This Writer's Life

Are You a Highly Sensitive Writer?

In last weeks post, I talked about not having to concern ourselves with things outside our control and concentrate on what we can control. As much as we can control our efforts towards our writing, we can also learn ways in which to focus on our physical and mental well-being.

For insecure writers, like myself, we have to undertake some form of balancing act when it comes to our mental health. We need to step out of our comfort zones occasionally and meet fellow writers, so that we don’t feel so alone, and yet, if we overdo it, rather than be a help, it can sometimes become a hinderance. We may begin to compare ourselves to others, feel inadequate and believe in that little voice in the back of our heads that tell us we’re not good enough. We then become reclusive and can sometimes get depressed. It’s a vicious cycle that doesn’t necessarily get helped by social media.

Last year I learned I’m a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) and therefore I need to switch off more often than others. I tend to keep away from social media and avoid people both on-line and in the real world from time to time. I’m not being elusive or a snob, I’m doing it for the sake of my mental and physical well-being. There are times when we may need to switch off, avoid all the noise and appreciate the silence. So, I can really relate to this image.

And yes, I’m fully aware of how strange it may sound that a Highly Sensitive Person can also be a paranormal writer. Perhaps being Highly Sensitive is what helps steer me towards my interest in the paranormal in the first place. Maybe this is what helps me to pick up on certain things within haunted places when others cannot.

I have spent a lifetime believing there was something wrong with me, always labelled as ‘different’, but it’s good to know I am not alone in the way I see the world. Being highly sensitive is completely normal; it’s a trait and means that we’re observant, not weak.

If you think you may be a Highly Sensitive Person, you can do this on-line test by Elaine R Aaron, author of The Highly Sensitive Person.

Are you a Highly Sensitive Person? Do you often feel the need to get away from social interactions in order to recharge your batteries? What kinds of things do you do to help your mental well-being?

Main Image courtesy of Pixabay

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Writing · Writing Process

5 Things Writers can do During Winter (Besides Writing).

It’s hard to believe we have made it to June already. June! Here in Australia, we are now officially in winter, so it’s the season where people like myself usually act like a complete hermit and hibernate for the entire three months.

We are now halfway through the year and it’s time to take stock on what has (or hasn’t) been achieved so far this year. Going over the goals I set out at the beginning of the year, I can see I have a lot of work to get through. So, besides writing, what exactly can writers do during the cooler months to improve their craft and help achieve their writing goals?

1. Read

This one goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway (after all I haven’t done much reading myself this year). 😉 When not writing, we writers should spend a fair amount of time with our noses firmly placed in a book, whether that is fiction or non-fiction. In order to improve our craft we should always aim at reading books on how to make our writing better, or perhaps even read books on marketing and social media. Reading as much fiction as possible in our chosen genre/genres ensures we are aware of our genres tropes and what is currently available on the shelves.

2. Research

Doing research for our novels and stories can either be conducted in our own homes, or we can use the excuse to leave our writing caves and visit the local library. Depending on our stories, we may even venture out completely and visit places of note that may inhabit our novels and perhaps take photos and talk to experts.

3. Do a short writing course

It is always beneficial to keep improving our craft, no matter what level we are at. Short courses can sometimes be held through writing groups and libraries and even on-line. Take stock of your strengths and weaknesses as a writer and take up a course that may be of help, or you may want something a bit more general. For a while now I have considered doing the online Masterclass with James Patterson and will be doing that during these winter months.

4. Listen to podcasts

The advantage of podcasts is that you can listen to them anywhere. So getting away from your desk and having a walk while listening to a writing podcast can be extremely beneficial in more ways than one. There are quite a few good writing podcasts out there, it’s impossible to list them all. You will find a listing here at Writer’s Digest to help get you started.

5. Attend a Writing Conference/Writing Retreat

Attending a writing conference or retreat during the winter months is a great way of getting out of our writing cave and meeting like-minded people as well as recharging our batteries as enthusiasm can sometimes wane during the cooler weather. If there is nothing available nearby, perhaps you can create your own retreat by going away for a quiet weekend and use that change of scene to get some writing done. This is the time when the thought of being nestled away in a log cabin by an open fire can hold some appeal.

Of-course, doing these things can be done all year round, but in the cooler weather, we may need a little bit of motivation in order to keep us going. 😉

Besides writing, what do you like to do during the winter months towards your goals? How are your writing goals progressing so far this year? Do you have a tendency to hibernate during winter?

Image courtesy of Pixabay

This Writer's Life · Writing

Being a Writer: Me, Myself & I.

BuddhaAs writers, we are often told that writing is a solitary pursuit, and in recent months I have begun to feel that more than at any other time. Despite my husband working 95 kilometres (59 miles) away, I have learned to adjust, yet for the past couple of months he has started a new position that takes up so much of his time, I hear less from him than ever before. Learning to adjust to this current situation is a lot harder to come to terms with.

Almost twelve years ago, my husband and I moved out here to the country to make our ‘tree change’ – a slower, quieter pace of life to get away from the hectic, stressful life of living in the city. For the most part it has worked, and the solitude has been idyllic for the writer in me, but as a person, in need of company sometimes – well, maybe not so much.

During my last days in sixth class (yes, I can remember that far back), my teacher wrote me a short note stating: Silence is Golden – it was wonderful having you. I have never forgotten this message simply because it taught me these two things:- that I was appreciated for who I was and that silence is not such a bad thing after all.

I have always been the quiet one; the one my mother always labelled as being ‘different’ from my older sisters; the one who had a close circle of friends but jumped every time another kid spoke to me; the one who was happy to be on their own within their imaginary worlds rather than play with her sisters. Becoming a writer was inevitable.

These days in a busy world where noise is the norm and everyone is expected to work above and beyond what a human being is capable of, we need some time out for ourselves. Lately, I’m finding myself more ‘inward looking’, yet the advantage is, it is a perfect situation for writing. Spending quality time alone allows you to focus and determine your goals. Silence teaches you that if you really want to be a writer, you have to learn to get used to it and appreciate what it can do for you. As writing is a solitary profession, we need to learn to be comfortable with ourselves.

Keeping quiet also makes for good listeners, which is important for writers. Not only can we pick up on ideas for stories, it also gives us the opportunity to listen more to our characters and the stories they wish to tell. For now, I need to learn to make the most of this situation. Without trying to sound like a complete crackpot, I need to finally give a voice to these characters and their stories. After all, it’s the quiet ones you have to watch! 😉

As a writer, have you learnt to embrace the solitude? What do you do to help break the silence? Would you prefer to have more time alone in order to help you write?

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