Self love is something that took me a long to really understand. I first heard about self-love while working in a college dorm when I was 19 and, after years of thinking the values of humility and selflessness were all there was, the idea of self-love sort of went against everything else I had heard before.
I started to test out different practices, like meditation, mindfulness, journaling, forgiving myself, extending grace to others, being honest about what I wanted and what I felt.
It sounds silly, but I had to credit this new discovery of self-love as being an anchor for my writing. It became the thing that always helped me write!
Without a healthy bit of self-love, I wouldn’t be as in tune with myself, wouldn’t be as empathetic to others (or my characters!), and wouldn’t be as aware of the rest of the world as I am. Which all enables me to be a better writer.
When you listen in on people’s conversation on the bus attempting to be mindful, you can get some really good fodder for dialogue!
Just recently, I had set aside a day to write. This was a get shit done sort of day. I had my goal list, my to-do list, my what-to-do-if-I-had-spare-time list. I was all set. I dove in and breezed through a few blog posts and a bit of planning for TLWB.
And then I got the text. A good friend wanted to know if I’d be spontaneously free to hang out.
I hadn’t seen this friend in a while. We had both been busy and our schedules just hadn’t lined up. And I did have the entire day off after all.
I sat at my desk staring at my phone, wondering if I should go or if I should stay. I weighed the options in my head, saying it’d only be an hour, I’d get right back to work when I came home, I hadn’t seen her in a while.
I also had already made so much progress. I wanted to make even more progress. I wanted to whip out a few more blog posts, create a few more plans, work on my novels, do some character development, and spend a bit of time with myself.
I always make time for that though. The progress is slower sure, but I still get those things done on a daily basis! Plus I felt the twinge of guilt for thinking of saying no…I’m a born and raised Seattle girl. Apparently, Seattlites can’t say no…
I knew that if I went and saw her, I’d lose my momentum and wouldn’t pick it back up again, regardless of what I told myself. I’d be less productive the rest of the day. And I would lose those precious trains of inspiration that I’d been following all day. I knew I wouldn’t end up working on my book at all or planning as far ahead as I wanted. And let’s be real…I wouldn’t just see her for an hour.
So I said no. We figured out a different time, and I proceeded on with my day. Guilt-free.
And my day was the better for it. Here’s why:
I gave the attention to the thing that was most important to me.
That day was set aside as a serious, get shit done sort of day, and I wanted that time, that space, that reason to just sit and write and plan all day long with no distractions or chores or friends or anything.
So I took the necessary steps to protect that space. I knew that by honoring what I wanted and needed in that moment would be far better for me, my goals, and my future, than spontaneously seeing my friend.
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE spontaneous get togethers, but when I’ve set aside the time to #girlboss, you should just trust that my phone is probably on airplane mode and I’ll get back to you tomorrow. Lesson learned.
We as a society find self-love to be difficult…setting aside time JUST for ourselves and our projects. It can be seen as selfish, or narcissistic. Like you’re robbing friends and family of time with you or your job of your skills or your kids of your awesome parenting. And those are all valid concerns.
But how many of us can say (introverts, you’ll really get me here) that a little time to ourselves, helps us be better friends and employees and parents? Taking some time for our own projects and passions and hobbies can make us better husbands and wives and managers and partners!
Sometimes this means rainchecking the friend who really wants to see you for a long brunch, or letting your kids watch a second movie, or taking your entire hour long lunch break for yourself.
And it’s ok. It’s called prioritizing. It’s called giving attention to where it most deserves. It’s called self-love.
Rain checking with my friend helped me be a better writer and a more productive #girlboss. But it made me a better friend too, because I wasn’t worried about finishing my to-do list when I next hung out with her.
Because I didn’t divide my attention, everything in my life benefited.
Don’t get caught in the trap of thinking you can’t take time for yourself. Don’t think you can’t spend an extra hour on your book while your kids watch a movie. Don’t think you can’t start your blog because you “don’t have enough time”.
Be careful and generous with the time you have and someway, somehow, it will seem like you always have enough.
How do you take care of your writing life? I’d love to know in the comments!