Six Reasons Writers Should Care About Self-Care


Do you define self-care as flaking out on the couch with a bag of chips while binging on Scandal? Or maybe enjoying an evening stroll with a friend? Whether you need 15 or 60 minutes a day to recharge your batteries, taking time to take care of yourself is critical for maintaining your sanity—and your mental health—especially if you’ve got a demanding job, a family, or other obligations pulling you in multiple directions simultaneously. Remember: You aren’t taffy, and you can only stretch so far!

It’s so easy to neglect self-care, popping it on the back burner because someone else needs your help, or you’ve got a project to finish, or you just can’t find the time to fit it in. But when that self-care goes untended for longer and longer periods (and let’s face it, it becomes much easier to ignore that nagging little voice once you start pushing it aside), your emotional and physical health suffer.

Whether you need to justify the necessity of taking time for yourself to recharge—or not—here are 6 reasons why self-care is critical

1.    Self-care reduces stress levels. A little stress can propel us to finish tasks or projects—but too much stress, especially over the long term, causes health issues (both mental and physical). 

2.    Self-care helps you refocus and keep that focus. Taking even a 10-minute break from a challenging task gives your brain a moment to breathe and pause. Walking away for a moment allows you to return with fresh perspective. Building in longer breaks, especially when you’re multitasking, helps to prioritize and zero in on what’s most important.

3.    Self-care reminds you of your worth and value. It will strengthen your connection with yourself so you can maintain the confidence to work toward your dream goals. And it will also strengthen your connection with others—when you’re feeling good, you’re able to extend beyond yourself to help others who depend on you.

4.    Self-care promotes a healthy work-life balance. Working 24/7 isn’t a virtue, and that kind of “dedication” causes more harm by depleting your energy, creativity, and productivity. Workaholics are more likely to suffer from insomnia and health issues like heart disease and stress-related anxiety. Setting boundaries between your professional and personal life—and even your passion projects—is critical to maintain sharpness, motivation, and health.

5.    Self-care allows you to be a role model for others. Deliberately choosing to take care of yourself teaches those close to you the importance of taking care of, loving, and valuing themselves. You can exemplify that success is possible through a slow and steady climb rather than bending over backwards and burning out.

6.    Self-care addresses physical health. Getting enough sleep, eating well, and exercising or engaging in physical activity are all important components of self-care.

Jump Start Your Self-Care Practice 

We all have different schedules, routines, and obligations. It’s important to find ways to unwind and destress, whether that’s in the morning when you wake up, on a break during the day, or when you’re finally home for the evening. Here are ideas for removing some of the day’s tensions:

●     Take a break when you need one.

●     Spend time with people whose company you enjoy.

●     Read a book or listen to music.

●     Get active: Dance or go for a walk or jog.

●     Write in a journal.

●     Learn to say “no.”

●     Get a massage.

●     Eat healthfully and drink enough water.

●     Calm your nerves and relax your blood vessels with a warm bath.

●     Eat a small piece of chocolate. 

●     Cuddle up with the kids or the pets (or both!). 

●     Pick up that knitting or crochet project. 

●     Meditate, practice deep breathing, or do yoga.

A healthy relationship with yourself is one of the keys to creating a healthy, happy, and contented life. Actively practicing in self-care reduces stress and boosts confidence, self-esteem, and productivity. It’s not selfish—because if you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t care for those who depend on you.


Self-care advocate Brad Krause is inspired to help others improve their overall well-being through self-care. Learn more at

Five Reasons Writers Should Practice Self-Gratitude


Thanksgiving is a holiday of gratitude. But when it’s your turn at the dinner table to say what you’re grateful for, chances are you don’t say yourself. While I believe it’s important to acknowledge the special people in your life, the good food, and the roof over your head, I also believe it’s equally important to be grateful for yourself and your unique writing journey.

Here are 5 reasons why:

1. Inspiration is fleeting. Most of us start off with a kernel of an idea that strikes without warning and compels us to begin in a passionate flurry. But eventually, whether in several hours or months, that inspiration wanes. And instead of quitting, most of us choose to carry on and finish writing, which requires discipline and courage.

2. Finishing a writing project can take a long time. As my great grandpa used to say: “it’s a long race, pace yourself.” Even if you write poetry or short stories, writing takes time. Some days will be exciting and passion-filled while others will hack at your self-confidence. 

