Learning to Practice Self-Care as Writers

Carmiel Banasky

photo by Arnold Poesch

Many times when I consult with writers, I find myself granting them permission to do less work, or to put less pressure on themselves. It always reminds me of how fond Alan Watts was of saying, “The nice thing about hitting your head with a hammer is it feels so good when you stop.” To feel unburdened and happy, we sometimes have to feel the opposite way to appreciate it.

Over at the latest Glimmer Train bulletin, Carmiel Banasky writes about the connection between self-work and self-care. She writes:

We “surrender” ourselves to our art, T.S. Eliot wrote. I hate to argue with the Master, but I’m not sold on the metaphor of war that’s implied. Instead, I think of my dynamic with writing as the most equal relationship I’ve ever been in. There is a give and take. Sacrifice, yes, but not “a continual extinction of personality.” If writing means an increase of empathy, then it cannot mean the killing or erasure of the empathizer.

Read her full piece, “Do we become better people as we become better writers?

Also this month at Glimmer Train:

Posted in Creativity + Inspiration.
Jane Friedman

Jane Friedman

Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. She is the co-founder and editor of The Hot Sheet, the essential newsletter on the publishing industry for authors.

In addition to being a columnist for Publishers Weekly, Jane is a professor with The Great Courses, which released her 24-lecture series, How to Publish Your Book. She also has a book forthcoming from the University of Chicago Press, The Business of Being a Writer (March 2018).

Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as BookExpo America, Digital Book World, and the AWP Conference, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.

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4 Comments on "Learning to Practice Self-Care as Writers"

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[…] How do you balance work on your art with work on yourself?  […]

Christina Katz
I could not agree with Jane more. I was just discussing this (great minds and all that) in my monthly coaching call yesterday. Part of the problem, in my opinion, is the legacy of publishing. The power dynamic has historically been dramatically unbalanced in favor of the publisher. As publishing changes and becomes more accessible to all, we are seeing the conversation about self-care and writers crop up more and writers become interested in not sacrificing all for success. Now we don’t have to. And that’s a beautiful thing. Congratulations to Carmiel Banasky on the publication of her novel. I… Read more »
Louise Canfield

Thanks for the reminder. Hard to find the balance. You might like my recent post about this topic, “Get Under the Umbrella” on my blog; www:realsouthernwomen.com.

David Hartley Mark

Thanks for telling me the Alan Watts quotation; I thought it was my mother who originated it. I have been using Donald Murray’s advice about writing an hour here, an hour there, and letting the Stuff come, rather than sitting down and doing “it” all in a lump. Putting it into stolen moments among marking papers and other things seems to work, currently.

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