• Stuart White

#WriteMentor - Post #2 - keeping healthy during querying/submission and beyond

I just wanted to write a post to follow on from a Twitter thread I wrote earlier. It's below.


I wanted to expand on this a little to talk more generally about dealing with mental (and physical) health as a writer. I come from a family with a history of mental health issues (including several who have been sectioned) and I also suffer from some physical health issues, the most serious of which is my Type 1 (insulin dependent) Diabetes.

With that context in mind, I've kept my mental and physical health at the foremost of my mind as I embark upon a potential career as a writer.

Writing is a very isolated, lonely and, at times, desolate occupation. Now, I totally love Twitter, CP's and support groups - I am lucky enough to have many - but these do not replace human contact and socialising. They do not replace physical activity and fitness. They do not replace family.

It is very easy, and trust me I've been there, to think you can cut yourself off to people, you can get lost in your writing and at times, writing is exhilarating, it can be an escape from the tougher elements of real life. But it's about balance.

I am of an obsessive nature - when I do things, I do them to the maximum, often at the expense of most other things in my life. I am no good at moderation, nor am I very good at balance. But I've been trying to get better.

Recently, my physical health has been poorer, my diabetes is kicking my ass, and I've not managed it as well as I should have. The condition requires discipline and hard work, both of which I have been lacking recently. The knock-on effect of this has been a decline in my mental health.

Everything suffers as a result. Motivation, productivity, socialising. In summary, I'm just not as happy or as content with myself.

So to talk more generally, as a writer, how can we avoid this. We need to make time to do other things. Or if we feel life taking over, we need to find time for our writing, too. Wherever your life is at, whether it's writing too much or too little, for the sake of your physical and mental health and wellbeing, please remember balance.

I queried multiple books over a number of years - I've said before, well over 300 rejections. The emotional and mental toughness that is need to overcome that magnitude of rejection is staggering. I sometimes look back and wonder how I kept going, why I didn't give up. It was tough, a lot of the time.

But I think they key was, and still is, is to apportion a realistic impotence on your writing. Is it the most important thing in life?

Well, I made sure it wasn't in mine. I have an amazing wife and a beautiful daughter, both of whom enrich and enhance everything that I am. I ensured that when writing got tough, and it did, that I took solace in what I had, in how they made me feel. This always lifted and still does.

I have amazing friends and family, who constantly remind me how fun and happy life can be, even without books and writing. I am a school teacher, I do important work with children, and I am proud of my job and how hard I work at it. That also brings me balance and happiness.

So, when your applying for a programme like #WriteMentor, or querying agents, submitting to publishers or even if you're not, always remember that writing is not your life, it's a part of your life, maybe even a big part, but that there's more to it.

Balance leads to better mental and physical health. So go stand on one leg and close your eyes for 30 seconds. Go for a walk. Have a laugh with an old friend. Read a book! (but don't compare it to your own writing!!!) Do whatever else matters to you in your life.

May the force be with all of you…always.