Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

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December 30, 2019

New Year’s Reflections on Wellness and this Writer’s Life

by Kris (K.Maze)

It's the end of the year, past NaNoWriMo and the holidays, and a good time to reflect on our success.  I'm speaking of "success with intention."

I see "success with intention" like this: Even if your NaNoWriMo power streak broke as mine did, leaving me hopelessly short of the 50K goal, I still have more words to polish than I had before. And although my writing power streak broke, *I* didn’t.

It is important to me not to sacrifice my health to my writing.
All the success in the world means nothing if you can’t enjoy it.

Often, during the busy NaNo/holiday season, writers ignore their health. But, as I mentioned in my post about the Wellness Wheel for Writers, keeping your main writing tool — you — in shape is vital to any writer’s success.

As my New Year’s gift to you, I’ve provided five tips with resources to help you examine your physical well-being as we move into 2020. 

Tao Porchon-Lynch, at 101 years old, teaches yoga and dances competitively. This award-winning indie book author, TED Talk speaker, Guinness World Record holder, and wine lover shared her secret to a well-lived life with CBS. Her memoir, Dancing Light, draws upon her creative experience, and does so with grace and balance.

After showing off twirls with her 26-year-old partner, Porchon-Lynch tells the reporter her snippets of wisdom.

“Never put negative thoughts in the mind, because they go straight to the body.”

- Tao Pinchon-Lynch

Does your inner critic nag you about clunky or blasé wording? Are you concerned about cutting wide swaths of your beloved story or unsure where to start? 

Do you have…

Writer’s Block? 
Imposter Syndrome? 
Guilt over not hitting your writing goals? 

Perhaps we can relax knowing these concerns are part of what makes us dig in to perfect our writing. That feeling that our writing is not-there yet drives us to make better words. Words that inspire and teach.

Writers crave the flow of the creative experience.

When your writing feels more like dodging potholes on a gravel road, rather than zooming smoothly across the autobahn, consider these symptoms of your creative muse rectifying your inner drive.

“Know that the dance of life is inside you and that you should believe.”

Tao Pinchon-Lynch

The Physical Section of Our Wellness Wheel

With so much time in the chair, this is the part of the wellness wheel that gives many writers the most trouble. I have curated resources for tired wrists and aching backs. Below are some quick short and long term fixes. Browse through. And maybe try a few out.!

#1 - Sample online yogis from the comfort of home. 

Below are three YouTube Yogis I’ve found inspiring and helpful. There are others, so if the personalities or lesson are not at your level, do a search for other options.  Most of these yogis have a homepage with more videos, where you can support their work by subscribing or making a one-time donation. There are literally thousands of exercises available for free to keep us limber while we write our next break-out novel.

  • Yoga for writers with Adrian.
    • This yogi has a casual style that enables anyone to access their creative flow. Here is a session she created for writers. Her explanations are easy to follow and modify.
  • Yoga with Tim
    • Don’t be fooled by the title: “Yoga for beginners.” His ability to communicate the physiology of each pose is helpful for doing them correctly.  As a surfer, he also relates his videos to specific injuries. I like the way he orders the exercises in ways that don’t feel like work (until your muscles thank you later). 
  • Sarah Beth Yoga
    • Sarah Beth is a writer favorite due to her short online sessions that you can pick by 1) time you have and 2) what area of the body or stress you want to address.  This linked video shows a desk routine for writers.

#2 - Exercises for the hands.

This WebMD article explains how to strengthen each area of your hand with detailed pictures. Here is one of their quick relaxation tips:

If your hands and fingers feel painful and stiff, try warming them up before you exercise. This can make it easier to move and stretch. Use a heating pad or soak them in warm water for about five to 10 minutes. Or, for a deeper warmth, rub some oil on your hands, put on a pair of rubber gloves, and then soak them in warm water for a few minutes.

#3 - Play with clay.

Clay can increase your range of motion and strengthen your hands. Plus, it’s cathartic to revisit your inner child or to invite a kid or two to join you. You may reignite your muse while squishing little clay balls and creating long snakes.

#4 - Redesign your writing space to better suit you.

