RESILIENCE Be kind to yourself

Welcome to Kate Mallinder's brand new series for Words & Pictures on RESILIENCE!

‘Be kind to yourself’ is a phrase that’s been in vogue for a while now. When we see someone having a tough time, we instruct them to do this. It’s easy to say, but much harder to do I’ve found, so we’re going to look at some tips on how to do this in the context of being a writer or illustrator.

I look back a decade to when I had small children and wish someone had explained what ‘being kind to myself’ meant. That it’s okay to put your own needs first sometimes, without feeling guilty. That you are allowed to be less than perfect; you don’t even have to aim for perfection. I wish I’d realised that I spoke to myself way harsher than I would ever dream of speaking to anyone else.

All these years on and I’m still learning how to treat myself with kindness. The process of writing, receiving feedback and trying to get your writing recognised can be tough on the emotions. The need to have thick skin when sharing your work opposed to the thin skin required to pick up on nuances and subtleties when creating is a tricky balance. I often think I’ve got this sorted then something will come along, find a chink in my armour and floor me for a while.

The more I listen to what other creators say, the more I realise that being kind to yourself is essential. Whatever stage you’re at, there will always be external and internal triggers that have the potential to knock you off kilter. So here are a few tips to help when you’re feeling low, had a rejection, are asking yourself ‘What’s the point? Why do I put myself through this pain?’, or are simply feeling like it’s all a bit much.

Have a folder of all the positive feedback you have received. 

Print out emails, save editorial notes, write down comments made by beta readers – record every last one. It’s amazing how the bad comments sear into your soul yet the good ones seem to vanish.

Find your tribe. 

Writers and illustrators are a friendly bunch on the whole. You don’t have to be close friends with everyone – just a few who get what you’re feeling and hopefully will be able to remind you that the feelings pass. YOU WILL NOT FEEL LIKE THIS FOREVER (sorry for shouting, but this is important, and easily forgotten in the moment).

Consider coming off social media for a bit, or limit how long you spend on it.

 There’s that well-known quote about not comparing your everyday to everyone else’s showreel, and this is absolutely true. Even when you know this, however, it’s still hard to separate the two. I find I feel better just leaving my phone in another room for an afternoon/evening/day. Check out apps that help manage your access, so you don’t have to be strong all the time.

Remove the word ‘should’ from your thinking. 

No more ‘I should be writing’ or ‘I should be reading’ – do what you want to do. When you’re back up and running again you can push yourself, but when you’re feeling delicate, just go with what you fancy doing. Like tomato soup when you’ve got a cold, find something comforting to do when you feel low.

Find a new hobby

 Get out and meet people who have no idea about literary trends, what an agent does or writing in general. People who when you tell them you write, say, ‘oh, interesting’ then change the subject.

Sometimes reassessing can help. 

Check you are on the right path. Also, check you’re not turning down opportunities automatically. Remember Jeff Kinney; he wanted to be a newspaper cartoonist but that didn’t work out so he tried writing an illustrated book for kids. I often think, what if he hadn’t decided to try something new? What if he’d never made that choice? And so, checking around you for new routes might be a way of rediscovering your joy or opening new doors. 

Slow down

Re-read an old favourite, watch a movie, drink a quiet cup of tea, spend time with your family or friends or pet, get lost in a box set, go for long walks, plan a holiday – anything that you enjoy doing but slower. Really enjoy being in that moment without thinking you should be anywhere else. 

Self care

Imagine yourself as your own friend and give yourself the kind of advice and love reserved for only the dearest people in your life.

 Now you might think this type of blog doesn’t sit well in a series on ‘resilience’ but resilience isn’t just toughness. We aren’t automatons who churn out content, we’re human beings who put their heart and soul into their work. And rejections and disappointments can hurt like a physical wound, so part of playing the long game is knowing when to rest. Like an athlete, who is still determined and focussed but rests when they have an injury, so we can take time to care for ourselves, to rest and heal before getting up to create again. 

Be kind to yourselves. 

Kate Mallinder is author of the upcoming Summer of No Regrets and novice self-carer who is slowly finding her way. 

If you want to read more, Kate’s writing blog is
Her brand new website is
Or you can find her on Twitter: @KateMallinder and Instagram: @kate.mallinder

Header image credit: ijeab/Freepik

1 comment:

  1. A thoughtfully written and helpful article - thanks Kate. I'm taking a short break from writing at the moment and have been feeling guilty about it, but you're right - I really shouldn't feel that way. We all need a break from time to time.


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