Posted On May 18, 2011 by Print This Post

Mental Health Spa with Laurie Schnebly Campbell

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!

Welcome, Laurie!

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!  


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 ) — 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’s Bio:

Laurie Schnebly Campbell ( 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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96 Responses to “Mental Health Spa with Laurie Schnebly Campbell”

  1. Hi Laurie!

    So good to have you back at RU. Love your tips. The only spa treatments that are working for me right now is putting the blinders on and sprinting toward the finish line. I can’t let the other riders, er, noise sway me from my course. There is a lot of white noise in the publishing industry.

    My other spa treatment is Adrienne and Kelsey. They have a way of rejuvenating my spirit and kneading away my troubles. They’re the best spa treatment *wagging eyebrows* I’ve ever had.


    Posted by TraceyDevlyn | May 18, 2011, 4:35 am
    • Now that makes my day! You’re the best. Besides, you know all Kels and I need is a semi-good reason to put on our devil horns and take up your cause!

      Posted by AdrienneGiordano | May 18, 2011, 7:43 am
    • Tracey, the blinders are a great idea! (As is having friends who provide the best spa treatments EVER. 🙂 In fact, I remember reading that until the last decade or so, stress tests were normally done solely on men — because popular belief was that men suffered more stress — and all the advice about “eat right, get lots of rest, etc” was predicated on male hormones.

      Then scientists learned that women under stress do much better when they gather with other women…which they probably would’ve noticed a lot sooner if they’d just looked around at people like us!

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 18, 2011, 8:25 am
  2. Hi Laurie,

    A few years ago (when I actually had a few free minutes), I used to be able to blend writing with my other responsibilities. I can even remmber a time when I pushed a lot of things aside to write. Your “How Important” made me remember this. I don’t have any answers right now. You know that my other responsibilities are more important. But they can make you forget how to write. I did a small, first-draft segment that I wasn’t going to send in for an editor critique. When there were still spots available, I tried it. Even with no time to revise, I got a very favorable impression from that editor. It made me stop and think about whether I should stop writing. But even that can’t counter the “How Important” responsibilities.

    The only thing I seem to have luck with is inspiration from my classes. When I get an idea, I do put it in a file. That’s how the plot is coming together. Eventually the bits and pieces will fall into line and I’ll know where I’m going. Sometimes, in a tough situation, it’s the only thing that works for me. As well as keeping up with my friends and favorite authors latest publications. While it makes me feel sad that I’m leaving myself behind, it also gives me hope for someday.

    Excellent blog. It certainly made me think and re-evaluate.

    Writers Conferences used to be a good way for me to get inspired and rejeuvenated. Lectures gave good ideas, and it was nice to meet with other authors. And I’d always come home with books of all types.


    Posted by Darlene | May 18, 2011, 4:53 am
    • Darlene, great tips on collecting inspiration from classes and keeping a file — once your other responsibilities lessen, you’ll be all set to dive into what you’ve already gathered.

      And, boy, you’re right about conferences as well…what could be more invigorating than getting immersed in a whole group of writers from all over? Not to mention taking home those wonderful new books!

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 18, 2011, 8:29 am
    • Darlene –

      I went through a time where life took the pole position in front of writing, so I know how frustrating and disheartening it can be. I’m no expert, but the best thing I can tell you is: “Forgive yourself.” Forgive yourself for not moving your writing forward at this time in your life, and just pick it up where it is (not where you think it should be) when the time is right.

      It took some things falling into place and life coaching to get me back “on track.” If you’re interested, feel free to read about some of my trials 🙂 here:


      Posted by KelseyBrowning | May 18, 2011, 10:27 am
  3. Great advice, Laurie, and great reminders. As a ‘spa’ treatment for myself, I set aside one day per week to do all the things I didn’t do while I was writing or thinking about writing. It not only clears my mind and space but also lifts some of the guilt I feel over not getting as involved as I could/should in everyday things unrelated to writing. The family has gotten so used to this that they know the day after the day the house is tidied and they actually get to eat three times, is going to be MY day. It works. And in the process, they’ve learned how to ration their own food.

    Okay. So it’s not THAT bad. But that guilt thing you mention sure does make it seem that way.


    Posted by Debora Dale | May 18, 2011, 6:19 am
    • Debbie, hurray for your family learning how to ration their own food (LOL).