3. Writing is a skillset you build. It’s common for an established author to cringe when you bring up their first book—even when you’ve read that book and think it’s one of the greatest literary works of our time. This is because every time we write, revise, or share our work, we are exercising and improving our “writing muscles.” Each writing experience helps us learn and grow into better writers, which means our standards change and we may suddenly judge previous work as bad, regardless of what a fresh pair of eyes would think.

4. As they say, writing is rewriting. There is nothing pleasant about the phrase: “kill your darlings.” But most writing professionals will stand by the advice wholeheartedly. Almost always, writing requires revisions. Some will make sense immediately and you will be happy to make the changes. But others will be painful, exhausting, and repetitive. 

5. Writing requires vulnerability.Why do we write? To express ourselves to others. Yet whether you’ve written an out-of-this-world fantasy novel or a memoir about a troubling time in your life, sharing your work can be scary.

So this Thanksgiving, be grateful for your inspiration that’s fleeting. For the length of the journey. For your ability to keep learning and perfecting your craft. For your vulnerability and your strength to hear others’ opinions and use them to take your writing to the next level. 

Thank you, writers, for continuing to put pen to paper and fingers to keyboard. Thank you for expressing and sharing your words, even when it’s scary—especially when it’s scary. Thank you for loving this craft and hating it and loving it again.

I am grateful that each and every one of you have chosen to take this journey. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Three Breathing Techniques to Access the Writing Headspace


Whether you’re one to wake up and write first thing in the morning, you find a way to cram it in the middle of your busy day, or you settle in right before bed with a journal by lamplight, it can be hard for the mind to focus when you want it to. 

It’s that time of day when you finally allow the mind to get quiet so you can hear your own thoughts that the stressors and anxieties come creeping in. 

Suddenly, instead of thinking about your lovely writing project, you’re preoccupied with the assignment due at work by the end of the week, or the dessert you have to make for the dinner party tomorrow night, or the fifteen items left on your to-do list that you were sure you could get done by today, darn it!

No matter how precise we are with our writing schedules, our minds have a schedule of their own.

They nitpick and worry and repeat that annoying commercial jingle for days after you hear it. 

So what can we do when we’re ready to hunker down at the café for the afternoon with our laptops, but we can’t get that knot out of our chest or our jaws to unclench?

We breathe.

That’s right, it’s as simple as breathing.

With the prevalence of yoga and meditation in western society, more and more people are turning to the fourth limb of yoga, pranayama, as a means of relieving stress and anxiety brought on by modern day living. 

Pranayama is a Sanskrit word broken down as prana (breath or life force) and ayama (restraint or control). Yogis believe that directing the breath can help one control the universal life force that exists within and around us and therefore become one step closer to enlightenment.

Pranayama is the flow of energy, the link between the body and the mind as well as between the individual and the world. When we don’t pay attention to the breath, that energy gets stuck. 

On a basic level, we receive less nourishing oxygen and hold onto more toxic carbon dioxide. But on a cosmic level, we become out of sync with our own beings and the world around us. 

In essence, we exist separately from the present moment.

We get caught in that “fight or flight” mode, where we merely cope rather than thrive.

Your writing deserves better.

You deserve better!

Many studies have shown the health benefits that deep breathing can have on the nervous system such as reducing cortisol levels and improving focus.

So the next time you sit down to write and that stress just won’t loosen its hold on you, try one of these breathing techniques to hone that writing headspace*:

1.    Nadi Shodana– The Sweet Breath or Alternate Nostril Breathing

Nadi means channel and refers to the energy channels through which prana flows while shodana means cleansing. This breath has been shown to calm the mind and balance the three main nadis that run through the body by cleansing the channels.

 How to:

-Curl your index and middle fingers of your right hand. Bring your pinky and ring fingers to your left nostril and thumb to the right nostril.

-Press the right nostril gently with the thumb and inhale through the left nostril.

-Press the left nostril gently with pinky and ring finger and release the thumb on the right nostril.

-Exhale out the right nostril.

-Inhale through the right nostril.

-Plug the right nostril with the thumb again and release the pinky and ring finger on left nostril.

-Exhale out the left nostril.

-Inhale through the left nostril and repeat the entire round at least five more times.

