Taking Care of the Talent
Jericho Writers Member Takeover
How are you taking care of yourself? It’s hard to force creativity, so it’s important to create an environment where you can be the best writer you can be. Today we’re hearing from author and Jericho Writers member Sarah Dinan about how thinking of yourself as ‘the talent’ when writing – as you would in any other industry – can help you look after your own wellbeing and become a better writer.
I’ve been a storyteller my entire life and fell in love with singing and writing at an early age. While I’m relatively new to the world of literary publishing, I have years of experience in the entertainment industry as a professional vocalist. In that world, the artist or performer is known as ‘the talent’ and I think the same can hold true in the literary world. Although editors and publishing teams play vital roles in shaping a finished book, without authors, there would be no story.
Seeing yourself as ‘the talent’ might feel awkward. After all, you may not feel like the talent. Especially if you are new at some aspect of the craft, or comparing yourself or your work to people farther along in the publishing journey than you are. We can get mired in the details of the industry, the logistics of business, or the sage algorithmic advice that says, as authors, we should do this or that, and miss the whole point – the stories we craft. We are the talent, we are the creators.
In the entertainment industry, ‘the talent’ is an easy distinction. Not just anyone can create the art, play the concerto, deliver the speech, or sing the aria. And if the talent can’t do their job, there is no show.
Still struggling to see yourself as the talent? Try a little reframe. Drop the word ‘aspiring’. You are not an aspiring author. If you write, you are a writer. You may be aspiring to publish your writing, but just by doing the work and creating with words, you are an author.
Treat yourself like ‘the talent’, because you are. This means you invest in yourself and hone your craft (which you are doing if you’re here at Jericho Writers). It means you value and stand for your art, and you ask for what you want and need to help you do it with aplomb. Self-care is not selfish.
This doesn’t mean we are primadonnas or divas, it simply means we are the greatest advocate for ourselves and our art. Our job is to create, and no one but us can do our work. No one but us can tell our stories. It is our responsibility as authors to take care of ourselves.
Everything we create comes through our bodies. Caring for the vessel through which the art is made is imperative. We are the conduit, and require regular maintenance. How are you caring for your conduit? Are you looking after yourself so you can do your best work?
Performers often spend time in a green room, where they may have their own pre-show ritual, prior to taking the stage. Consider what might be beneficial to support you in showing up to the page. Perhaps a curated environment - maybe turning off Wi-Fi or using an app to block yourself from distractions while you write. Perhaps it’s lighting a candle, using a favorite notebook and pen, or having a favorite beverage. Make a ritual about your space and your habits that signals it is time to perform.
Rest is vital. It encourages renewal and helps prevent burnout, and ideas can often flow in the in-between. Consider periodically taking time away from all aspects of your writing work, if even for an afternoon. Inspiration needs spaciousness in order to come through. Clear the space.
Do something you love, something that fills your well. Literally, anything that brings you joy. Filling your own well helps keep, or refresh, the delight in and for your writing.
In the entertainment industry, talent often has a rider that accompanies their contracts. It communicates to event organizers what the talent needs on and off stage to bring out their best performance. You are the talent. What can help you do your work? What do you need to facilitate your performance? Think about your tech needs, dietary preferences, and preferred atmosphere. What do you need before, during, and after your writing time?
You, dear author, are the talent. The world needs your art, and no one can write your story but you.
Take care of yourself. And keep writing.
Sarah Dinan is a vocalist and author with a passion for storytelling and an abiding love for nature. She lives in Austin, Texas, where she writes paranormal romance and urban fantasy, and is an unofficial ambassador for hydration and a fierce advocate for following your dreams.
Sarah's website and Instagram
Connect with Sarah in the Jericho Writers Community