      You’re doing them a wonderful favor, showing the kids that when THEY grow up and become a mom or marry a mom-to-be, mothers deserve their own life and their own space amidst all the family care.

      It’s not like you’re throwing ’em on the streets to starve, but you’re providing a great lesson for later in life — and at the same time, doing a favor for YOU as well as for them. Good thinking!

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 18, 2011, 8:32 am
    • Debbie –

      I love the “training” you’ve put your family through! 🙂


      Posted by KelseyBrowning | May 18, 2011, 10:29 am
  4. Good morning, Laurie.

    Your lectures never fail to make me think! One of my favorite mental spa treatments is “Create.” And by that, I mean having a creative outlet other than writing. Before I began writing, I always had some project going–scrapbooks, a house improvement scheme or something. Once I began writing, I funneled everything into the page and felt guilty if I took precious writing time to do something else.

    You know what I discovered? That’s an excellent way to dry up your creativity. Having another outlet is critical for me. Sometimes it’s something simple like a coloring book (and yes, I have a 96-color box of crayons :)). I have a coloring book called “Groovy Chick” (from the UK) that I love. Simple line drawings that I can just have fun with.

    I also have a sketch book that I use to “collect” sayings, pictures, basically anything that catches my eye (except the pool boy, of course ;)). I’ll sit down with old magazines and rip out pages. Sometimes I don’t even know why that particular page intrigues me. I stuff the pages in my sketch book until I need a break, and then I go through, cut out ones that speak to me that day and glue them in. No great work of art, but I love to page through that book.

    Let’s get this discussion going today, RU Crew. I have a feeling we’ll learn a lot from one another!


    Posted by KelseyBrowning | May 18, 2011, 7:41 am
    • Oh, Kelsey, you’ve got me DYING for a box of 96 crayons — what fun! And a coloring book…matter of fact, I’m thinking the next time I get a free half-hour for shopping, I’m gonna go find that.

      And having another creative outlet besides the writing is a great idea, even when (as it sounds like you’re doing) that outlet winds up feeding into a future writing project. I’ll bet it’s a kick to go through that collection and discover things that inspire the next book — although how you can tear yourself away from the crayons has me scratching my head. 🙂

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 18, 2011, 8:37 am
      • Oops, Laurie, I lied! I have a box of 120 crayons – LOL.

        My only disappointments? After all these years, I still want the metallics to color better. And the fluorescents? I’d love Crayola to do a little quality improvement there too. But I sure do love the pinks and purples!


        Posted by KelseyBrowning | May 18, 2011, 10:31 am
  5. Hi Laurie. Welcome back. We always love your visits! I definitely have not given myself “spa” treatments lately. Like Tracey, it seems like a mad sprint right now, but I’m hoping things will slow down in the next month or so.

    That being said, I’ve discovered I need to take a few minutes each day to sit in silence with my eyes closed. I have a tendency to try and fill each second of the day and it’s become draining. So, now I try to take a least five or ten minutes to just sit quietely and do nothing. It’s actually quite hard and sometimes I can’t slow my brain down, but when I can, it really refreshes me.

    In fact, everyone stop reading right now and close your eyes. Right now! LOL.

    And, exercise works for me. If my day feels insane and I’m stressed, I try to take some time to go to the gym or outside for a walk and it always settles me down.

    Posted by AdrienneGiordano | May 18, 2011, 7:50 am
    • Adrienne, I’m so impressed with you for taking that time to slow down and get centered…especially when you’ve got so much going on around you. That’s a really tough thing to manage, and it’s wonderful that you incorporate it into everyday life.

      The exercise is good, too, and I suspect that comes a bit easier for the type of writer who’s always on the go, filling every minute of every day. Nice that you’re building in both a physical-health break AND a mental-health break to keep yourself going-going-going!

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 18, 2011, 8:58 am
  6. Morning Laurie!!!!

    I’ve been severely lacking in the mental spa portion of the program the past month or two. =) BUT back in the day, what worked for me was working out – nothing like 30 min of mindless activity! – and reading. I read every night, and some afternoons as well, and it relaxes me. It also churns up new ideas for my story – not copying by any means, but I might be reading Nora and I’ll think hey, I never thought of having them meet in the woods! And what if it wasn’t the woods but the clothing factory? And then instead of being surrounded by wildflowers it was killer pygmies? And then….and off my brain goes, on it’s own spa vacation by itself.

