On the Importance of Wellbeing, Sustainability & Perseverance for Writing

Today I’m writing about the importance of wellbeing, sustainability and perseverance. How each of these is necessary for writing, and how critical people are for each of those 3 areas.

It boils down to this:

  1. Nurturing established friendships + Developing new connections = Better life balance
  2. Wellbeing = Food & water + Sleep + Plants
  3. Sustainability = Mini Artist Dates + Activity planning + Outlines
  4. Perseverance and Resilience = No zero days


My main focus this year is emotional vulnerability. I am reserved by nurture, so I find it challenging to unlearn that. I am working on both nurturing established friendships and developing new connections. Refocusing my attention to achieve a better life balance, which values people more.

I find lists helpful for many aspects of my life, and this is no exception. Lists of friends are useful when I’m feeling unmotivated, lonely or depressed. I use them as a prompt to reach out and get in touch with people when my instinct is to hide away.

Support networks are vital for motivation and inspiration when I don’t want to write. For me, that includes close friends, workmates and other writers. I especially appreciate my Wrimo friends, because we can rally each other. We know what it’s like, what hurdles we’re jumping and what achievements are most dear to us.

On that note, want to join the club? 😏

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So… Who wants to join me for NaNoWriMo next month? 😁 Regardless of whether you think you can write 50K words in a month or not, giving it a try is a great way to write more than you currently do. November isn’t even here yet and I’ve still written more than I otherwise would have just preparing for it to start. Even if I do nothing else, I’ve already won in my book. So, who’s up for the challenge? It’s better together ☺️ ______ #Repost @nanowrimo • • • • • This week for #NaNoPrep, we’re encouraging you to #BYOWB (Bring Your Own Writing Buddy). Tag a friend you’d like to do #NaNoWriMo with this year! Now is the time to get your friends to join this wild writing adventure with you: new writers who sign up at nanowrimo.org this week will get a starter pack of digital resources and a 5% off coupon to the NaNo store! . . . #nanowrimo2018 #writingbuddy #writingbuddies #writersofinstagram #instawriters #writerslife #writer #writestagram #bookstagram #amwriting

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Food & water

I’ve been thinking about food. Foods I enjoy and that sustain me. Foods that work well for my body. Foods that are low time & effort. I have fatigue, so food is already something I try to make as stress-free as possible. Add NaNoWriMo to the mix, though, and it’s even more crucial.

One of the things I find helpful is lists. Lists of lunch and dinner possibilities, grocery lists, meal plans. I already eat the same thing for breakfast every day and I love it.

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Make sure you drink enough water. I’m serious. That’s another thing I try to drum into my brain. Especially this week, since I’ve not had access to tea as much. (I’m pretty good at drinking enough when I have my herbal teas to hand.) Water and sleep are essential and so often undervalued.


I made a list of ways to help myself to sleep more and to sleep better.

  • Drink sleepy tea:
    Camomile doesn’t do much for me, anything with valerian seems to help, lavender too. I like these ones: Heath & Heather Night Time tea, Sainsbury’s Bedtime tea, Sonnentor Wieder Gut! Eine Mutze voll Schlaf (It’s All Good! Sweet Dreams) tea
  • Smell lavender essential oil
  • Listen to Deep Sleep Meditation with Affirmations (Insight App)
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Need I say more?

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Mini Artist Dates

Artist Dates are 2 hours to do something you enjoy, for you and not for socialising. I’m working on how to have more of them, especially in November.

Something else I’m trying this week: mini Artist Dates. I’ve had an extra busy week for reasons out of my control. One lunchtime I visited the Tate Modern. I only had 10 minutes to spend there. I went to see the Magic Realism and Living Cities exhibitions. In that tiny amount of time, I had some great ideas for my story, with insights into my characters. Later in the week I happened to be passing an art gallery. When I saw what was on there, I went inside. I spent 45 minutes at Mind the Art: An Exhibition Raising Awareness of Mental Health through Art. Despite tiredness, I’m so glad I got to see this.

Activity planning

I have been planning my activities. It makes all the difference. I can tell straightaway if I’m on track with where I want to get to, and make adjustments along the way. I feel a sense of achievement, which further motivates me. I change the plan as often as I want or need to – no biggie.

I split the week into its 7 days, and each day into 3 chunks: Morning, Afternoon and Evening. Then I map out everything I have planned for that week. I look at the gaps to see what capacity I have for anything else or what I need to cancel to have a balanced week. It’s a technique I learned from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. I’ve put this into a spreadsheet, and it’s giving me a useful perspective.

spreadsheet with columns: Day, Date: Word goals, Morning, Afternoon, Evening, Words achieved, Notes

I track my daily progress so I can identify trends over longer periods of time, like a week or a month. It’s not about the progress on individual days. (Although I do aim to celebrate individual days when I achieve a lot.) It’s about the accumulation.


