hand holding pen and writing

Staying Healthy as a Writer – Changes for the New Year!

 December 28, 2021

When I started in ministry, over forty years ago, I decided I was in it for the long haul. I watched others more talented than I, burn through and burn out. They gave non-stop, never bothering to recognize their own needs or set boundaries against the ever-present demands of ministry. They usually left after three or five years. I resisted the impulse to compete with them or try to keep up with them, reminding myself I didn’t want to burn-out. I also resisted the many demands placed on ministers to be super human. But when it came to writing, I did no such thing. So, now I’m having to make some changes if I want to be in this for the long haul, staying healthy as a writer.

The Unhealthy Writer

For years I’ve dreamed of having more time to write. As it was, I would strive to write whenever I had spare moments in between the demands of ministry and being a single parent. When those moments appeared, I would write fast and furious, setting myself up for a lifetime of neck and shoulder pain and bad habits. Not that I can blame all of my neck/shoulder pain on writing. The responsibilities that came with ministry didn’t help, bending me over at times. Not to mention bending over to hold small hands as my children walked. I’ve long carried stress in my shoulders. Writing just added to it.

When I was laid-off from my position as a chaplain, I thought, maybe now was the time for me to write full-time. I always believed that day would come, just not as soon as it did. There was no thought at that time of the long haul. At fifty-six I felt the clock ticking and figured I had to make the best of what time I had left. I continued to write fast and furious, disregarding any thought that this might be bad for my neck and shoulders as I slouched over my laptop, working for hours without taking a break, or writing in my notebook. I sat on comfortable couches where I could put my feet up or sat outside on my swing or at my brother’s cottage. Who needed a table or desk? Who worried about posture? I was a woman on a mission. I felt God had called me to write, and write I did.

Time to Retire?

Last year December, as I finished the first draft of the last book of my Dancing through Life series, Prima Ballerina, I thought, maybe this was the end. Time to retire from writing. My husband was retiring in March so now seemed a good time. All I had to do was finish this book. I was burnt out, had no more ideas demanding my attention.

As the year progressed, I slowly realized I wasn’t done with writing. There were still things I wanted to say. I still felt that God was in my writing, even if all I did was write blog posts. But then, the years of disregard for what I was doing to my body caught up with me. Constant pain in my neck and shoulders. I consulted my doctor, got massages, and went to a chiropractor. I also consulted the members of one of the writing groups I was part of and received … wisdom.

Staying Healthy as a Writer

If I plan to continue writing for the long haul, whatever that means, there were changes I needed to make. Desks and tables are now my friends. I traded my laptop for a desktop computer so I could sit up proper. I try to avoid my comfy couch with my legs up, at least until done working. It’s time to treat writing like the job it is, not just my passion. No more sitting for hours at a time without a break, or at least I’m trying to take a break every hour or so. I trust that when I come back from my break, I will be able to pick up where I left off. This is a challenge as I get older and ideas seem to slip away rather than hang around. It will slow me down but not stop me.

Then there’s all the rest we need to do to stay healthy, such as drinking lots of water, eating fruits and vegetable, avoiding excess sugar, fat and salt, and losing weight. Well, maybe I can tackle that next year. One thing at a time. But maybe, just maybe, by staying healthy as a writer, my writing will improve. I hope so!

Are there changes you need to make this New Year to stay healthy as a writer, or just in general? How is that working for you?

Wishing you a safe and healthy New Year!

My latest book, Prima Ballerina, is available for pre-sale at a reduced price of $2.99 through Amazon. Price will go up on January 1 when it is published. Order your copy today!

This post is part of a series of blog posts. Sign up to follow this blog and and receive a free copy of  Still Dancingthe second book in my Dancing through Life Series.      click here to sign up

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