    Nice having you here Laurie! I’m sure I’ll be seeing you soon!!! =)


    Posted by Carrie Spencer | May 18, 2011, 8:07 am
  7. Thanks for this, Laurie, and thanks for the reminder that we all need time at the mental health spa! Whenever I need a break, it helps re-energize me to take some time for myself. I’ll go for a nice, long walk in the park while I listen to my favorite music. Or I’ll just enjoy the peace and quiet and daydream and listen to my own thoughts. Getting an extra long night of sleep after being stressed and not sleeping helps me feel reinvigorated, too, and I feel much more creative and inspired and ready to work the next day.

    Gina B.

    Posted by Gina B. | May 18, 2011, 8:18 am
  8. Hi Laurie,

    I would add be proud of what you do. Being creative is good. To some, it is a gift. Appreciate and refine your skill. I like the envy part of your spa. I use it on my kids. If you want someone’s athletic abilities or creamy complexion, you have to take the whole life. I tap their deepest fear. There could be a meaner mom than me on this planet.

    Mary Jo

    Posted by Mary Jo Burke | May 18, 2011, 8:50 am
    • Mary Jo, I’m chortling over the idea of you being the meanest mom on the planet by tapping into your kids’ deepest fears — gosh, imagine if you did that to your characters. How would they ever survive? 🙂

      And taking pride in creativity, honoring that gift, is a wonderful thing. We tend to take for granted the things we spend a lot of time on, figuring “everybody writes books” because we’re surrounded by fellow writers. And yet if you walk into the nearest McDonald’s, chances are NOBODY in there is writing a book…so being aware of how rare that IS is a great mental health spa treatment!

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 18, 2011, 9:10 am
    • Mary Jo –

      So laughing at your “threat” to your kids. I love pointing out bad moms on TV to my son. I say, “See, it could be worse, right?” To which he promptly rolls his eyes!


      Posted by KelseyBrowning | May 18, 2011, 10:37 am
  9. Hi Laurie! I agree with Tracey about the amount of “white noise” in the publishing business. There’s so much rejection and negativity built in to the process of getting published. My best spa treatment is a posse of writing friends who believe in my work when I’m not so sure, and tell me to leave the pity party when that’s what I need to hear.

    Posted by Gail Hart | May 18, 2011, 8:51 am
    • Gail, you’re so right about the negativity — it’s a tough thing to ignore, because there’s never any telling where the next bit of bad news will pop up and (at least most) writers can’t quite function alone in a cave for very long.

      But having friends who know you well enough to say “stop the pity party” is a great thing…right up there with having friends who can say “this hero doesn’t work” or “I’m not getting the excitement.” So much better to hear it from them than from the world at large!

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 18, 2011, 9:46 am
    • Gail –

      It’s great to know you have friends who have your back no matter how insane all this publishing business gets!


      Posted by KelseyBrowning | May 18, 2011, 11:27 am
  10. Hi Laurie,
    Lots of wonderful ideas here. My best mental spa treatment is actual physical exercise. A walk through the woods – usually with the dogs or a workout works well to clear my mind. Also cooking. I love foodnetwork and trying out new recipes, it relaxes me and gets the creative side of my brain into the action!

    Posted by Debi | May 18, 2011, 9:02 am
    • Debi, a walk in the woods sounds lovely — so much better than half an hour at the gym.

      And I’m intrigued by the idea of cooking because to me that’s more like work, but I envy you (oops) the sense of creative enthusiasm that comes from enjoying Food Network recipes. Although, hmm, if they were all for fabulous desserts…THAT might be as much fun as the box of crayons. Ooh, new inspiration for sure!

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 18, 2011, 9:57 am
    • Debi –

      I tend to try out my story ideas on my dog while I’m walking him. Sure wish he’d learn to talk back!

      Thanks so stopping by!

      Posted by KelseyBrowning | May 18, 2011, 2:07 pm
  11. Hi Laurie,

    I find that just getting out of the house is a mental health spa for me. Since I stay home and write, my mind is often at odds with the things I want to write and chores that need to be done. So, I love the idea of execise, but my exercise is usually playing frisbee with my 85 pound great dane/lab mix puppy who is only 9 months old. Besides, if I don’t exercise him…I won’t get anything done anyway!

