently and stretch.
My health depends on it, literally.
Yet, I still frequently stay sat at the laptop for much longer than an hour, especially if I haven’t been drinking water.
Solution: If I’m drinking water, thankfully I cannot ignore my need to go to the toilet. This ensures I at least get up and move. I also try to do at least 10 minutes of yoga before I sit down to write.
3 Ways I Neglect My Health and Well-Being
Focus is great.
However, when I’m deep in the zone, working to a deadline or feeling guilty for not working enough hours, there are a few more needs that I neglect.
1. I don’t get enough sleep
It’s not uncommon for me to get only 5 hours sleep when I get in the writing zone. I know what time I have to wake up the next day, I’m aware of what the time is but I just can’t seem to drag myself away from the laptop.
A lack of sleep over time can have serious health implications.
There are many people who pride themselves on only sleeping for 5 hours or less, and quote “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” and I used to feel extremely guilty for being one of those lazy people that needs at least 7 hours sleep to feel at my best.
Solution: I try not to start writing after 8pm. If I have ideas that I absolutely have to get out of my head, I’ll write them in my journal and write the following day.
2. I don’t switch off
I’m an over-thinker.
I’m always thinking so I find it incredibly difficult to switch off. I’m always thinking of ideas for blog posts, ways to improve my blog and everything I don’t know how to do but think I should.
And that’s just stuff related to my blog. That does include thinking about life, society, politics, injustice, finances, relationships and everything else that’s a integral part of life.
Some nights my brain is so overstimulated that it takes me a while to wind down before I can go to sleep.
I’m also a chronic Googler (that’s a real word, right?). Whenever I think of something or want to know something, I Google it, but there and then if I can.
More often than not I go head first into the Google rabbit hole and before I know it a few hours have passed and I have 101 more things I’m thinking about.
Solution: I try to be off my laptop by 10pm and stop using my phone after this time. If there’s something I want to Google, I write it down to look at the next day.
3. I don’t relax
As a blogger, there’s always something to do.
The list never gets shorter.
There’s always a book or article to be read, a podcast to listen to, a video to watch, a blog post to be written or researched, graphics to be created, social media updates to be scheduled, emails to respond to and networking to be done.
I am always aware of how much there is still left to do so I often feel guilty when I’m doing something fun or sociable.
I think about what I could be getting done in that time; how much progress I could be making.
Solution: I permit myself one or two hours a day during the week to do anything that’s not blog/work related. It could be watching an episode of a TV boxset (currently watching Homeland), reading or colouring-in (don’t judge me, it’s one of the most therapeutic things to do)
Good Health is the Foundation for a Good Life
The thing is, it’s not even like my self-discipline is particularly weak. What I have realised, is that my desire to get things done once I’m in the flow is too strong.
I’m also driven by fear which means I often think about the worst case scenario.
What if I don’t get this post written? What if I don’t schedule those social media posts? What if I take more than 24 hours to reply to an email?
And so the list of what ifs continues.
I’m slowing beginning to see that it’s really not that serious.
I’m the person putting all this pressure on myself. I’m the one allowing external expectations and views to fuel my fears.
I don’t need permission to take a nap, go for lunch with a friend or take the evening off and watch 3 episodes of Homeland.
As much as I love blogging and I want my blog to be a positive contribution to many, my health and well-being must always be the priority.
I’ve experienced the challenges poor health can pose in life and I’m well aware that good health is the foundation for living a good life.
Following the solutions above, does not stop me falling back into bad habits, however it does help me to keep my health and well-being at the forefront of my mind most of the time.
What do you do to stay sane and healthy as a blogger?