For many writers, life is a constant struggle. Those of us whose books remain unpublished after years of work doubt our ability to write and wonder why we started. Those who have found success fear with each book that their chain of success will be broken.
Many of us also struggle with depression. Many writers don’t make a living on their work and instead have jobs they hate–or at least jobs that don’t fulfill them but are necessary to pay the bills.
While I’m lucky enough to be working from home as a freelance writer, I’ve struggled with depression for years and I may not ever fully conquer it. But now I spend most of my time happy and enjoying life.
You may need something more drastic than anything on this list to change your life and bring you out of depression completely, but small, every day actions can make a huge impact on your life and how you feel on a day to day basis.
Before I start with the list, let me just say that you can conquer depression and you can be successful as a writer. Whatever challenges are in your way, with enough persistence and hard work, you can be successful. You may not be the next J.K. Rowling or Suzanne Collins, but you can be successful.
Until then, here are thirteen ways to improve your day — and your life:
1. Make time for movement. I’ve recently talked a little bit about how I’m building yoga into my daily routine. You can do yoga, martial arts, dance or just go for a brisk walk every day. Get your blood flowing and feel good about yourself.
2. Build meditation into your routine. Taking a few minutes every day to relax and completely let go of all life’s worries can make a huge impact on your mental health. You might also find that when you’re trying to clear your mind of everything is when you have the best novel ideas. I don’t meditate every single day, but I do meditate sometimes and I’m trying to make it part of my routine.
3. Stop comparing yourself to others. There will always be somebody richer, more beautiful, stronger, and more successful than you. There will also always be somebody poorer, less attractive, weaker, and less successful than you. Comparing yourself to others is a waste of time. Everybody has their own journey, and you’re better off focusing on yours than drawing comparisons.
4. Connect with other writers. You might love your normal friends and your family, but nobody will understand your writing woes better than other writers. They’ll often also be the ones cheering loudest when you find success.
5. Prioritize what makes you happy. If you spend a lot of time doing things to please others, it’s time to take time back for yourself. If you’re in a job you don’t really enjoy, you need to take steps to change that. If you’ve dreamed of being a professional writer since you were a child, you need to write regularly and submit often. Make sure you’re always working towards your goals and you’ll be much happier–even if you’re only working on them for half an hour every day.
6. Cut toxic people out of your life. The people around you have a huge influence on how you feel, whether you like to admit it or not. If somebody makes you unhappy almost every time you see them, it’s time to stop talking to that person. You don’t have to cut them off forever if they’re relatives you do care about, but taking a few months away to live your own life can be a huge relief.
7. Keep the space around you clean. Not perfect, of course, because nothing’s ever perfect and you should spend a lot more time writing than you do cleaning. But your desk shouldn’t be covered in garbage and the rooms you spend the most time in should be comfortable. You shouldn’t feel the nagging need to clean every time you’re writing or watching a movie.
8. Focus on your successes. It’s always important to examine failures and learn from them, but when you’re down it’s important to remember your success. When you hear about a writer who hasn’t written for half as long as you have who’s already famous, remember that you’ve accomplished a lot in your time, and that you have a number of stories all ready to be released when you do make it big. When you think about cousins who are working better jobs and making great money, remember the job you do have and the money you have made.
9. Read about amazing transformations. Reading about what other people have gone through often makes your own journey easier. It’s always good to know other people have been through similar struggles and have come out better for it. It’s especially good to know how many writers have gone from rock bottom to incredibly famous.
10. Get dressed every morning. Even if you work from home, you shouldn’t be working in your PJ’s all day. Taking a few minutes to get dressed and make sure you look good will build your confidence and make you happier throughout the day.
11. Schedule social time. As writers, especially writers with day jobs or school, it’s easy for us to become completely isolated. Your characters might be great company, but it’s not good for you in the long run. Make sure you get out at least every couple of weeks to socialize with people and maintain the friendships that are important to your life. Friends are everything — especially when you’re published and they’re buying your book.
12. Limit how much time you spend working. In the same vein as the last one, you don’t want to spend all your spare time writing novels. You still need time to read books you love, watch the occasional movie, go out for walks, and spend time with the people you care about. Odds are you have a couple other hobbies too. Don’t neglect them because you feel the need to be writing all the time.
13. Explore new creative mediums. Learn to paint, work with clay, play the drums, dance — whatever art you’ve always wanted to get into but felt you never had the time for. Take a class or learn on your own with the help of creative supplies and maybe a few Youtube tutorials. Exploring new mediums is a great way to overcome writer’s block. You might even discover a talent you didn’t know you had, and there’s nothing better for your self esteem than newfound talent.
Whether you struggle with depression or not, doing any or all of these things can drastically improve not just your day but your entire life. Many of these things are also best done on a daily basis but can still be immensely useful when only done on occasion. And if you’ve been paying much attention, there are some common themes.
What it all boils down to, at least for me, is exploring my creativity, controlling my time, and bettering myself. Make sure that your life is flowing in the right direction and your life will become significantly better.
What do you do when you’re having a bad day? What routines have you built that have improved your life? Please leave your answers in the comments below.