    Thanks for sharing your wisdom with us, Laurie!

    Melinda S

    Posted by Melinda Salminen | May 18, 2011, 9:37 am
    • Melinda, you’re smart to combine the “necessary chore” of puppy exercise with the fun of getting an out-of-the-house break! What’s not to love about feeling virtuous for keeping up with tasks, while also getting some exercise, while also enjoying a whole new perspective?

      Although, good heavens, if he’s already 85 pounds and 9 months old, it sounds like you won’t be able to get away with skipping that break anytime soon — any chance if you get distracted by a scene, he’ll wind up sitting on your keyboard? 🙂

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 18, 2011, 10:01 am
    • Melinda –

      My lab/saluki mix doesn’t weigh 85-pounds, but he does let me know when it’s time to walk, eat or whatever. He’s been known to climb in my lap or sit on the ottoman giving me the “you will do as I say” stare :).

      Thanks for sharing!

      Posted by KelseyBrowning | May 18, 2011, 2:09 pm
  12. Hi Laurie!
    I dont have enough writing experience under my belt to have any big routines but i can say that there are a few things that help the writers block when it comes. 1. if i dont want to get out of my chair because i know if i do i wont come back then i play sudoku to focus my brain. After a few rounds of complete focus on counting my brain relaxes enough for me to move back to whatever i was doing. 2. I take a shower or go swimming. Sounds odd but as soon as i get in the shower i’m relaxed and creative juices run wild. Its always my luck that i come up with some great things when i dont have a chance to write them down! I end up running out of the shower, naked and dripping wet through the house to my office so i can write things down before they leave my mind. Happens just about every single time.

    Posted by Sommer | May 18, 2011, 9:42 am
    • Sommer, I never even thought of Sudoku as a mental health spa treatment, but it’s a fabulous idea…about as far removed a brain function from Creative Writing as anyone can possibly get!

      And you’re right about the shower, as well — what IS it about water, anyway? The only other risk besides having to run for the office with new ideas is running out of hot water, but maybe that’s a sign of “time to get back to work.” Or, hmm, maybe a sign that jumping into the pool will make the break last longer….

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 18, 2011, 10:05 am
    • Sommer –

      Very interesting about the Sudoku. I actually do word and numbers puzzles at night to help me go to sleep. If I read, I’ll be up all night, but puzzles are like warm milk for some reason.

      And yes, what it is about the shower. So many thoughts, so little paper!


      Posted by KelseyBrowning | May 18, 2011, 2:10 pm
  13. Laurie,

    I love the inspiration you inspire… and my writing has been in the back seat for sometime… but I’m slowing bring it to the front seat… When I write it’s like having reached the top of the mountain arms extended in both exhiliration and gratitude, and I’m looking forward to do it more often… thanks for all the teachings you rock…

    Posted by Liz | May 18, 2011, 10:46 am
    • Liz, that image of standing atop a mountain with arms flung wide is gorgeous — what a perfect illustration of the “hurray, I did it” spirit!

      And you know, that’s actually a pretty good mental health spa technique…celebrating those moments EVERY time they occur. We’re pretty good about celebrating the big ones, like reaching The End, but sometimes we forget to honor the triumph of finishing Chapter Six. Or finishing the query letter. Or, heck, even finishing the planning process that allows us to start Chapter One. Those all deserve joy, as well…and it makes the process a whole lot more fun!

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 18, 2011, 11:02 am
    • Liz –

      Thanks for stopping by RU today. I agree, Laurie’s the best.

      Good luck with getting your writing groove back!

      Posted by KelseyBrowning | May 18, 2011, 2:12 pm
  14. Laurie, I love all your ideas. Thank you.

    During my writing day when I become stump or I’m troubled, I play a game of spider solitaire. I know it sounds silly, but it just takes me away for a moment in time and refreshes me. Now, you have to watch out. If you take too many of this breaks then you waste your day. LOL


    Posted by Mackenzie McKade | May 18, 2011, 10:47 am
    • Mac, you’ve got me wanting to try spider solitaire — sounds like an easy download and a very refreshing break!

