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"Just be who you are, calm and clear and bright." - Richard Bach, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah

Emotional Hygiene Resources for Writers (and Everyone!)

If you’re reading this, then you probably already understand that your emotional wellbeing is the bedrock of your creative practice. Not only are you not capable of your best work while you’re in “hot-mess” mode, your unexamined, unmanaged emotions may very well be creating a more stressful environment for your loved ones, friends, and colleagues. I’ve been the daughter, sister, friend, and girlfriend foisting her toxic storm of feelings onto her loved ones, and it’s high time I shared what I’ve learned about emotional hygiene since Life Without Envy came out in 2016.

More recently (in May 2019) I made a video as part of a Life Without Envy web workshop on YouTube, and the recommendations in that video are still good. I’ve gone deeper into my private writing practice since then, though, and I have one daily prompt to share that will hopefully be as big a game-changer for you as it has been for me (it’s at the end of this post).

Quick disclaimer: I am not a mental health professional, merely a fellow artist committed to taking responsibility for her emotional wellbeing and developing her emotional intelligence.

More on YouTube

Guy Winch’s TEDx talk, Why we all need to practice emotional first aid [I still haven’t gotten around to reading his book, but I bet it’s as helpful as the TED talk.]

Dr. Abdul Saad’s Self-Transformation Series [I really appreciate his pleasantly neutral presence and delivery—it makes the concepts he’s sharing much easier to grasp]

Read on the web

An excerpt from Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now

7 Ways to Practice Emotional First Aid [also Guy Winch]

Byron Katie [There are free downloadable worksheets on her site, though you don’t necessarily need to fill them out; for me the key takeaway is to ask after every judgmental or otherwise negative thought you have, “Is that true?” Because it’s usually not.]

Heather Demetrios, Halting Your Thought Traffic and Hold Your Seat [+ her whole blog!]


[Full disclosure: I’m using affiliate links.]

Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now and A New Earth

Joe Dispenza’s Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself

Pema Chödrön’s Comfortable With Uncertainty

Trevor Blake’s Three Simple Steps

Dr. Eric Maisel’s Coaching the Artist Within and Mastering Creative Anxiety

Lauren Sapala’s The INFJ Revolution [I’m an INFP and I still felt like Lauren was reading my soul!]

And the daily practice that has helped me most:

Since last spring, the first thing I do each day (after going to the bathroom and brewing coffee) is to write down how I’m feeling and why—and if I don’t know why, I keep writing until I have some semblance of an answer. And if I find myself feeling grumpy or frustrated during the day, I pause whatever I’m doing, go back to my journal, and ask the two questions again:

  • What am I feeling right now?
  • Why am I feeling it?

I didn’t really learn this from anyone, it just occurred to me one day that it would be beneficial to articulate my emotions in real time, and I noticed soon afterward that I was much less reactive. I’m also much more patient with myself and others—there have been several occasions over these past eight months when I paused and thought, Before, I would have snapped. Owing to a few unfortunate episodes in my early childhood (flagged “TMI” in the context of this post), my “pain body” is activated when I feel invisible in social situations, so (for me, at least) it’s the “self witnessing,” “self validating” aspect of the exercise that has resulted in this shift. I articulate my emotions without attaching a sense of “rightness” to them, remaining as lovingly neutral as it is possible for me to be in that particular moment.

I hope at least one of these resources offers you some relief from the COVID pressure cooker (in addition to all the “usual” stresses of life). I’ll add to this list whenever I encounter more helpful content. If you have any favorite books or links to share, I would be grateful if you left a comment. [And a big shout-out to Rachel for inspiring this post!]

At the beginning of February I’ll be launching a new email opt-in goodie, a concise 30-minute private writing workshop video + workbook. (How is “private writing” different from journaling? Watch this.) If you found this post helpful and want more, sign up for my list and you’ll be notified as soon as the workshop’s live. (I’m also available for 1-on-1 coaching sessions!)

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Hi! I'm Camille. I only write stories that could never ever happen in real life, though I do believe in real-life magic. If we were in the same room I'd fix you a cup of tea, but for now we'll have to settle for a virtual connection. I'm really glad you're here.