The Dangers of Stretching Yourself Too Thin

Apologies for no update in May. I was busy editing and writing and wrapping up another semester. Received more rejections, but that’s part of the business.

Sometimes we contort ourselves in all directions. We do too much, assume too many responsibilities, and burn the candle at both ends. We’re focused on writing the Next Big Super Novel or Short Story or Whatever that we ignore self care. We skip meals, ignore sleep or exercise, and slowly fall apart. At one point several years ago I subsisted on toast and beans. And hygiene. Boy, did I skimp on the hygiene. I was a one-shower-a-week man for a while.


Now I make sure that my needs are met first before embarking on a long project. Creative endeavors take a lot out of us. They’re insatiable in their appetites; demanding our time and attention. We push along, distraction-free, focused on achieving that one goal. Perhaps it’s writing and submitting a short story to your dream mag. Or editing your special novel. Hell, even finishing that special novel.

Sacrifice is key. You’ve got to sink your time into your writing. Procrastination is the basic writer mode. We love to procrastinate. When facing a deadline or arduous project, writers do literally anything else. We clean. We itemize our sock drawer. We do light carpentry. Anything except what we’re supposed to be doing. Maybe a little distance is a good thing. Maybe taking time to daydream or hike in the woods can refresh us and declutter our mental attics. Then we can redouble our efforts and face the project head-on.

It’s important not to stretch yourself too thin. If this means taking a break, for the love of Sweet Baby Kittens, then TAKE A BREAK. Put on your favorite music. Get ice cream. Exercise. Exercise to your favorite music while eating ice cream. Whatever you can do to reorient your mind and distract it.

Here are some things I’ve tried:

Go for a walk: If you can, get out of the house, find a natural setting, and walk. It doesn’t have to be in the middle of a vast wilderness. If you live in a city, find your favorite park or walk around the block. Fresh air works wonders.

Hydrate: Drink water. Seriously. Our bodies are made up of 50 to 60 percent water. We’re just a bunch of squishy meat water balloons sloshing around the planet. Lack of water inhibits concentration and makes us dead, and you don’t want either, so drink water and you can focus on writing instead of, you know, dying.

Exercise: Everyone should, if they’re able, exercise. I’m not talking about an Ironman Triathlon or Tough Mudder, although if you can do those, you’re in peak physical condition and shall be venerated in Valhalla for all time. For the rest of us mere mortals, I’m talking about light exercise. Weight lifting. Walking. Jogging. Cycling. Getting your body moving. It could be something as simple as leg lifts. Whatever you need to do. Move that ass.

Relaxing: Yes, the subtle art of doing nothing actually helps. Feel free to take a break. You don’t have to write every day. You could spend time reading, daydreaming, or gardening. Put your writing aside. It’ll be there when you return.

Get Enough Sleep: Snoozing helps your body heal and is a great way to slide into unconsciousness and dream. Not getting enough rest leaves writers cranky, irritable, and prone to seeing things that aren’t there. You know: like writers usually are. Plus, if you get enough sleep, you’ll have the energy for writing.

Hopefully, you’re taking care of yourself and staying healthy. It’s good remembering that writing is a long-term activity. Putting pressure on yourself to write a bestseller, land an agent, and write a sequel all within a year isn’t worth the agita.

And now, some news…

PANTHOLOGY IS OUT! Shadow Spark Publishing released Panthology, an anthology of seven Peter Pan-related stories featuring the literary talents of Salem Wolf, Valerie Storm, Kaitlin Corvus, K.R.R. Lockhaven, Ashley Anglin, Mariah Norris, and me! My story, PANNED PETER is about a seedy Neverland where Peter Pan grows older but never grows up and becomes an incel with a horrible yet lucrative podcast. PANTHOLOGY is available in ebook and paperback from Amazon. Get it here.

THREE TIME TRAVELERS WALK INTO…. AVAILABLE SOON! Fantastic Books presents THREE TIME TRAVELERS WALK INTO… an anthology of 18 short stories, each featuring three figures from history who are thrown together and have adventures. This wondrous tome will be available on Monday, June 27! My story in the collection, NEVER MEET YOUR HEROES, unites John Dillinger, Jesse James, and Blackbeard on a once-in-a-lifetime heist in the future. The three must join a conman in robbing The Spire, a heavily guarded Syndicate-controlled tower in 2028 New York City. Get it here.

ACCURSED SON DRAFT COMPLETE! An edited draft of my novel ACCURSED SON is finished and ready for production. It’ll take a few months to whip it into shape, but reorganizing the ending and punching it up in places made it a better story. I’ll share more when the time is right. Speaking of ACCURSED SON, the cover is finished and it looks amazing! A cover reveal is being planned for November, when preorders open.

That’s all for now, gang! Be good to each other and I’ll be back with more high jinks and writerly updates next month.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: