Today, we welcome the lovely and generous Laurie Schnebly Campbell. She’s at RU to chat with us about taking care of ourselves as writers. I don’t know about you, but I certainly need a mental health day every now and again!
Going to a spa is a wonderful luxury, like when wealthy young men toured the Continent and young ladies made their debut during the Season. Then everybody would go relax for a week or two at some posh, tranquil, uplifting health spa.
Writers need that kind of lift, too. But for us, the spa isn’t so much about getting some fresh air or drinking a new tonic. What WE need is a MENTAL health spa.
So…imagine we each get a free gift certificate for a day at the Mental Health Spa.
Of course, at any spa, there’s never enough time for everything you want. Sure, it’d be fun to arrive at dawn for a sunrise meditation session, followed by a full-body massage and Vichy shower and herbal detox and spa-cuisine lunch and a yoga stretch and lavender mani-pedi and Thai body wrap and a facial by the watsu pool…but, shoot, we only get one day!
That means browsing the spa menu to decide what sounds the MOST fabulous, and we’re all gonna choose different combinations. Everyone has their own Mental Health Spa favorites.
Sometimes it’s fun to see a few we might not have tried yet…maybe they’ll wind up in our toolbox.
We all whip out our toolbox of coping skills when we’re stuck with any problem. And some of the most common problems writers face are:
* Lack of time or confidence or support…
* Too many ideas or demands or expectations…
* Not enough energy or deadlines or motivation…
Anybody come up against any of these? (Hmm, yes, it appears so.)
So today, we’ll each get a personal spa consultant who’ll fix us up with what we need. Some of the specialties on our Mental Health Spa menu might include:
This is a handy tool anytime we’re faced with too many requests from editors or story ideas or contest deadlines or demands from family or co-workers or hobbies…it’s always good to ask about anything that comes along: How important is this?
“This” might be the new love of your life, it might be a bad review, it might be a dentist appointment, it might be a manuscript request…but no matter what it is, ask yourself: How important IS this?
That’s a good way to keep perspective, even if something momentarily feels like the end of the world, because there’s always a bigger picture to look at.
The spa menu offers fifteen different kinds of massage, but which is the best one? Swedish, ayurvedic, Shiatsu, aromatherapy, sports massage?
The good news is there IS no one best — no one best way to write a book, no one best way to find an agent, no one best way to build a career.
It’s fine to try new things, and it’s fine to hold onto those you especially like. (If you love the Soothing Aloe Wrap, nothing says you have to try the Adobe Clay Wrap.)
But the idea that there’s only One Best Way can mean winding up in a rut, or feeling like a failure when someone else goes a different way.
So no matter what’s worked for you in the past and what’ll work for your friend tomorrow, remember there’s never ONLY One Best Way.
Writers are always looking for better ways to do things, better ways to say things, and sometimes we’ll get mad at ourselves if we have a hard time changing.
The thing is, feeling guilty is pointless. “Oh, I want to give up chocolate but the Mother’s Day candy was on sale — I feel so guilty!” That guilt lets me keep eating the chocolate while still feeling like a Good Person. Win-win, right?
Don’t waste time with guilt. You KNOW you can make a change when you’re ready to do it…we’ve all done that; we’ve all made big changes in our life. And if some change isn’t quite happening, then set it aside. You can always try it again later!
“YOUR OWN LIFE”
This is a good one for people who think, like I do, “Oh, I wish I were as speedy as Nora Roberts” or “as versatile as Jayne Ann Krentz” or “as lyrical as Eloisa James” or “as witty as Susan Elizabeth Phillips.” We’d like to have that aspect of someone else’s life — but do we want their entire life?
No. I don’t actually want to BE Nora Roberts, because I don’t want HER kids and HER husband and HER parents, who’ve helped make her the person she is today. Even though I’m sure they’re all swell, I want my own.
So I need to remember that when I’m envying the person who got the yummy facial treatment or the gorgeous masseur…I can’t HAVE just that one part of her life, so I’d rather have my own.
And, scanning down to the end of our spa menu, we come to the happy-ending “LIFE LESSON.”
We’re all so good at creating happy endings for our characters, where they go through horrible turmoil and finally come away with a big wonderful realization like “The past is over; what matters is today and the future” or “I deserve to be loved for who I am.”
But when we come across great lessons like that in our own everyday life, we don’t always write them down.
So give yourself a notebook or a document on your computer or some way of recording things you like…memories that inspire you, lessons you’ve achieved. Keep them someplace you can refer back to whenever you need a little boost.
And every once in a while, give yourself time for a mental health spa experience. Make a cup of herbal tea, put onyour nice soft robe, light a candle that smells good, and re-read those life lessons. You’ll be hearing words of wisdom from someone who knows you better than any spa therapist ever will…yourself.
Now, you probably have some favorite Mental Health Spa treatments of your own. Will you share what might become ANOTHER writer’s new favorite?
Anybody who does will go in the drawing to win free registration to my May 31-June 24 class called “Plotting Via Motivation” (details are at groups.yahoo.com/group/PlottingViaMotivation/ ) — and I can’t wait to see more tips for our day at the spa!
RU Crew, tell us about your favorite “treatments” and be eligible to win Laurie’s class (I can personally attest that it’s a fab one!).
Stop by Thursday night for historical author Victoria Gray’s live chat and Friday for Theresa Stevens’ Ask an Editor monthly column!
Laurie Schnebly Campbell (www.booklaurie.com) grew up in a family that discussed psychology around the dinner table. With a marriage counselor for a mother, she felt well equipped to get her romance-novel couples to a happy ending…which might be what helped her win “Best Special Edition of the Year” over Nora Roberts.
The only thing she loves more than writing romance is working with other writers, which is why she now teaches an online class every month and has written a book for novelists who want to create believable characters with built-in fatal (or not quite fatal) flaws.
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- Weekly Lecture Schedule for May 16-20: Heidi Betts, Laurie Schnebly Cambell, Victoria Gray & Theresa Stevens
- Extra Credit! Winner of Laurie Schnebly’s Class Giveaway
- Challenging Couples in Love