Writing Life

The Importance of Setting Boundaries for Optimal Success by Irene Roth

Successful working writers need to develop two different kinds of boundaries. We need to create physical and mental boundaries. In this article, I will discuss both and the importance of each for writers. I will also explore tips on how you can set concrete boundaries in your writing life, regardless of what else is going on in your life.

Without boundaries, writers can’t be successful writers because there are so many forces that conspire to catapult a writer’s progress. I am on the fence on which boundaries are the hardest for writers to assert since both are difficult in their own ways. However, regardless, I believe that we can each perhaps develop one of the tips outlined below in both the physical and mental boundary designation to be on our way to writing consistently and successfully.

Physical Boundaries

One of the reasons that physical boundaries may be easier to define is because they are external and observable. It is usually easier, at least on the surface, to set up such boundaries.  It goes without saying that it is crucially important for writers to ensure that their physical boundaries are established and that they can create some solid space for themselves for their writing.

There are several types of physical boundaries. They are as follows:

Computer Boundaries

Do you have to share your computer with another family member? This could cause a lot of difficulties for you. Also, as a writer you have privacy issues that you will want to uphold too. This is all a part of your physical boundaries. You may feel infringed upon and unhappy to be giving your personal computer to anyone else, even if it is only on a borrow basis. So, keep your computer to yourself and don’t share it with anyone.

Noise Boundaries

Can you tolerate noise outside of your office as you write? Are your drapes drawn so that the sun and people passing by your house won’t be a distraction? How easily distracted are you by noise, screaming, sirens and more?

Many writers are very easily distracted by noise and commotion. If you are such a writer, develop the proper environment in which to write so that you can write in a quiet environment. Take steps to ensure that you have the proper kinds of sounds as you write. You may want to set up a CD with soothing nature sounds or soft music as you write. Experiment to determine what kinds of sounds, if any, you need to be most successful.

Exercise Boundaries

All writers need to exercise every day given their sedentary work at their desks. So, you must ensure that you get a bit of exercise every day.  Exercising and writing will go hand in hand because the more you exercise the more productive you will feel. We all need a different amount of exercise to be at our best. So, experiment with what you need and then follow through for optimal health and productivity.

Furniture Boundaries

To be at your best and to do your best writing you need to have ergonomic furniture that is suited to your body and any physical requirements that you may have. If you have special needs because of arthritis or other stiffness, take time to buy exactly what you need to write at your best. It will give you GREAT dividends later on. And you will have gained a lot of self-knowledge about yourself as well.

 Space Boundaries

One of the most important things for writers to ensure that they have a space of their own in which to write.  This is especially important if you live with a lot of people in your home. But what is more, if you can have a space of your own, regardless of how small, you can be most successful.

Ideally, if you can have a room of your own to write that would be ideal. But if you don’t, perhaps devoting one corner of a quiet room for your writing would be ideal. If that isn’t possible, perhaps set up a fold-up table that you can use to write at. Then when you have to pack up for the day, put all of your writing together and tuck it aside so that you don’t lose things and so that no one will be liable to read your work.

Therefore, writers must create these physical boundaries for optimal success. In fact, you will be most successful if you take the time and patience to create these boundaries.  So, take out some time today to reflect on whether you have these boundaries in place so that you can be healthy to write and be creative.

Mental Boundaries

Mental boundaries have to do with our thoughts. In order for writers to feel fulfilled as writers, they need to develop mental boundaries which enable them to think their own thoughts and form our own opinions. It’s what gives writers the capacity to create, pull words out of thin air, and produce the words that will complete manuscripts.

Mental boundaries also give us the courage and self-discipline to rethink thoughts and opinions that don’t resonate with us.

So, here are several ways to assert your mental boundaries.

First, don’t let others impose their thoughts and opinions on you.

In other words, you should not allow others to tell you how to think and feel. You should develop your own thoughts at all times, and if you don’t you should take the time to step back to accurately determine what it is you really think!

Second, say what you think, and don’t worry about what others think.

Create healthy mental boundaries in your personal and writing life. When you hold back your true feelings and thoughts, you set yourself up for not honoring who you truly are both as a writer and as a person.  And this will fragment who you are as a person and a writer.

Third, write what you think without worrying about rejection or ridicule.

Many of us are influenced by others in our thoughts and worry about how we will be viewed once people find out what we truly think about X or Y. But if you have developed healthy mental boundaries, you’ll be able to honour your thoughts without worrying what others think.

Fourth, express your thoughts and feelings openly without fear.

How many writers are afraid to bear their souls to others?  Probably quite a few of you.  This isn’t healthy to your overall emotional equilibrium and well-being.  If you can share just enough information with others, that’s great. However, if you overshare information with others, this signals that need to develop thicker boundaries.

Fifth, you should try not to share all your intimate thoughts with others.

People can take advantage of you if you do this. Instead, keep your most intimate thoughts to yourself except if you’re talking to a close friend or family member. This is important to maintain mental boundaries and to be at your best as a writer.

Developing mental boundaries is not easy at first.  However, with determination and practise, you can set boundaries for yourself and get a lot more writing done.

Setting boundaries is one of the most important things that you can do as a writer to ensure that you are successful. This can be especially hard during the COVID-19 pandemic when family members are all at home. However, take some time to reflect on what kinds of boundaries you need to firmly set your best.

For more tips on how to be a successful writer, please visit my website at https://irenesroth.wordpress.com/

(Image: Copyright Nastassia Yakushevich, Deposit Photo, https://depositphotos.com/49786349.html)


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Irene S. Roth has a master’s degree in Philosophy and Psychology from York University, Ontario Canada and is currently using her expertise to write ...