What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer?
Taking breaks, coffee, and having multiple projects. Those three things keep me sane.
Taking breaks is key to staying normal. As a author, I do not want to be burnt out on writing, because it can happen and if it does, I’ll have dry spells that can go on for a long time (weeks to months). If I miss out on taking breaks, I also find that I tend to be book-oriented at all times. Take a walk with my sister for example.
Sure, I’ll be listening to her go on about daily life, but I’ll also be figuring out a plot point the whole time. That’s probably not healthy (or very nice), so mental and physical breaks are vital to staying sane. Plus, your friends and family will get irritated if you’re always in Bookland mentally. That or they’ll start treating you like you’re daft and flighty. I use videogames and movies as an adequate source of break material.
Coffee…I’m just an addict, so it’s not so much a sanity thing as it is a headache staving off method. Without coffee at my desk, I feel I’m missing something fundamental, like the keyboard or mouse, it’s that important. I’ll also use coffee, and all its trappings, as time to muse over what to do next. Stuck on something? Go upstairs, brew coffee, and stare at coffee as the brain chews over an issue. Stressed out? Chug coffee while staring at black letters on white page…mentally force them to reveal something. It has worked so far.
Multiple projects prevent me from getting mired down with one thing and stuck in a rut writing-wise. If one book isn’t going well, I switch to a different writing project. I brainstorm and take notes or proof the text, depending on what stage of the process I’m in at the time. The only thing I do not do is have two books in the writing stage at one time; I can’t juggle that kind of work.