      Although I suspect you’re right about how easy it’d be to wind up spending an entire day having fun with that…one friend said she finally had to switch computers and do all her writing on one with no games or email. Which seems pretty dire, but also pretty effective. Hmm, maybe chocolate is sounding better. 🙂

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 18, 2011, 11:18 am
    • Mackenzie –

      You’re a stronger woman than I if you can come back to your writing after playing Spider Solitaire!

      Thanks for stopping in today!

      Posted by KelseyBrowning | May 18, 2011, 2:16 pm
  15. Fantastic article. You’ve shared immense wisdom to ponder. Learning the art of “guilt-free change” is one of biggest gifts we can give ourselves. I look forward to reading more of your articles, and I just received your book, Believable Characters: Creating with Enneagrams, and can’t wait to devour it.

    Posted by Rita Garcia | May 18, 2011, 10:48 am
    • Rita, I love the mental health spa treatment of “reading Laurie’s enneagram book” — what a cool idea! And I’m delighted you found it on Amazon or wherever; it’s always nice to know people are reading my stuff.

      For that matter, reading all kinds of craft books can be a terrific spa sesson, because they’ll either inspire new ideas or confirm that our original ideas are on the right track or give us new ways of looking at things…even if (as much as I hate to say this) the book wasn’t written by me. 🙂

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 18, 2011, 11:21 am
    • So glad you stopped by RU today, Rita!


      Posted by KelseyBrowning | May 18, 2011, 5:04 pm
  16. Sorry I’m late – I had to make myself a cup of herbal tea and light some scented candles (Tyler’s High Maintenance and Diva are my favorites!) Boy, does this ever sound great! My personal treat is a mani/pedi, but even getting a haircut is rejuvenating. I love the idea of guilt-free change!

    Posted by Becke Martin/Davis | May 18, 2011, 11:47 am
    • Beckie, I’m impressed that you actually HAVE the herbal tea and scented candles on hand…you’ve already got the right attitude for a mental health spa-goer, which’ll make it easier to make that “appointment” anytime you’re ready for a spa getaway.

      And, heck, with experience at making appointments for mani-pedis and haircuts as needed, you’re already well on the way to getting the kind of periodic-break lifestyle every writer needs!

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 18, 2011, 12:29 pm
    • Becke –

      Tyler candles (from my home state :)) are the best! I love Buttercream and anything else that smells like food. You reminded me I need to buy some more!


      Posted by KelseyBrowning | May 18, 2011, 5:06 pm
      • Kelsey – Tyler Candles are the best! So many candles smell good in the jar but not when you burn them. The Tyler Candles smell good all the time! One of my fabulous critique partners gave me one for my birthday a year or two ago, and I’ve been hooked on them ever since!

        Posted by Becke Martin/Davis | May 18, 2011, 5:16 pm
  17. Oh, baby, nothing better than a nap in the middle of the day. I turn off the phone, put some nice music on and take a nap. Heaven!

    Posted by Kilian Metcalf | May 18, 2011, 12:08 pm
    • Kilian, what a cool idea to use music for easing into naptime — seems like that’s gotta make it easier to actually fall asleep in the middle of the day.

      I’ve heard of writers creating just the right blend of music to inspire them during a particular book, but music to inspire relaxation sounds every bit as useful — especially because it wouldn’t necessarily have to change every time the book setting or characters change. Hmm…

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 18, 2011, 12:32 pm
    • Kilian (what a great name, BTW) –

      I admire that napping helps your creativity. If I sleep, I’m done for the day!

      Thanks for visiting RU!

      Posted by KelseyBrowning | May 18, 2011, 5:07 pm
  18. This is a good reminder to be gentle with one’s self. Other books are my favorite mental vacation. Each book I read helps me better define what I’m looking for in a good book, and then I try to write it.

    Posted by Judy | May 18, 2011, 12:35 pm
  19. Try casting cards for your characters. Nothing like it for a bit of lateral thinking and a bit of fun too. It’s a spa treatment for the imagination – and for any character that’s dragging their heels in the mud. Tarot will work but that’s a bit heavy. Try a whimsical facsimile like the ‘Fantod Pack’ – recent gift from a friend. Strangely illuminating – gets that subconscious area of your mind into gear and makes me laugh too. Laughter is the best spa medicine of all.

