How do we live a soulful life in a world of media overwhelm, hustle, and increasing complexity? This is the question author John Eldredge answers for hope*writers in our conversation about how to care for the soul of a writer. An author of multiple books, John discovered that his writing suffered when he didn’t pay attention to his own needs during the writing process. He realized how easy it is to live in the shallows of life, moving from one thing to the next, while forgetting to care for his heart.
As writers, we have to be especially intentional and deliberate about soul care so that we have something to offer the world out of the wellsprings of our own lives. John recommends three practices for healing your writer’s heart if you’ve been swept up in the hustle of life.
When the pace of life and the constant barrage of information overwhelm us, beauty is good medicine. It heals, nourishes, and calms the soul, while also awakening creativity. John recommends infusing your writing life with beauty in as many forms as possible.
You might place art prints around your home or workspace to inspire you or listen to beautiful music while writing. In fact, John actually chooses thematic film scores to accompany him as he writes his books. Each book has its own score! Another practice he recommends is to seek beauty in nature. John prioritizes spending time outdoors as part of a healthy workflow. Seeking beauty helps us live deeper, richer lives and avoid living in the shallows.
Another important element of soul care is taking time to mentally transition between tasks. We live in a culture obsessed with multi-tasking, and so we must find ways to actively resist the urge to do too many tasks at one time. When we want to enter a creative space to begin our work, we need to allow for a time of transition.
John tells writers, “Do not sit down at a computer and ask yourself to produce. That is so unkind. You have to have a transition.” By pausing before beginning our work, we choose to turn away from distraction and enter a space where we are free to create from a place of focus.
One of the realities of being a writer today is that much of what we experience is moderated through a screen. When it comes to reconnecting with your soul, it’s vital to remember what it is to live in the real, physical world, not just the curated digital world we inhabit every day. A simple way John recommends practicing this is to find ways to engage your senses with concrete things.
He again taps into the power of music to engage his sense of hearing. A stone he picked up on a special outing sits on his desk, and before writing, he holds it in his hands to feel the heaviness and weight of a physical object and remember the importance of this sensation. The use of essential oils or real objects of wood and stone, among other sensory experiences, help writers enter a “real” space.
There is great temptation to forget ourselves and our souls’ needs in this fast-paced online world, and at hope*writers, we encourage writers to write meaningful words without sacrificing their meaningful lives. John’s three practices offer tangible steps to take as we care for ourselves so that we might care for our readers.
Want to learn more about how John cultivates healthy writing habits? Click here for free access to our entire conversation and take one step towards balancing the art of writing with the business of publishing.