Ellen Buikema explored this in her post last week and the secret for her was Feng Shui. Not sure what your workspace needs are? This link will take you to an insightful questionnaire and a few experiments to try.

#5 - Create a desk exercise routine with these simple exercises.

Here is a graphic with everything you need.

Does your writing cause physical ailments? What solutions have you found to resolve them? What would you like to change in the coming year?

* * * * * *

About Kris

Kris Maze is a writer of essays and speculative short fiction.  Her YA sci-fi will be released in June of 2020. More information can be found at her website

A recovering grammarian and hopeless wanderer, Kris enjoys reading, playing violin and piano, and spending time outdoors with her family. She also ponders the wisdom of Bob Ross.


16 comments on “New Year’s Reflections on Wellness and this Writer’s Life”

  1. Thanks for these tips, Kris. I especially love the hand exercises. Yesterday, I spent most of the day on my computer, and my hands really felt it! They definitely need some strengthening (after I relax them, of course.) Happy New Year!

    1. Hi Karen,
      Glad you appreciated these. Writing is actually physically taxing in addition to mentally and emotionally draining if you don't take care, right? Have a Happy New Year!

  2. I do hand exercises because of my arthritis. If I don't do some stretching or alternate motion, my fingers don't like to work after a while. One way I deal with this is I usually have a guitar or some other stringed instrument (right now it's a ukulele) within reach. It servers two purposes--alternate motion and something to keep my hands busy when I'm thinking. Music also helps to relax me and get my creative juices flowing.

    1. Hi Bob,
      I love that you use a musical instrument to keep the creative juices going. When we write we tend to stay in one position which leads to the aches and pains. Keeping our bodies happy can lead to better writing sessions, and we all hope for that!

  3. My wrists tend to suffer a lot, and I know some of that is tension from my hands. I think a piece of it is the carpal tunnel I had throughout my pregnancy. The carpal tunnel is gone, but the weakness from it is challenging. I often use a lacrosse ball for my hands, feet and back. Just the act of putting weight on the ball relaxes the muscles around it. It's been super useful for defusing the muscle spasms around my hips (sacroiliac joints). The piriformis stretch is miraculous for lower back pain as well.

    1. Hi there,
      Using a lacrosse ball is a good idea as well. There are other cool options like foam rollers and items like a spiky massage ball can be useful on the back. No one likes to dig into writing when they have additional pain. Happy Writing, Jenny!

      1. They are awesome for muscle relaxation, Denise!

        PRO TIP: Tape two together with duct tape, then use them across your spine to relax the muscles of your back without damaging your vertebrae. That tip is from the Breaking Muscle blog, which the hubs follows.

  4. Awesome exercises for the back! I tend to sit too long at a stretch. Squishing clay is one of the suggestions an Occupational therapist gives. It is wonderful exercise to stretch the hand muscles.
    Tao's quotes are profound. Great post.

    1. Hi Ellen,
      It's also just fun to squish clay! I dig into my kiddo's squishy toys she hoards when I'm working over a writing edit or creative hump, too.
      Thanks for your comments.

  5. Thanks for this! I'm definitely going to check out the yogis. I stop every 20 minutes to a half hour and do a stretching routine, so I'll incorporate some of the desk stretches you illustrate. Because I'm a hunt-and-peck typist whose hand position is never the same for longer than two seconds, I don't suffer from carpal or other wrist, finger issues. I plan to have my butt in chair every day so all these suggestions are invaluable to keep me pain free!

    1. I'm glad to hear you can use the stretches! I haven't had medical reasons to need the hand exercises, but it could be that I keep myself moving!
      Most of the yogis are doing a 30 day challenge due to the beginning of the year. I'm trying one now. Anything that works, right?

  6. I love this article Kris- I have had some serious health issues (more like shots across the bow) that are all related to my "writer lifestyle". I worked hard in 2019 to reverse some of the effects of my body abuse and the results have been obvious- As I slide into 2020 I am going to build a lean, healthy, happy, successful, and creative machine- my body. It is time to reverse all the crap I have done to it. It is not too late- and already my family does not recognize me- and that's a good thing.

    1. That's amazing, John, and it's paying off! It's motivating to me also to see others do well. Keep going and enjoying the benefits in 2020.

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