Crime writers — and writers and authors of all types — live demanding lives. Staying healthy is a big deal so that the story, articles, blog posts don’t kill you.
This is Part 1 of an email interview with Colleen Story of Writing and Wellness who combines her experience in health and wellness with her experience and passion for writing in many different forms. Stay healthy, keep writing. For readers, here’s a peek at how writing can be hazardous.
Your perspective is unique. Few writers or writing coaches ever mention wellness. What made you link health to improved writing? Was it a personal “revelation” or understanding?
I’ve actually been a health and wellness writer for 20 years. Shortly after I started getting some of my short stories published in magazines, I got a full-time writing job at a corporation, and I quickly gravitated toward the health department. Management soon handpicked me to be the lead copywriter for that department because I could read all the complicated studies and then turn around and simply explain the concepts to the layperson.
I’m really grateful for the people I worked with at that company as they helped me find a niche in writing that has taken me through an entire career. After three years there, I launched my full-time freelance business, and that’s how I’ve supported myself ever since. Though I’ve done other types of writing, I’ve always specialized in health and wellness because a) I’ve built up a lot of experience in it, which makes me more marketable, and b) I love helping people to feel their best.
Then I got my first novel published and realized I needed some sort of online author platform. I had a website already for my freelance business, but it was pretty static, so I started a blog. It did “all right,” but it wasn’t getting the traction I needed, so by the time my second novel found a publisher, I knew I wanted to step it up.
That’s when I got the idea to combine my experience in health and wellness with my passion for writing and creativity.
I created my new motivational website, Writing and Wellness, and that took off. I found I really enjoyed applying what I’d learned (and continue to learn) as a health and wellness writer to the unique challenges of the writing life. The site gave me a way not only to expand my author platform, but to grow my writing career as a whole, as I’m now writing books, speaking, and teaching on issues I’m passionate about.
Meanwhile, you’re right that I’ve come to what you called a “personal understanding,” and that is that there are so many ways that wellness impacts how we create, and whether we create.
I’ve discovered that if we want to truly enjoy a successful, long-term writing career, we have to gain a better understanding of our unique creative natures and what they need to thrive.
That way we can put into place habits and techniques that help us recover more quickly from rejection, for example, or manage our writing along with our busy lives, or remain confident even in a turbulent market. Personal wellness becomes the key to all of that, and ultimately, to finding meaning in what we’re doing.
How about the writing space — why do you focus on this for writers?
Helping other writers to work comfortably and creatively is something I enjoy doing, because I know from experience how painful and uncomfortable writing can be. If you’re doing it for only an hour a day you may not notice it too much, but most writers are at the computer quite a bit. Me, personally, I spend hours working on projects for my clients, and then more hours working on my own projects. Add in the marketing we now have to do and you’re talking about significant time spent typing away.
Meanwhile the body and mind are not made to spend hours and hours at the computer. It’s just not good for us. It puts us at risk for repetitive stress injuries like carpal tunnel, muscle and ligament strains, tennis elbow, neck and back pain, shoulder pain, computer vision syndrome, hunchback, and so much more. After you’ve been doing it for 20 years like I have, you begin to see and “feel” some of the consequences of your actions!
Through my own experience and because of my regular review of scientific studies, I’ve learned some important safeguards we can all put into place to help protect our bodies and minds from the deterioration that can occur as a result of all that time at the computer. If we approach it the right way, we can boost focus, energy, and productivity so we can make the most of the writing time we have.
This post, Why Print Books are Healthier to Read before Bed , shows you’ve put lots of thought into this. What is your goal with “Writing and Wellness?”
My goal with writing and Wellness, first of all, is to help empower people to live more rewarding and fulfilling creative lives. The tagline for the site is “Empower, Nourish, and Replenish the Creator Within,” and when I’m writing a new blog post or book or whatever, my number-one thought is, “How can I help the reader do just that?”
It really helps that I’ve been a professional writer for 20 years, because I’ve gone through it all, from the aches and pains of working a lot to the ups and downs of the writing life to the self-doubt and discouragement to the thinking I should quit to the elation of having my dreams come true. Looking back now, I can see how much self-doubt hurt my progress, for instance, or how I took way too long to get serious about submissions, or how the constant questioning of “am I really a writer?” held me back. I’ve also suffered from back pain, shoulder pain, wrist pain, elbow pain, neck pain, eyestrain, and more, and I know how these little (and sometimes big) irritations can get in the way of getting your writing done.
I enjoy taking what I’ve learned and turning it around to help others. It’s incredibly rewarding and helps me to feel that no matter what else may or may not happen with my writing, it’s well worth it if I can save someone else from pain or discouragement, help them eke a bit more writing time out of the day, or compel them to listen to their creative instincts no matter what.
Thanks, Colleen. And we’ll have more in Part 2 and we’ll find out a bit about Colleen’s novel Loreena’s Gift.
Meanwhile, Lon Casler Bixby and I, Don Simkovich, have survived completing our first detective or crime fiction trilogy! It ain’t been easy but we managed to work consistently and stay healthy.
Eating well, getting sleep and communicating my week’s schedule with Lon has proven beneficial to the creative process and our working relationship.