Tip: always plug the nostril after the inhale.

2.    Dirga Swasam Pranayama– Three-Part Breath or Wave Breath

 Dirga means slow, long, deep, or complete and swasam is another word for breath. The three parts of this breath are the abdomen, diaphragm, and chest, where you will breathe in respectively. This breath increases oxygen flow to the body and therefore calms the nervous system.

How to:

-Inhale deeply into the belly

-Continue the inhale into the rib cage, allowing it to expand in all directions

-Finally, extend the inhale into the lungs and chest.

-When you can no longer inhale, slowly release the exhale starting with the chest, then the rib cage, and finally the belly.

-Repeat at least five times.

Tip: as you practice this breath, imagine a wave, first swelling with the inhale, and then gently crashing with the exhale. 

3.    Ujjayi Pranayama– Victorious Breath or Ocean Sounding Breath

 Ujjayi translates as victorious. This breath is common in yoga asana classes since it helps to build heat in the body, but it does make the practitioner sound like Darth Vader (hence “ocean sounding breath”). Despite its strange sound, ujjayi breath is great for concentration and calming the mind. And as an added bonus, it can warm you up on colder days!

How to:

-Begin with the mouth open. 

-Inhale slowly and deeply. 

-Make the “ha” sound, the way you would fog a mirror. That place in the back on the throat is where you’ll breathe from.

-Now close the mouth.

-Relaxing the nostrils, inhale again into the base of the throat.

-Imagining the “ha” sound, exhale at the base of the throat.

-Repeat at least five times, inhaling and exhaling for even counts.

Tip: If you’re having trouble breathing from the base of the throat, keep the mouth open as you practice this breath. You will still notice the heat building and receive the benefits.

There are many more breathing techniques you can try, but hopefully these three give you a jump-start in accessing the writing headspace. I’d love to hear which techniques resonate most with you in the comments below!

*always consult your healthcare provider before attempting new exercises and breathing techniques.

Accepting Criticism: A Mindful Approach to Sharing Your Writing 


Most of us write with the intention of one day sharing our work. Yet when it actually comes down to it, the mere thought of handing over an early draft can cause the voice in our head to sound the alarm bells:

What if everyone hates it?

What if I’m a bad writer?

What if no one understands what I’m trying to say?

Yet sharing our work regularly can not only motivate us to keep going, but also help our writing improve. The trick is figuring out when, with whom, and how to share so that you aren’t discouraged to quit the writing journey all together.

Who should read your in-progress writing? 

If you’re just starting your writing journey, you will be looking for a very different critique than someone who has a completed draft or is well into the rewrite process. Especially when you’ve never shared your work before, it can be extremely scary to trust in someone you don’t know and downright detrimental if you receive too much feedback too fast. 

Early in the writing process, we often just need a boost of confidence to carry on. So it’s helpful to stick with a trusted friend or family member who can offer that encouragement with very little actual critique. 

But other times we need an honest opinion so we know if were headed in the right direction. This is when you might want to branch out and look for a critique group, a writing coach, or even an editor. At some point, constructive criticism is necessary to grow as a writer and make your project better.

The difference between constructive criticism and just criticism

Constructive criticism is a critique that offers concrete reasoning as to why the writing doesn’t work as is, and may even have insight on how to fix the issue.

Criticism just tells you the writing doesn’t work. Period.

Example of constructive criticism: The main character comes across as annoying because he complains about his predicament to anyone who will listen, but does nothing to help his situation. Can he try and fail a few times to help himself so that the complaining is more warranted?

Example of criticism: I don’t like the main character. He’s annoying.

If you receive straight criticism from you reader, instead of getting upset, think of a follow up question you can ask to gain more clarity.  

In this case: why did you find the main character annoying? What did he do or not do that made him come off that way?

The more you share your work, the easier it will be to not only identify when criticism is not constructive, but also how to extract the constructive aspect from the feedback.

Types of readers

As I mentioned above, there are different types of readers. Depending on your current stage in the writing process, you may want to use all or only one of the following: 

Alpha readers: generally, an alpha reader is a close friend, a confidant, or a member of your critique group with writing experience of their own who will read your in-progress writing and give feedback. This person should be able to give constructive criticism that will inform the rest of your writing process and revisions.