    Posted by Pamela | May 18, 2011, 1:31 pm
    • Pamela, at first I read “casting cards” as “casting calls” and had these wonderful visions of an afternoon on the movie set (or the casting couch, as the case may be) auditioning all the possible characters who showed up…but then the right word kicked in, and THAT’S a wonderful stimulant as well.

      And you’re SO right about laughter being a great spa treatment — can’t beat the convenience, the price, or the amount of time it takes. 🙂

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 18, 2011, 1:47 pm
    • Pamela –

      I have some tarot cards, but I’ll have to look up the Fantod Pack you suggested.


      Posted by KelseyBrowning | May 18, 2011, 5:16 pm
      • Fantod pack has illustrations by Edward Gorey. It’s very funny, and all the cards portend evil or dire happenings. No HEA for Gorey characters.

        Posted by Kilian Metcalf | May 18, 2011, 5:26 pm
  20. I love to read a good book but this can often lead to greater self-absorption. It’s all about me and the pages, making any and all interruptions annoying.

    So a better one is to get outside of myself. Put the book down, sit on the floor and play a game with my sons. Offer to do something for someone else. Call someone I haven’t spoken to in a long time. Go for a walk (outside, not on the indoor treadmill) and commune with people and nature.

    Posted by PatriciaW | May 18, 2011, 2:35 pm
    • Patricia, you’ve got a good point about the horror of being interrupted while engrossed in a good book — if Uninterrupted Free Time isn’t on the menu at your spa, much better to choose something that IS on the menu.

      And doing for others can be wonderfully refreshing…we could say that’s where the Golden Rule meets the Golden Door. 🙂 Matter of fact, maybe that’s why North America’s premier destination spa GOT that name in the first place!

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 18, 2011, 3:24 pm
    • Patricia –

      I agree that leaving my desk is often the nicest thing I can do for myself. And my back always says “Thank you!”


      Posted by KelseyBrowning | May 18, 2011, 5:19 pm
  21. I have two things. I like to play with graphics software and work on photographs (I want to learn to make book covers…Like I have time for that.)

    My other love is the violin. I like to go in a back room, lock the door, and play the crap out of it. You can’t think or stress about anything else when you practice…especially when it’s a tough piece.

    Posted by Joan Coy | May 18, 2011, 4:43 pm
    • Joan, it’s so cool that you have creative talent with music as well as with words — and, heck, I can’t see why that wouldn’t extend to visual graphics as well!

      Sure, there’s always the question of where to find TIME for all this creativity…but knowing what you’ve got on the already-skilled list and what’s next on your to-try list makes it easier to pick what you want from the spa treatment menu whenever there’s time for a mental health spa getaway.

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 18, 2011, 5:26 pm
  22. I like to take a break from ‘my’ characters and watch a season or two of a favorite DVD series or an old classic black and white movie.

    Posted by Lis | May 18, 2011, 4:45 pm
    • Lis, there’s a lot to be said for enjoying someone else’s story (or, heck, a whole series of stories) — after all, stories are what writers love best!

      And, wow, the idea of watching an entire series on DVD is tremendously appealing…sounds like a long enough mental-health-spa getaway to come home VERY refreshed.

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 18, 2011, 5:34 pm
  23. Hi Laurie!

    Wonderful to have you back! I don’t have one particular creative way to recharge, but housework usually does the trick, especially if I blast Broadway showtunes while I’m scrubbing. I love the witty lyrics, and I’m very aware of the cadence of the words and how it works with the timing of the music. I guess you could say show tunes have taught me that one extra word can destroy the rhythym of a sentence. 🙂

    I like watching old movies like Pillow Talk or Move Over, Darling…the rom coms of the sixties or I’ll pop in my fave contemp rom com. I am guilty of retail therapy via the Internet. I’ll look at clothes, shoes and handbags and try to think of what my characters would wear. I also have a weird obsession with reading hotel reviews on Trip Advisor. The pics of the hotels give me some inspiration on settings and the negative reviews crack me up.

    There is a lot of negativity in the publishing business. I’ve hit the wall at times and wondered why I’m doing this. But I know getting published isn’t the only goal I have and knowing that helps a lot. Not sure if that makes any sense, but it makes sense to me!

    Thanks for the wonderfully inspiring and timely post.

