This week, as my schedule has come a bit slower, I’ve discovered, remembered, recalled, recovered? some things about myself and what makes me successful as a writer.

My latest coloring project.

My latest coloring project.

I’ve also remembered the way I really want to define success: an experience that is fulfilling, deep, rich, and good in all the ways it can be.

To get to those experiences in my writing life – as writer, editor, coach, teacher  – I really need 5 key things beyond the standards of pen, paper, computer, and ideas.

1. Friends Who Get It – I talk about it all the time, I know, but on days like yesterday – when the world was particularly piercing – friends who understand this writing life are necessary to my health.  I’m grateful for all the writers I know, but at this exact moment, I’m particularly thankful for Jen Pastiloff, Jennier Niesslein, Alexandra Moffett-Bateau, and Jane Friedman. They give me wisdom, encouragement, and virtual hugs and kisses as needed.  Oh, and of course, people aren’t tools, at least not most of the time. 😉

2. Offline Time – I’ve begun walking away from my computer and leaving my phone upstairs in my office for at least brief breaks during the day.  In those times, I find myself staring at the goats more, taking more time to just see what’s around me, letting my thoughts slow.  It’s amazing.  I need more of it.

3. Handwork – Sometimes, I need to be doing something, anything, to keep myself from fretting or obsessively scrolling or biting my nails when I’m not actively working.  Sometimes, I need to be doing something so that I can think.  In those times, I turn to coloring (Mandalas are my jam of late.), sewing, or putting together a jigsaw puzzle. Just keeping the wiggly part of my mind occupied lets me think with slowness.

4. Exercise – So I am most certainly the last person on earth to really understand this, but exercise makes me feel better.  It gives me energy, lifts my mood, and helps me sift through this business of life more easily.

5. The Time to Slow Down – I have a tendency to take on too much, too much of things I absolutely love, but too much still.  But in order to do my work well, I really have to slow down, and slowing down requires time, and finding times means I have to do less.  It’s a hard thing for me to get, but I’m trying.

So those are the things I’m pulling tight these days as I work through my YA novel manuscript, as I edit client projects, as I work with other writers.  The slower life feels awesome.  It really does.

What writing tools do you find indispensable but unexpected?