I’ve been proofreading for my upcoming guide on building writing habits. One topic in the book that I don’t feel is talked about enough when it comes to approaching consistent writing habits is hormonal cycles.
This particular realisation will be slightly more important for my menstruating readers but don’t be deterred… there are also valuable takeaways for those that don’t bleed on a monthly basis.
I don’t think it’s a secret that the working world isn’t exactly designed around menstruation and child birthing abilities. From the difficulties with a 9–5 and childcare to the weekly grind and consistent performance expectations. It’s going to be challenging for anyone with a hormone cycle that is longer than 24 hours. Fortunately, when it comes to making your own writing schedules, you don’t need to stick to the industry standard.
Despite this, I see many writers force themselves to conform to the daily grind, and as such, they have bad days or even off weeks.
Dips in energy can make us feel like unproductive failures. We presume we are gradually losing our minds because we are not performing to the standard that we are used to. It’s amazing that our first instincts are often to examine our self-worth instead of examining what might be happening in our bodies or environments.
To clarify, some studies tell us that during the luteal phase of our cycle, we may experience:
- Weight gain
- Feelings of dejection
- Tender breasts
- Loss of interest in sex
- Mood swings
What’s worse is preexisting conditions get worse, such as:
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Bladder pain syndrome
So if you’re having a bad day please check in on the list of symptoms or your period tracker just to reaffirm that it isn’t your fault, and you’re feeling like an imposter for no good reason. Granted, problems with creative writing won’t always be connected to a menstrual cycle, but this is the quickest way to check off a box and then explore other potential causes.
There are, of course, phases of our cycle that are wonderful to experience, they do their best to make up for the negative impact of the luteal phase, but it’s safe to say that perhaps asking yourself to perform at 100% during this stage is a bit cruel.
Now, every person is different, so you may find yourself feeling more creatively inclined during this phase or perhaps more detail-oriented. I enjoy administrative tasks because the little boost I get from ticking things off helps me feel productive despite my lack of creativity. So spend some time figuring out what kind of work makes you feel better.
Now for my non-menstruating audience… if there are any of you left. You can implement this advice into your writing schedule by recognising that you have a 24-hour reset when it comes to your hormones.
You are likely going to be better at certain tasks during specific parts of the day. You might want to begin to track when certain tasks went well or poorly and try to replicate that sort of schedule for the best writing results.
It’s a bit like the early bird vs night owl concept. There will be times of the day when you are less energetic. In these times, you should focus on tasks that suit your energy level.
No matter how long your cycle is, there are ways that we can make the creative process easier on our minds and bodies.
Having a creative process that is in line with your body might make a massive difference in your writing career. I know that recognising times when I am naturally more or less likely to be creative has been instrumental in me being capable of what I’ve now accomplished.
Working with and for my body has been the best way that I’ve been able to build a consistent writing habit that actually works for me.
It means that I don’t write every single day anymore.
It means that I have a better-organised writing schedule that suits my needs.
It means that I’m aware of my body, and I know how to help it when I’m not feeling my best.
It means that I don’t feel like an imposter when I’m not able to do tasks at 100% efficiency.
We must take care of our bodies as writers. It can be easy to get sucked behind the desk into a frantic mess of computer screens and only come above the waves for energy drinks and snacks.
I want to change writing culture bit by bit so that it becomes more sustainable. This is one way to make small adjustments to your own life that will improve the quality of your writing.
Now, you should go grab a glass of water, and I’m going to move onto my next task.
As always, I cannot wait to see you on the bookshelf!