    Posted by jennifer tanner | May 18, 2011, 5:16 pm
    • Jen, what a great bunch of tips — every one of them (except maybe the scrubbing part of housework) has me wanting to go try ’em out. Although that might be just the excuse I need to crank up the Broadway Channel at full volume…

      And your attitude of “publishing is swell, but it’s sure not my ONLY reason for living” makes perfect sense. Having that perspective makes life a lot easier, which in turn makes every day more likely to include a mental health spa getaway!

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 18, 2011, 6:11 pm
    • Jen –

      If I rent out Netflix’s inventory, will you please come clean my house?? I’m really not that far away…


      Posted by Kelsey Browning | May 18, 2011, 8:11 pm
  24. Hi Laurie,

    Your post gives good food for thought. I find mowing the lawns is good for stirring the creative juices. It’s something about the smell of freshly mown grass, I think, that seems to stimulate my imagination. If I’m just plain mentally exhausted I find the repetitive actions of ironing very relaxing while listening to something – classical music if I am really exhausted, or a talking book if I am half exhausted. That takes me into a deep place in my mind and at the end of it I feel refreshed and I have a pile of ironing to justify the ‘time out’!

    I really like your How Important Is It idea. Thanks for that. I can see me using that one a lot!

    Thanks for the ideas. It is a good start to my day.

    Posted by Shirley Megget | May 18, 2011, 5:27 pm
    • Shirley, I like your distinguishing between “really exhausted” and “half exhausted” with a different audio treatment for each one — that’s the kind of service only a VERY thoughtful spa will provide.

      And there’s a lot to be said for mowing the grass or ironing besides the nice sense of refreshment, because it makes the whole environment more beautiful. 🙂

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 18, 2011, 6:19 pm
  25. Laurie,
    My mental health spa is taking a walk or hike. Not only do I get physical exercise, which I can’t do without, but I can think up a creative story within five minutes. It lets my mind wander and relax.

    Posted by Rebecca Kagan | May 18, 2011, 7:29 pm
    • Wow, Rebecca, thinking up a story in five minutes is going to turn a whole LOT of writers into walkers / hikers — that’s amazing!

      And you’ve got me wondering whether it makes a difference if you’re out in the midst of nature, or if a city-scape works just as well…guess I’ll have to try both ways for myself and see what works best. (Keeping in mind, of course, that there’s no ONE best way. 🙂 )

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 18, 2011, 7:54 pm
      • Rebecca –

        That’s honestly been one of the best things about my move to Southern California. I can now leave my desk mid-day and walk outside without fear of melting into the sidewalk. Great (or at least great at the time :)) things come to me when I walk.

        Keep on walking!

        Posted by Kelsey Browning | May 18, 2011, 8:14 pm
      • Laurie,
        I have to admit I’m spoiled. I live where I can walk outside for miles and probably never see another person. There’s other houses about every 5 to 35 acres or so, but no one else seems to go outside and smell the breeze. Amazing at what this world is coming to.

        Posted by Rebecca Kagan | May 19, 2011, 8:46 pm
  26. Thank you for your post, Laurie; and everyone for your comments. One form of mental health-spa therapy that I use is to remind myself of WHY I’m doing what I’m doing.

    Concerning my writing, I’m doing it for the readers. My potential readers, of course. Some of you already have a readership. You’re fulfilling a need in your readers that no other author can in quite the same way. Someday I hope to do the same.

    Years ago I read this bit of advice—sorry I can’t recall who wrote it: “Think of a book that you’d like to read, but which has never been written. Then write it.”

    When the going gets rough, I remind myself that only I can write that particular book. If I don’t, those who might read it and (I hope) enjoy it will never get the chance. And they deserve it. That might sound egotistical, but it’s true.

    Keep up the good work!

    Posted by Mary Anne Landers | May 18, 2011, 8:35 pm
    • Mary Anne, asking “why” is a great thing — as effective for spa therapy as for getting to know the characters!

      And you’re right about being the only one who can write the book/s you’re going to write…if they’re ever going to spring to life on a page, they need you bringing them into being. Like a midwife, maybe, without whose help a whole lot of lives would never actually make it into existence. Big responsibility, but also hugely rewarding.