If you don’t usually plan stories, what I think you need to hear is what I needed to hear: Planning is vital. It’s not as important as writing, but it’s a very close second.

This week I completed the first draft of my novel using Jot, Bin, Pants. It’s such a simple method. It worked well for me as someone who hasn’t created an outline for fiction before.

I continued reading articles and watching videos about writing. Which led me to continue working on outlining. I am more and more confident that I’m planning a compelling story. So, more to come…

Perseverance and Resilience

Resilience and perseverance only work in the context of Wellbeing & Sustainability. Because on their own, perseverance and resilience are a recipe for burnout.

No zero days

Writing anything makes you a writer. So, if you’re struggling with novels or storytelling – write an article, write a poem, write flash fiction, write a diary entry, write a letter… Just write.

I hadn’t heard of this “no zero days” concept before. When I looked it up I realised it’s something I’ve been practising with my writing.

Every day, write *something*. It doesn’t have to be good. It doesn’t have to be long. It just has to be.

I find prompt challenges helpful for this. Because even if I write nothing else, I can write a few lines of poetry in response to a phrase. You can learn more about prompts and word sprints on the NaNoWriMo wiki. One thing I’m doing in Preptober is making my own list of prompts to help me in November. By the time November rolls around, the @NaNoWordSprints twitter will be in full swing.

One day I wrote:

does it count as a

if I just write

over multiple lines?

like this

Boom, done. Mission accomplished.

Which brings me to: You need to be willing to make bad art. Just like with Morning Pages, bad work is what enables good work. Ignore your inner critic and don’t let your censor hold you back.

Lemongrab from Adventure Time - a lemon sherbet cartoon figure. He has large eyes, a long & thin pointed nose and lots of tiny & sharp teeth. His catchphrase is 'Unacceptable!' and he's drawn here frowning, with the caption, 'THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE!!' Yellow Diamond from Steven Universe in a sharp and critical character who interrupts people and doesn't listen or respect them. She thinks she's superior to pretty much everyone else.

Portraits of my inner critic (Lemongrab) & censor (Yellow Diamond)

Writing even when I don’t feel like it, especially when I don’t feel like it, is what enables me to be prolific.

“Motivation isn’t the key — action is. You need action to get motivated, not the other way around.”

— Fayadh Ahmed, in The Concept of No More Zero Days and why Motivation is fleeting

This is the main concept that helped me out when I had depression. It’s hard to take action when I’m not motivated, but it’s necessary. It doesn’t need to be big, I just need to make it happen. Doing something, anything, builds momentum. It means I’m moving in the right direction. And I can see the truth of that when I have evidence that every day I’m working towards where I want to be.

More about non-zero days in Ryan’s comment on Reddit

Lots of other great ideas in the thread Jessica Rose started on Twitter

My goals: This week, next week

So, how did I do with my goals for this week?

✔️ Wrote & published this article ✍🏿
✔️ Completed the first draft of my novel using Jot, Bin, Pants 💯 so proud of myself on this one
✔️ Wrote poems using OctoberFalls18 Poetry Challenge prompts – I did this once
✔️ Identified challenge days in November. Made a plan 🙌🏿 I feel so much better about November now, whilst recognising the enormity of it 😅
✔️ Continued daily retrospectives of progress & what to change. Using activity planning for this now
❌ Write whilst commuting – I’m not on my usual commute. I’ve either not got a seat or worried I’ll miss my stop if I write. I did write at other times and other places 💪🏿

Here are my goals for next week:

🎯 Re-draft my outline using The Plot Embryo (A Hero’s Journey)
🎯 Write poems in response to OctoberFalls18 Poetry Challenge prompts
🎯 Write 500 words whilst commuting home on the bus
🎯 Publish article on my experiences of Preptober for NaNoWriMo

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A little reminder to check in with yourself and let go of anything that no longer serves you. Maybe it’s tension you’re holding in your body, maybe it’s a negative thought going round in your mind, maybe it’s feelings of guilt you’re carrying from yesterday or your whole life, maybe it’s old clothes, maybe it’s old beliefs about yourself or life that are making you miserable. Don’t be afraid to go within and find ways of freeing yourself! As humans we can get weighed down so quickly with physical and emotional “stuff” sometimes it’s not even just our own that we carry but that of those around us too, so consciously checking in is important. Oh and if you find yourself feeling like a failure or like you’re not doing it right because you’re having to let go of the same stuff more than once, it’s okay! We kinda let go in layers and we’re not perfect! Sometimes it will take a long time to learn or let go of something but every time you do it makes a little space for the new, it makes you feel a little lighter and makes it a little easier to let go the next time. Feel free to share if you’ve checked in and found some stuff to let go of! For me today it’s the need to rush, be perfect and also so mum guilt.. things I have to constantly let of constantly. You deserve your own love, care, compassion, understanding and forgiveness, sweet soul. Sending so much love your way 💖🌈🌼🦕🦄🌿🍄🔮☀️💜

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