As much as I would like to break stereotypes, I am the quintessential writer – offbeat, reclusive, and often teetering between depression and low-grade mania. For reasons I won’t go into right now, my weird traits have caused me to sometimes struggle as a writer and creative.
I have a long way to come to becoming a balanced person (though I doubt if anyone ever achieves this), but despite this, I have become a pretty self-sufficient and resourceful human being over the years. I’m going to share some tips on how to live happily and fully, for writers like myself who are possibly more prone to burn out and melancholy than others.
Here are my simple secrets for marvellous behaviour:
Listen to what your heart is telling to do – even if it’s risky
I graduated last year and after the initial “anything is possible” honeymoon period, I realised I wasn’t getting the jobs I thought I wanted. A few weeks ago I realised that instead of listening to my heart telling me to be a writer, I had settled for a marketing job that bores me to death because it was there… and then I wondered why my creativity had all but disappeared. In three weeks time, I’m quitting, travelling to Japan and when I return, I’m focusing 100% on doing what I love.
Creativity comes from the heart and nothing will kill that more than when you let logic takes over a bit too much. Of course, a girl’s gotta eat, but if you have some money to spare, take a risk. Quit your job, travel and get your career going with a fresh, distraction-free mind.
Learn to cook, well
And I don’t mean just learn how to make a mean mac n’ cheese, because if you’re going to thrive creatively, you’ve got to feed your brain with the nutrients it craves.
Buy a heap of vegetables and get creative! It’s great for the imagination too, (hint, fiction writers).
Exercise and go outside, seriously
A little over a year ago, you wouldn’t have caught me dead in a gym… but after gaining 10kg seemingly overnight and ongoing backpain, I signed up at the gym and never looked back. Exercise is one of the best ways to get on top of depression and anxiety symptoms, and if you’re exercising outside, you get a good dose of Vitamin D as well!
I’m by no means a gym junkie, but I walk to the gym, do some light weights and have a go on the cardio machines or I go to an group fitness class most days of the week. To be honest, it’s incredibly boring while I’m there, so I listen to educational podcasts so I can give my brain a workout at the same time.
Learn the art of moderation
Wine is your friend, but you shouldn’t abuse your friends. By all means, have a tipple… maybe even treat yourself to a monthly hangover… but don’t go overboard with alcohol. For many people, alcohol serves as a way to connect with other human beins and it takes practice to learn how to control alcohol, instead of allowing it to control you.
Key word: SIP
Carry a notebook with you
We writers get so many ideas as we’re whizzing about town… but if you don’t write your ideas down, they will soon evaporate. Some people will jot their ideas down into their phone or laptop, but here, I personally think paper wins.
Bring a small notebook with you everywhere you go and don’t write anything in it EXCEPT for ideas. That means no panicked phone number scribblings or shopping lists – just beauty.
Use public transport
Most days of the week, I have to drive to my current job, and it’s depressing. If you can, take the transport to work. It’s wonderful for people watching and you get like 30 minutes guaranteed for writing or reading.
Even if it’s just a day trip to a suburb or a nearby town you’ve never been to, try and get out of your local surroundings to avoid that awful feeling of stagnation. Once a year, try and do a longer distance trip… maybe even to another country. It gives you something to look forward to and a tangible thing to save for and dream of when life gets tough.
Spend five minutes cleaning something
Sometimes I fall into the trap of making a massive mess of my house during the week, then spending virtually all of Saturday cleaning up after myself. If you tidy up as you go, it will take you like five minutes… leaving you more time to work on your craft!