Writing, Stress, and Self-Care

The end of 2016 was a very stressful period for a lot of people, and 2017 isn’t shaping up to be much better. This means that many of us are trying to get through our regular stressful days, squeeze in time for our writing, and deal with many new outside stressors. Many of us are struggling to find our words, to embrace our voices, to cultivate the creativity we thrive on for our passion.

I’m one of them. My 2016 ended with me very sick with a nasty virus for over two months, and I’m still struggling to get back to normal. During this time, I was working on my writing and trying to keep my words flowing. When I managed to arrive at a breaking point I pretty much crashed into a mindless haze. It has been one of the most challenging periods of my writing career thus far.

This is why self-care is so important. I tend to mostly read for pleasure, with very little TV watching. In my mindless haze I started binge watching shows on Netflix. At first, when I was really sick, I did so with very little enjoyment for myself. Then it grew into habit. In fact, a lot of non-productive behavior has grown into habit, and some of this is truly for the better.

Be kind to yourselves, writers. If the words take longer to appear on the page, let them take longer. If you need to turn off the internet and play a game or watch a movie, do it. We can’t create if we continue to maximize ourselves.

Prioritize your time. If you’re on a non-self-imposed deadline, do your best. If the deadline is yours? Let it slag if you need it to. But most importantly, know yourself. If you need that deadline to stay focused, then hold on. But keep your self-care in mind. Nights off, no matter who imposed the deadline, can be the best creative tool.

Above all, keep moving forward. Be proud of the words put on the page, even if they are only 100. Let yourself fall back into your words, or bleed them out.

Find your path. Find what works for you. Lean on your friends. The creative juices will come back, I promise you. They may need time, or pressure, or force. They may look and feel different than normal. But they are still there. They are still a part of you.

Be kind to yourself, I can’t stress that enough. And find a new normal that allows you to continue forward amidst the stress. I know you can do it. I believe in you.

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My Diverse Reads of 2016

This year, more than any other, I made a point to acquire more diverse books, and diverse authors. I have a lot more waiting on my TBR list, but of all the books I read, over 30% were diverse. Not good enough, but a step in the right direction.

To give diverse reads a little boost, here’s a listing of all that I read in 2016. I have separated the list between books I believe to be written by own voices, and books I believe are not.

OwnVoice:
BURNING BRIGHT by Megan Hart, K.K. Hendin, Stacey Agdern, Jennifer Gracen
THROUGH THE LENS by K.M. Jackson
TREASURE by Rebekah Weatherspoon
GETTING SCHOOLED by Christina C Jones
LOVE ON MY MIND by Tracey Livesay
OUT ON GOOD BEHAVIOR by Dahlia Adler
ROMANCING THE FASHIONISTA by K.M. Jackson
SUNSET PARK by Satino Hassell
ALONG CAME LOVE by Tracey Livesay
TATTOO ATLAS by Tim Floreen

Non OwnVoice:
MORE THAN COMICS by Elizabeth Briggs
THE YEAR WE FELL DOWN by Sarina Bowen
RIGHT OF FIRST REFUSAL by Dahlia Adler
RACING TO YOU by Robin Lovett
MORE THAN FASHION by Elizabeth Briggs
FALLING FROM THE SKY by Sarina Bowen

Some authors pop up more than once, because if I really love an author, I want to read more! All of these books I enjoyed. All of these authors I will check out again. With one exception (TATTOO ATLAS) all the books are also romances, ranging from New Adult to Adult.

So check them out, and see how many diverse books/authors you can read in 2017. My goal? At least half.