Beta readers: A beta reader does not need to have any formal writing experience. Beta readers will read the completed work and give a general opinion that can help you decide what your next step of the writing process should be. I recommend getting two or three beta readers at a time so that you can compare the notes and see if multiple people are reacting the same way to a certain part of your writing.

Coaches: A coach can come into the writing process at any point in time—before you start writing, in the middle of a draft, or once you have a completed draft. Their job is to guide you through the writing process and help clear any obstacles that stand in your way. They can also act as an alpha reader.

Editors: There are several kinds of editors. A developmental editor is somewhat like a coach yet there is less focus on helping you revise your writing and more on just revising it; they will evaluate your writing and restructure or rework it as needed. A copy editor comes into the writing process at a later stage to help refine and polish your writing. If a copy editor gets involved too early, you could be polishing a work that still has inherent problems on a structural level. And finally, a proof reader is the last person to read your writing before sharing it generally. Their job is to catch any typos or errors.

Learning From Experience

When I first started writing, I only shared my work with my mom because, no matter how good or bad it was, I knew she would always tell me it was amazing.  And for a while, that was exactly what I needed—encouragement to keep going.  

But when an author I met at a conference suggested I join a critique group, I decided to try something different. Soon, I was receiving real constructive criticism!

At first it was hard. Some weeks, I would walk away from our talks with no confidence. I would feel as if I needed to change my whole story. Other times I felt encouraged. But no matter what, without fail, I learned something new.  

Within one year of having a critique group, everything about my writing improved—even my ability to give constructive criticism to others, which in turn helped me gain a critical eye when it came to my own writing. 

So while it can be scary to open yourself up to criticism, building trust to share your work with others will ultimately help you grow as a writer and ready your work for the world to see! 

Do you think sharing in-progress writing is more helpful or harmful? I’d love to hear your opinion in the comments below!

Five Steps to Mindfully Craft Your Writing Pitch


Writing is a sacred practice.

Which makes talking about our writing just as sacred. 

Especially when we’re starting out, answering an innocent question like, “what do you write?” can require just as much or more energy as the process of actually writing it!

Sometimes we know our work so intimately that when we’re asked about it, we either don’t know where to begin and freeze up, or we go into a long-winded explanation that causes the listener’s eyes to glaze over.

So just as you have to develop your craft in writing, you also have to practice talking about what you write. 

Many people call this the “elevator pitch.” 

The idea of an elevator pitch is to have at the ready a concise and enticing summary of your project so that if you happen to take an elevator ride with an agent or publisher, you could sell them on your book (or screenplay or short story…) in that brief thirty-second period.  

But in reality, most people who ask about your writing project in conversation are not professionals waiting to give you a book deal, but family, friends, and even store clerks. 

It can feel strange to recite a polished pitch about your project, even if it sells your idea.

What’s more, one conversation—one question, even, that you weren’t prepared to answer—can shatter the confidence built over several months of writing.

So before you begin talking about your writing, find out what you’re comfortable revealing using the following five steps:

1.    Answer the Five W’s

It may seem like the five w’s are best suited for a detective solving a crime, but answering them can help you clarify the broadest and most important aspects of your work. 

Who is your story about?

What happens?

When does it take place?

Where does it take place?

Why does it occur? (And as an added bonus: why does it matter?)

2.    Explore Your Comfort Zone

While answering the five w’s can help you clarify the most important elements of what you write, you do not have to reveal all of it in your pitch.

Go back through your answers and remove any information that you aren’t comfortable revealing.

3.    Construct Your Pitch

Now take the remaining information and reorder the answers into a one to three sentence pitch. 

4.    Read It Aloud and Simplify

This is the most important step!

If you stumble over any words or they feel unnatural when spoken, try to simplify the language.

Make it as true to how you speak as possible while still getting the point across.

5.    Set Clear Boundaries

Once you have a concise pitch, think about any follow-up questions or comments it may lead to.

Someone may request to read your work, elaborate on a certain idea, or even tell you they’ve already read something similar!  

Rather than feeling the need to defend yourself, devise a plan so you don’t accidentally commit to sending someone your manuscript or feel an impulse to trash your entire project.

Preparing for these hypotheticals will ensure you aren’t caught off guard.

