How Writers Can Be Their Own Valentine

When February 14th rolls around, it’s a reminder to let certain people know that we love and cherish them. So, we buy chocolate, flowers, or go for a night out. Maybe we give the gift of time and make a favorite meal or dessert.

In reality, most of us don’t need a special day to show our love for the people in our lives.

But we do need a reminder to show love for the person we tend to forget about: OURSELVES.

Speaking of the L word, many of you know Becca and I gave our hearts to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs long ago. We use it all the time to teach writers how to build stronger characters, arcs, and how to add meaningful conflict and stakes.

Well, if there were a hierarchy for a writer’s life, it might look something like this:

In other words…YOU always come last.

So this year, think about how to put yourself first.

Be your own Valentine!

Start with some meaningful gifts:

1) Give yourself the gift of space.

We all live busy lives and can end up trapped within responsibilities and routines. We’re used to taking every spare moment and filling it with stuff that must be done – errands, fixing things, appointments. When do we have time to reflect on what we need, what we want to see for ourselves, and what will bring us more happiness and fulfillment?

So…back away from the to-do list and give yourself some space to think and reflect. We only get one kick at the can of life (unless reincarnation is a thing), so go for a walk in the park, take yourself on a picnic, or fill the bathtub with suds and lock the door. Turn your thinker to what small changes you can make to move toward a happier and more balanced you.

2) Give yourself the gift of time.

The Writer’s Pyramid shows how everything else tends to come first. After all, we love the people around us and want to make sure their needs are taken care of. But the constant merry-go-round of work, driving everywhere for school and activities, and all the other life stuff doesn’t leave us a lot for writing and other fulfilling goals.

So…be a little selfish with your time this February. Putting your needs and interests first for once doesn’t make you a bad person. Pausing things that can wait so you can make room for your writing and yourself is a healthy habit and teaches us to make choices about what’s really important. Plus, when you have more time for yourself and things personal to you, you’ll be happier and more energized.

3) Give yourself the gift of escape.

Forgive me, Stephen King, for I have sinned: I have become so busy I barely have time to read anymore. In fact, I may have moved that stack of books I bought out of sight so I wouldn’t feel guilty about what I wasn’t doing…reading.

If this sounds familiar, it’s okay. You aren’t alone. A busy life means reading fiction can end up on the back burner. But remember, we write because we love stories and want readers to escape into our realities. Reading is key to furthering our career and keeping our creative well filled.

So…let’s escape, too, and go on a book date. Pick up that trilogy you’ve been eyeing. Buy yourself your favorite sweets, a new flavor of tea, or whatever will help you unplug from everything and focus on the fictional realm. Give yourself permission to put everything else on hold and fall into a story world.

4) Give yourself the gift of help.

Writing is hard work and requires passion, perseverance, and grit. It can seem like we’re climbing a mountain that only gets higher as we learn what strong writing looks like and how to get our own story craft to that level. But while there’s much to learn, we also have a writing community filled with experts to help!



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