I recently had my annual physical checkup. Perhaps it is because I am heading to official senior-dom in August, but I was given or scheduled for a bunch of tests I’ve never had before. They also drew blood, weighed and measured me (I’ve shrunk in height but, unfortunately, not in weight). I left the office feeling good that I’d done what I could to keep myself healthy.
This made me think about how our creative work, our writing could use an annual (at least) check up as well. Have you done one in the last 12 months? If you haven’t, then maybe it is time to do one for yourself and look at the following:
• Bone health. Your bones hold you up, provide the internal structure for the muscles and blood and organs to do their work. Otherwise you would just be a pile of…well, goo in a skin sack. In your writing, your bones are your commitments and the habits and discipline that help you follow through on those commitments.
• Blood health. The air you breathe and the food you eat nourishes the blood that nourishes your body. The body of your writing also requires nourishment through all aspects of yourself. Exercise, sleep, good food help the physical you, but nourishment in the form of reading, meditating or dreaming, working with oracles, and keeping a journal are also important.
• Muscular health. The muscles of your body move you from place to place, position to position. Without muscles, you’d go nowhere. Think of your goals, dreams, story ideas, and deadlines as your writing muscles. They have to be exercised, strengthened daily.
• Heart health. Like the other organs of the body, the heart is critical to survival. It’s critical to the survival of writing as well. A healthy heart means a regular rhythm, your regular rhythm. The heart of your writing also needs a regular rhythm; it may vary from time to time but words need to pulse onto paper or screen in a regular rhythm, the beat that goes on, that denotes creative life.
I know I’ve stretched the metaphor a bit, but you get the point. You need to give your writing life a regular checkup for it to stay healthy and active. So take time for a checkup with these diagnostic questions:
1. What is your commitment to your stories, your writing, your writing career?
2. What are you doing to nourish your imagination, to keep your writing blood healthy and pumping, your words flowing?
3. What is your reason for writing?
4. What goals, dreams or visions pull you forward to keep writing even when there is no promise of a contract or reward at the end of the project?
5. What daily, weekly or monthly goals do you set to give you something to move towards?
6. How do you reward yourself for your hard work?
7. What do you do to keep your writing rhythm regular?
Use these questions to keep your writing and writing life healthy.