Remember, you always have the option of going very simple: stating the genre or style you write and that it’s in the early stages, but you’d be happy to continue the conversation when you’re further along in the writing process.

Whatever you choose to reveal, know that there are no wrong answers! 

Just as you curate the words on the page, you also get to curate what people know about them. 

Approaching the process with mindfulness by thinking ahead to what others might ask and being prepared with answers will ensure you maintain confidence in your writing and yourself. 

Are you comfortable talking about your writing? I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas in the comments below! 

Why You Should Meditate to an Audiobook


Most of us listen to audiobooks while doing some other task like commuting, doing chores, or crafting.

However, neuroscience research shows that the brain doesn’t actually multitask

Instead, it constantly switches between the two or three tasks that we’re working on.

So when we listen to an audiobook and also drive a car, or do the dishes, or knit a sweater, most of what is being said goes in one ear and out the other.

At the end of the scene, chapter, or even the whole book, suddenly we realize we have no idea what happened!

And for writers, listening to an audiobook is just as important as reading a book.

Our writing transforms to a whole new level when we take into account how the words sound, and not just how they read on the page.

By splitting our attention, we are not only cheating ourselves, but also the author of the book who put all that hard work into every single word.

Now, back to meditation.

When we meditate, we focus our attention on one thing such as an object, the breath, a mantra, or a sound.

When you think about it, concentrating on an audiobook should be no different than concentrating on music.

I tried it the other morning, not because I wanted to prove this point, but because I was near the end of a murder mystery and really wanted to find out whodunit!

As I navigated to my meditation app, I thought, if I was going to listen to someone’s voice, why not try using my audiobook narrator?

What I found as I meditated was that my imagination lit up with the imagery the narrator was describing.

The scene materialized in my head better than any scene I’d ever read or listened to before.

I was completely present in the character’s situation, in the beautiful prose, and each beat the narrator took.

Now, I’m not saying you’re going to reach enlightenment via audiobook meditation, but you very well may have an epiphany about your current project! 

And don’t be afraid to stray outside the genre you’re writing. 

Choose any book that catches your interest, or even a favorite one that you’ve read a hundred times. 

You never know what you’ll hear that will give you a new perspective on what you’re writing. 

You can set a timer for as long as you normally meditate, or you can let the audiobook run until the end of a scene, chapter, or any good pause in the narration. 

Whatever you choose, here are the steps to meditating to your audiobook:

1.    Find a space where you won’t be interrupted.

2.    Sit or lay in a comfortable position that allows your whole body to relax.

3.    Start your audiobook. It can be the beginning of a new one or in the middle of a chapter where you left off.

4.    Listen to narrator reading the book as you…

5.    …Begin to breathe in through the nose, out through the mouth. Eventually breathe in and out through just the nose. 

6.    Visualize what the narrator is describing.

7.    Check in with the breath every so often. Try to maintain awareness of the breath and the visualization simultaneously.

Don’t hesitate to reach over and turn the audiobook off if this isn’t working for you. 

And feel free to do this in addition to your normal meditation practice rather than in lieu of it.

It’s all too easy to get so caught up in our own writing that we stop making time to study and enjoy the works of others.

Meditating to an audiobook can bring some fun back into the process.

Have you tried meditating to an audiobook? If so, I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below! 

Four Mindful Strategies That Will Make You a Social Media Pro


As a writer, having a regular social media presence can be just as important as the actual process of writing. 

Nowadays there is so much out there to consume, which means you and your ideas can get lost in the clutter. 

Finding your audience through social media can help your book get sales, your blog article get clicks, or your screenplay get sold.

It’s one of those necessary evils of the trade; you don’t have to like it for it to be good for your writing career.

That being said, social media is a tool like any other—you have to know how to use it in order to actually benefit from it.

Here are four mindful strategies that will get you started on social media and help you build a presence, create engagement, and find your audience:

1. Start with one outlet

The biggest mistake I see writers make is, after going to a conference or reading an advice article, they feel pressure to create a Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Linked In, Goodreads, YouTube, and even Snapchat in one day. 

Then they have no idea what to do with any of them and all of the accounts just sit there for weeks, if not months. 

While it’s not necessarily bad to have an account for each outlet, when you’re first starting out, it can be overwhelming to adapt to each one’s unique interface. 

So choose the outlet you gravitate toward the most. 

