Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Writer Wednesday: Six Steps To Sanity Every Author Needs To Know

Every writer goes through ups and downs, but I find that during those down times we are able to further refine our craft and learn about ourselves the most.Thus the reason I have come up with the six steps to sanity when writing is making you crazy, or as I like to put it six steps to sanity when writing makes you want to bang your head against the wall and cry. 

As a part time counselor I can honestly say that I have built my life around “steps” to sanity for my kids at school as well as for myself when I’m writing. In fact I’m a huge fan of lists just because it gives me a reference point, so in honor of counseling and writing I have put together a no fail list on how to stay sane.

Number 6: Laugh at yourself. Some say that laughter is the closest you will ever get to insanity. I am a firm believer that every single human being flirts with a very thin line when it comes to being sane and insane. Have you ever laughed so hard you cried? Or maybe you’re the type of person that laughs by yourself then gets really self conscious because there’s nobody there to watch you? Or how about this, you’re having a rough day, you see the Starbucks sign and immediately feel a little laugh tear come to your eyes because, yes the green sign is on and yes Starbucks is in fact open and what’s that? Oh they know your name! Yes…Laughter, it heals all, and it’s good for the soul. Plus I have it on good authority that it helps you burn more calories. Well laughing and kissing are actually tied, but it’s probably not socially acceptable to go around kissing everyone you see…or maybe it is. Check back with me later.

Number 5: Eat. This one is actually quite simple. The first thing I do when I get emotional is count back to the last time I ate. As a writer its super easy to get so immersed in your story that you actually forget to feed your body. The opposite is also true; to overindulge on Krispy Kreme donuts because you’re story isn’t turning out how you want it to. Food is fuel. If you have no fuel you aren’t going to be writing your best and if you have the wrong fuel you might fall asleep at your computer with jelly donut on your face. And nobody wants to see that. That’s just sad. Eating carbohydrates is the easiest and quickest way to alleviate anxiety and depression as long as you control the urge to finish the entre loaf of bread or box of cookies.

Number 4: Don’t be OCD. This is like asking many authors not to breathe. I get that, trust me I really get that. Many of us obsess over our stories to where we actually end up believing the characters are real. Case in point after watching a few episodes of your favorite TV show you wake up in the middle of the night concerned over the shows main characters and if they will or will not end up together. Don’t laugh you know you’ve done it, we all have. You’re characters are real to you yes, and they are important, but don’t’ get so obsessed with them that you lose touch with reality. If this is something you’re not sure you struggle with then do a little test. If you find yourself in tears over what’s happening in your story more than five times a day, you need to back off, or if you go consume an entire box of ice cream because your main character dumped his girlfriend, yes you are too emotionally involved. Put the ice cream down and walk away. The point is, we all get obsessed, know your limits and know when it’s time to take a breather. Some of the best stories are the ones that are written without being re-read and edited. I know some of my best writing moments have been the times I wasn’t planning on writing anything spectacular.

Number 3: Take a compliment, especially when it’s deserved. It has been ingrained in our brains since childhood to never, ever take compliments. Society tells us that if we take a compliment and say thank you that we are in fact being conceited. Women are the worst at this. Someone compliments us and immediately the first thing we do is either downplay the compliment or give a compliment back to the person who just showered us with praise. I am here to say it’s okay to be great. It’s okay to be awesome. If someone says you’re a good writer, give yourself a high five and let it make your day! Don’t sit there and make excuses about the person giving the compliment, “oh they’re just being nice,” or “they must have read my book after drinking too much wine.” STOP! Let yourself be wonderful! If you are published you are published for a reason. Don’t hide your light just because you feel like you don’t deserve to shine.

Number 2: Write through it. We all get writers block and most of the time when we do get writers block we get really hard on ourselves. It’s normal to get it and its even more normal to get stuck in it because you start stressing yourself out. Think of writing as a running. You have a goal you want to reach as long as you keep running you’ll reach it. The same goes for writing, keep your goal in mind and just keep writing even if it’s one or two sentences, eventually you will go faster and you will reach your goal in time.

Number 1: Surround yourself with positive people. Nothing brings me down more than a negative person. Negative people are like leeches they suck all the life and happiness out of you especially if you are a happy person. Happy people can’t help but give off happy vibes meaning sometimes they attract negative people who need happy people to make them feel better about themselves. When you are writing you are very vulnerable because writing is a very personal thing. Make sure that those who critique your work are not people that are looking for ways to put you down. We become who we surround ourselves with so if you don’t like the company you keep sooner or later you won’t like your own reflection.  Humans are social creatures; we feed off of other people’s energy. One thing I’ve noticed about Astraea press authors is how positive and encouraging they are to one another. Never take that for granted. Hold on to it and let it rub off on you so you can in turn be an encouragement to other people.

And there you have it, my six steps to sanity. Very practical, some very elementary, but useful nonetheless in helping you on your journey to writing!

Amanda turned down Preston's prom invitation in front of her entire high school, but that was eight years ago.
Somehow, her past mistakes always have a way of catching up with her, and making her pay. Amanda's sarcastic wit mixed with Preston's insufferable ego make sparks fly in more than one way.
Preston, against his better judgment can't fight the desire to get under Amanda's skin and mercilessly tease her, but when that teasing becomes flirting, and flirting becomes something dangerously more, neither of them are prepared for the adventure that follows.

Thank you Rachel for sharing those tips for sanity. I think these can apply to other areas as well.  Now check out Rachel Van Dyken's debut novel, Every Girl Does It,  with Astraea Press releasing soon.


  1. Great post! I agree with everything you've said. Nice to know I'm not insane...yet! Also love the book blurb, it sounds intriguing. I'm going to have to buy it.

  2. 1 and 6 ARE SO important. I love to laugh, so that one's easy. But I think it's VERY important to have positive people in your life.

    Really great post...

  3. WOW! Awesome! Thanks lady. Great post!

  4. Impressive! Especially number 1. I know some people who're negative all the time, and they just suck the life out of you.

  5. Absolutely wonderful and true! I love the surround yourself with postive people part. It's easy to get sucked into others insecurities and we call those people the black hole of need! What a wonderful post! :)

  6. some very wise words in that post! thank you