You can usually tell who the writer is in the room just by looking for the person who’s the most burned out. Screenwriting is not for the faint of heart. In addition to having blazing hot material, industry savvy, and smart self-marketing, there is one key ingredient that is a necessity for success in the entertainment business: resilience.
Rejections, long periods of unemployment between projects, and other daily frustrations can add to anxiety and stress. Even when things are going well, you may find you’re facing contract negotiations that drag on for months, tricky politics to navigate in writers’ rooms, or feel frustrated with the notes process during development. In the face of these obstacles, it’s especially important to have a self-care routine to help you bounce back and stay focused on what matters most: your writing.
Here are the top 5 self-care tips to keep your resilience up when obstacles arise:
Almost any screenwriter will tell you the majority of their day is spent inside, hunched over their computer or sitting around a conference table. Taking the time to exercise, which fills your mind and body with feel-good endorphins, can help you stay resilient when you’re ready to pack your bags and move to a ranch in Montana. Punch out your rage in a kickboxing class, center yourself with yoga, or take a short walk. Bonus points if you can exercise in the sunshine; vitamin D has been shown to boost mood and improve overall brain function.
2) Take yourself on an artist’s date.
When you’re feeling frustrated by the daily struggles of the business, it can be hard to remember why you started. Taking yourself on an artist’s date can help. Go see a new movie, play, or musical that interests you. Re-watch an episode of your favorite TV show or read the screenplay of a beloved movie. Treat yourself to a nice meal and spend some time at a film museum. However you choose to spend it, the point of an artist’s date is to re-connect to your joy and passion for your craft. Remember: creativity in means creativity out. So, if you find you have nothing left to give, try this method to fill up your tank.
3) Try aromatherapy.
I know this sounds kind of touchy-feely, but it works. As you’ve probably heard, scent is one of our most powerful senses, so it’s not surprising that aromatherapy has shown to combat stress and improve emotional health. To incorporate this into your self-care routine, find a candle with a scent that relaxes you or try an aromatherapy diffuser with lavender, bergamot, or rosemary essential oil. You can make it mobile, too. Fill a travel-size spray bottle with water and three to five drops of your favorite scent. Spritz this in your car for a quick way to de-stress on your way to a meeting or after a tough notes call.
4) Feel your feelings.
Yes, I know no one wants to do this, but sometimes you just need to get the frustration out. If you’re feeling fed up and can’t muster one more drop of resilience, don’t try. Take some time to process what you’re feeling and take a break. Scream into your pillow, vent to friends, schedule a therapy session, or meditate. Check out my post on 6 ways to bounce back from rejection for more strategies.
5) Take a break.
Feeling burnt out is a sign that you need a break. Although it may feel like the world will implode if you take a day – or a week – off from writing, do it anyway. Make a commitment to turn off your computer and reset. Sometimes time away is exactly what you need to come back in full force.
Let me know what strategies you’ve found helpful to stay resilient. Tweet me @CaroleKirsch.