If you love photos, go with Instagram. 

If you’ve been on Facebook for years and it’s the only one that makes sense, stick with it. 

If you enjoy sharing random thoughts and links, choose Twitter. 

In time, you can become active on every single one of those accounts, but the truth is, even if you did, it wouldn’t necessarily matter. 

If you can commit to one outlet, learn its ins and outs, and create engagement, you are way ahead of the game.

2. Relate each post to your brand messaging.

Branding can sometimes feel impossible as a writer, especially if you are, for instance, a doctor who writes romance novels, or if you plan on writing in many different genres. 

But I’ll bet if you think of all the things you are, it’s a way shorter list than all the things you aren’t.

Decide on a few phrases, keywords, or ideas that relate to who you are and what you write. 

Then make sure that every time you post, it has to do with those ideas.

This is how you will begin to find your audience.

3. Use hashtags.

Hashtags can be an elusive part of social media, no matter which outlet you’re using.

Hashtags are those pound symbols people put at the end of their posts: #

While many people use them ironically (like the now-infamous #blessed), their purpose is to help people connect, to make it easier to search for posts related to a specific topic, and to make posts visible to a wider audience.

When used strategically, hashtags hold the key to gaining a following of people who actually care about what you have to say, and not just family and friends who, while they do love you, aren’t your true fan base.

Choose one to three phrases or words that relate to your branding and include them at the end of every post. (I, for instance, would use: #mindfulwriter #sustainableproductivity #writingcoach)

Then choose three to five more general phrases or words that relate to that specific post. (If I were to post this blog, I might use: #writingadvice #mindfulness #socialmedia)

Those more general hashtags will make you discoverable to a wider audience, which will ultimately help you develop a niche fan base. (Not every person searching for writing advice will be interested in using social media mindfully, but the ones who are will probably click on the article and may even subscribe to my newsletter.)

4. Quality over quantity.

It can be daunting to come up with ideas of what to post on social media, especially when juggling all your real life to-dos and obligations.

My general rule of thumb is: if you don’t have anything interesting to say or it doesn’t relate back to your branding, don’t post it.

If you put one hundred percent effort into one post every month or two, you are far better off than putting twenty percent effort into five posts per month. 

Yes, visibility matters, but engagement matters more.

As long as you're also interacting with other users via their posts and comments, you can post less and still work on building your following. 


These four strategies are sure to set you on the path of sustainable social media use. 

If you have any questions or have other helpful tips, please leave a comment below!

The Secret to a Sustainable Writing Routine


The first few times I attended a writer’s conference, I wondered why there were no workshops on writing routines.

Wasn’t there a perfect formula that all writers could follow and thrive on?

And if so, why didn’t more people talk about it?

I asked lecturers and fellow attendees about their writing schedules. Did they write daily or weekly? How many hours per week? Did they keep track of their progress by page count or word count? Maybe chapter goals?

A lot of the answers rounded out to “it depends” or were extremely specific; an author who published one book a year claimed he wrote three hours per day, scheduled in times to interact on social media, and even had a reward system to keep him on track. And yet many other authors said he was the anomaly.

None of the answers satisfied my curiosity and so I continued to experiment on my own.

Over the years I’ve tried many techniques: writing at the same time every day, setting chapter, page, or word count goals, mapping progress on an excel spreadsheet, going on a walk before writing, having absolutely no conscious routine … the list goes on!

 What I found was that no matter how long I managed to maintain a specific writing routine, eventually, for one reason or another, I fell off the wagon.

But what I also found was that despite changing things up every week, month, or year, one vital factor stayed the same: I kept on writing.

So when I talk about maintaining a sustainable writing routine, I’m not talking about sustaining the same routine day after day, month after month, year after year.

I’m talking about adapting to what works for you at any given time in your life.

Because the writing process itself is fluid—there are times you will be writing pages upon pages for months, and other months where not a page will get written. But in that writing downtime you may be researching, waiting for beta readers to respond, outlining for a new project, or reading comparison titles. I’d say those are all productive and necessary parts of the writing process!

So if you’re looking for the secret to a sustainable writing routine here it is: learn to adapt.

Because the more receptive you are to making changes when necessary, the more successful—and sustainable—your routine will become.

What’s the longest you’ve sustained a specific writing routine?