Writer in Residence

Tweet Tweet: Self-Care for Writers

By Chelene Knight


@poetchelene “It's time to take a self-care hour! #amwriting #projects”

People keep saying that they see me everywhere. How do you do all of this? Great question, I have no idea, but I do know how to look forward to the little things and put my own mental health at the top of my priorities list.

“We have to take care of ourselves!” I think this statement is pretty relevant now that I am running two literary festivals, a magazine, an online course, writing a third book while promoting my second, and making sure my son is taken care of. I know this seems like a lot, but I have been trying to put a lot of focus into my own self-care. I also respect that self-care may mean something different to different people. For me, it’s about taking a few minutes to separate myself from my computer and my phone and just exist. Just breathe.

“Mistakes can happen and no one is going to die.” Another thing I tell myself when things aren’t going as planned or slowly start to tumble downhill. I for one am all about giving myself as much credit as I can. If you don’t lift yourself up, don’t expect anyone to do it for you.

It also really helps me to let folks know what I am working on. You’ll often find me on social media talking about the block of cheese I just bought and then ate, or how I have been staring at my blank computer screen and the blinking cursor has been taunting me for hours. But it’s these small connections coupled with this desire and need to reach out that can pull me through the toughest of currents. Sharing these little tidbits of information reminds me that I am not in this alone and that no matter how busy and hectic things get (kind of like it is right now) that there are things I can do to remind myself of who I am and why I’m doing this. Why do we write, anyway? To share our stories.

Some folks who hear the word “writer” tend to paint this fantastical image of someone sitting at a desk for hours, in some wood cabin while staring out a window dreamily. Oh wouldn’t it be cool if this were true? Most of the time we are running to events, helping to promote our own books, teaching, editing, speaking on panels, and more. Ah the life of a writer. Where’s that damn log cabin?

So yes, self-care is absolutely essential to continuing to do big things and not burning out. It’s important that I share this with newer writers who feel like they have to say yes to everything. I also think it’s important to share this with established writers who forget to take time out for themselves.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book.

Chelene Knight was born in Vancouver, and is currently the Managing Editor of Room Magazine. A graduate of The Writers’ Studio at SFU, Chelene has been published in various Canadian and American literary magazines. Her debut book, Braided Skin, was published in 2015. Dear Current Occupant is her second book. Chelene is also working on a historical novel set in the 1930s and 40s in Vancouver’s Hogan’s Alley.