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 18, 2011, 8:49 pm
  27. Great post, Laurie. Thanks for the ideas. I don’t get much time to decompress with my writing, but I do have a w.i.p. that’s my “just for fun” project. It’s a completely different genre from what I normally write. So when I need a break I play with that one. It takes the pressure off a bit, and it never has to see the light of day. Writing for writing’s sake- to remind myself that I started writing because it was fun and I enjoy it, when I really need the reminder.

    Posted by Ava Quinn | May 18, 2011, 9:25 pm
    • Ava, I love the idea of “just for fun” writing — you’re right, it’s hard to imagine a better reminder of what the joy in writing originally WAS before all those concerns about craftsmanship and marketing and print runs got in the way.

      Not to say those are all bad things, but they’re so different from the pure joy of creating…and giving yourself time to actually indulge in that freedom is a fabulous way of staying in touch with the best parts of writing!

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 18, 2011, 9:44 pm
  28. Wow, it’s been SUCH a treat seeing all these wonderful mental health spa treatments — I’m dying to take the whole next week and go try out a bunch of new techniques!

    (Although I have to keep reminding myself there’s no point envying people who get to use the most fabulous ones each day…not that there IS any One Best. 🙂 )

    Anyway, with that firmly in mind, it’s time for the winner of free registration to my Plotting Via Motivation class, held on yahoogroups from May 31-June 24 at

    — and that goes to #25, Rebecca Kagan. Congratulations, and I’ll get your address from the RU gang to send you the registration link. 🙂

    Laurie, who’ll check back tomorrow for more techniques because it’s such fun imagining all these new ways of enjoying a spa getaway — thanks, everybody!

    Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 18, 2011, 9:37 pm
  29. Hi Laurie;

    Thanks for all of your ideas to energize us. One thing that always energizes me as a writer is a workshop (including yours)- perhaps because I know I am not alone in seeking clarity for a particular aspect and using the energy from a unification of minds at the ‘aha’ moment.

    One of the things I find when I need a break from being blocked or dealing with life stress is reading the paper from cover to cover. Somehow, sitting in my favorite chair, holding out my arms to spread the pages to news stories about people in another city or country or on the other side of the globe affected by fire or flood or tornado or political upheaval in their homeland puts my fortunate, North American life into perspective. Maybe my problem isn’t so terrible after all..
    Newspapers are also a great place for finding ideas! Names when I can’t choose one for a secondary character. Careers/jobs for my characters! Business news. Obituaries – looking at where people come from, what they did and the people they met along the way. Crimes, love stories, reunions. I’ve found a lot of ideas to unblock my writing by taking a few minutes to read the newspaper.

    Posted by Judy Stewart | May 18, 2011, 10:39 pm
    • Judy, now you’ve got me wanting to settle down in a wingback chair with the newspaper — that sounds lovely!

      And you’re so right about it being a great source for story ideas…I remember years ago seeing a classified ad that said “Old friend? Deadbeat spouse? We find ANYONE. 602.000.0000” and that became my fourth book. Never would’ve happened without that morning’s newspaper.

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 19, 2011, 9:58 am
  30. Laurie –

    I just wanted to say thanks for another fabulous post for RU. We love having you and the wonderful discussions you bring along with you!


    Posted by Kelsey Browning | May 18, 2011, 11:19 pm
  31. My therapy is a long hot bath, with a book to read and plenty of hot water top ups. The only drawback is no matter how careful I am I occasionally drop the book in the water. all the soggy pages clump together and it takes ages sepaerating them once the book is dry. But the feeling of relaxation the long hot bath brings is well worth the risk

    Posted by Janet | May 19, 2011, 2:19 am
    • Janet, there’s nothing quite like a hot bath, is there? And something I heard about an e-reader fan might come in handy next time you’re browsing…she puts her reader in a sealed plastic bag with enough air to keep it afloat.

      Not sure how easy it’d be to scroll down or turn pages, but if you’re focusing more on the joys of the hot water than on actually reading very fast, it might be worth a shot!

      Posted by Laurie Schnebly Campbell | May 19, 2011, 10:03 am
      • Not sure how that would work with iPads and Nooks and such that require contact with the screen, but my Kindle has a pushbutton on the side. I take it into the tub, the hot tub, and the pool. Pop it in a zip lock bag, and it’s good to go.

        Posted by Kilian Metcalf | May 19, 2011, 1:36 pm

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