We bring more than just our brains to our desks

We writers have so many excellent writing resources at our fingertips now, and yet I often need to remind myself of a few basics I was more likely to hear about in public health classes than in writing workshops:

  1. Water! So basic, and yet I under-drink it, forgetting that a brimming glass of it stands right beside my elbow. One or two cups of coffee, a few hours, and then it’s no surprise I feel the low, foreboding thrum of a headache surfacing. Hydration keeps the ink flowing, and we are united in our need of it.

I Told the Water” by Tarfia Faizullah

2) Care for the body. Our minds are so impacted by our guts and the condition of the bacterial communities living in us, to name just a few things. I remind myself all the time how my brain is not separate from my body; my work is better when I sleep, when I take little stretches throughout the day, when I give my heart and muscles something non-sedentary to do for at least 30 minutes a day, and when I eat well. These are not easy, simple practices–they feel easy to put off, and my body does not rebel, not immediately, at least, if I ignore it for a while. But even if my body seems to wait patiently for me to notice it, it is actually my collaborator, and so I think a strong writing practice is built through a respectful relationship with one’s own body.

Question” by May Swenson

3) Treats! I play so many tricks on myself, and one of them is the trick of tiny rewards. I’ve found they work as well as large ones, and sometimes even better. Something as simple as an extravagantly colorful plate of French toast can feel like an excellent celebration–for finishing a manuscript, perhaps–if I’m willing to enjoy it fully for what it is. So when I am struggling (and when are none of us struggling?) I envision a parade of small, intentional treats, like a string of fairy lights marking the horizon.

Heston Services” by Sarah Westcott