When February 14th rolls around, it’s a reminder to let certain people know that we love and cherish them. So, we buy chocolate, flowers, or go for a night out. Maybe we give the gift of time and make a favorite meal or dessert.
In reality, most of us don’t need a special day to show love to others. But we do need a reminder to show love for the one person we tend to forget about: OURSELVES.
Speaking of the L word, many of you know we are in a committed relationship with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs. We use it all the time to teach writers how to build stronger characters, arcs, and how to add meaningful conflict and stakes.
Well, if there were a hierarchy for a writer’s life, it might look something like this:
Feels, um, a little TOO accurate? Yeah, I thought so.
So this year, I say you should think about how to put yourself first by being your own Valentine. Start with some meaningful gifts.
Give yourself the gift of space.
We all live busy lives and can end up trapped within responsibilities and routines. We’re used to taking every spare moment and filling it with stuff that must be done – errands, fixing things, appointments. When do we have time to reflect on what we need, what we want to see for ourselves, and what will bring us more happiness and fulfillment?
So…back away from the to-do list and give yourself some space to think and reflect. We only get one kick at the can of life (unless reincarnation is a thing), so go for a walk in the park, take yourself on a picnic, or fill the bathtub with suds and lock the door. Turn your thinker to what small changes you can make to move toward a happier and more balanced you.
Give yourself the gift of time.
The Writer’s Pyramid shows how everything else tends to come first. After all, we love the people around us and want to make sure their needs are taken care of. But the constant merry-go-round of work, driving everywhere for school and activities, and all the other life stuff doesn’t leave us a lot for writing and other fulfilling goals.
So…be a little selfish with your time this February. Putting your needs and interests first for once doesn’t make you a bad person. Pausing things that can wait so you can make room for your writing and yourself is a healthy habit and teaches us to make choices about what’s really important. Plus, when you have more time for yourself and things personal to you, you’ll be happier and more energized.
Give yourself the gift of escape.
Forgive me, Stephen King, for I have sinned: I have become so busy I barely have time to read anymore. In fact, I may have moved that stack of books I bought out of sight so I wouldn’t feel guilty about what I wasn’t doing…reading.
If this sounds familiar, it’s okay. You aren’t alone. A busy life means reading fiction can end up on the back burner. But remember, we write because we love stories and want readers to escape into our realities. Reading is key to furthering our career and keeping our creative well filled.
So…let’s escape, too, and go on a book date. Pick up that trilogy you’ve been eyeing. Buy yourself your favorite sweets, a new flavor of tea, or whatever will help you unplug from everything and focus on the fictional realm. Give yourself permission to put everything else on hold and fall into a story world.
Give yourself the gift of help.
Writing is a lot of hard work and requires passion, perseverance, and grit. It can seem like we’re climbing a mountain that only gets higher as we learn what strong writing looks like and how to get our own story craft to that level. And while there’s a lot to learn, our community contains many experts who can help!
So…put resources in your toolkit that can help carry the load. You don’t have to do this alone.
As many of you know, Becca and I love making writing easier for everyone. We’ve spent over a decade creating a stockpile of writing resources — books, software, and a ton of free stuff here, here, and here.
Most associate us with our thesaurus books, but we also have One Stop for Writers, which is a virtual treasure chest of storytelling goodness.
You’ll find everything you need to build standout characters, fresh plots and stunning worlds. And if you like to use our thesaurus books as you write, you’ll be happy to know a much larger description THESAURUS Database is at the site.
If you’d like to check it out, try the 2-week free trail. Or, if you need more time, use our one-use 50% off Valentine code for the 1-month plan:
You’ll get one month of One Stop for less than $5.
There are so many great sites, blogs and tools out there to help you. Make use of the resources out there, so your job is a bit easier.
Give yourself the gift of grace.
Above all else, we want to see you get your books in the hands of readers and realize your writing dreams. Fulfillment is fuel, and when we achieve meaningful goals, we’re happier, more balanced, and optimistic. But writing a strong story and publishing it takes time, especially when we have a full life and other responsibilities.
So…take a moment to remind yourself that this isn’t a race, and you’re not competing with anyone. Publishing a book and having a successful career of doing what you love is about putting one foot in front of the other. Go at the speed that is right for you, not one that might lead to burnout. Be kind to yourself and remember: YOU’VE GOT THIS!
Finally, give yourself the gift of sleep.
Hit snooze more often, or sneak in a few naps. The world will not break apart if you take a bit more rest for yourself, I promise. 🙂
How are you taking care of yourself? Let me know in the comments!
Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, a portal to powerful, innovative tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.