Below you’ll find sections oN:
housesitting for writers
My Favorite Planner that helped me write nearly 1/2 a million words in less than a year
tips for Ergonomics to keep you in fighting shape for your books.
The Best self planner helped me write a whole book - 149k words - in one month. And nearly half a million words in less than a year.
Full disclosure: I love this planner so much that I became an affiliate. If you do decide to snag a Best Self for your best self, then here is my personal link.
I love this baby SO MUCH. I encourage all my writer friends, students, and clients to get this. A planner is a personal choice, so you have to choose the one that's right for you (I used to be really into the Passion Planner, which is also great, but made me hustle too hard). This one is based in positive psych, so it has a combo of healthy goal setting with opportunity for daily reflection, gratitude both morning and evening, as well as a quote, and hourly schedule. It's quarterly, which is super helpful for reaching your writing goals. It breaks things down so they feel attainable. I feel a lot less overwhelmed with it. It's really amazing (and pretty!). Check out the website for a free download to try it before you buy it. Let me know if you have questions!
in 2018-2019, i embarked on an epic journey of living internationally (and domestically) rent-free for nearly a year. You can do this, too: as a short 2-week stint, or a longer stretch. Even if you have kids. Think your own personal international or domestic writing retreat, a cheaper way to do research for a book, a break to fill your creative well.
This is the ultimate creative life hack for writers.
:: In this time, I wrote four books, did deep research for two of them that required i visit archives and sites in three countries, and paid off nearly all my debt (rent-free, remember?). On the way, I visited some of the wonders of the world, crossed a few things off my bucket list, traipsed about beautiful cities, played with some great animals, and lived in other people’s international homes. I even, for a time, had my very own English garden. ::
You might have questions about how to manage your writing while abroad, about traveling alone or with others, about the nitty gritty of what to do with your car etc. at home, or how to get insurance, or make money, or the dynamics of caring for a stranger’s home and pets, or any number of things. The housesitting adventure requires a lot of planning if it’s long-term. If it’s SHORT term, like you’re doing it for a few weeks or months, it’s more like an extended vacation. No matter what you’re looking for, I’m excited to help you! And for extra inspiration, check out my SitsAhoy! Insta, which my husband posts to regularly while we’re abroad to see what the housesitting life is like.
Here Are A Few Quick Links To Get Exploring
Nomador: Primarily for French housesits, but there are other good things on there. This is great for famlies, especially, because I see a lot of housesits on there for large country homes that allow families to sit. Your kids can play with chickens while you write! What’s not to like?!
House Carers: We’ve booked sits with them - their site is frustrating, but we had great experiences come out of it.
Housesitters America: This is domestic-only. I haven’t booked through them, but they are reputable.
International Health Insurance (for longterm sitting): We use IMG and it’s the best we could find. They also have an option to use it in the States if you plan to go home for a bit. Note: it’s very hard to find insurance that covers pre-existing conditions. You only need this if you are going to be out long, or if your current provider doesn’t have a good international option for you.
International Health Insurance (short term sitting): World Nomads is a company I’ve used for years for short-term travel. Easy and affordable.
Scott’s Cheap Flights: Extra-great deals on flights if you can be fairly flexible
Cell Phones: When you’re abroad for more than a week or so, keeping your plan in the States is just not affordable. Verizon was charging $10/day. So if you’re going to be out for a few weeks or more, I recommend an International SIM card if you’re moving through a lot of different countries, or getting the best SIM card you can upon arrival. This one I’ve linked to is great, though it doesn’t work in every country. It just depends where you’re going. (Inwi is the company we use in Morocco, since this SIM doesn’t cover Maroc, and it’s amazing). Note: you don’t need to use data or minutes for calls home. Get your family and friends on WhatsApp and, as long as you have wireless, you’re good to go. Zoom is great for business—Skype is not reliable, especially in countries with weaker Internet.
Digital Nomad: This site has lots of excellent links to dive into. If you set up a Jazz Session with me, we can talk about the more viable options for making money remotely while abroad, if you’re not just going for a mini break.
Packing: If you’re going to do what I did, and stay abroad for a while, through various seasons and countries, my Housesitters Guide will help with this. But! I found this NY Times article before I left the States, and her suggestions were great. Not all-encompassing, and not meant for housesitting (we have a few special considerations), but really helpful.
European Long-Term Visa: The Schengen Zone is confusing. This guide is helpful, but I’ll break it down even more for your in my Housesitting Guide.
How To Hang With Cats: Before housesitting, I’d had very little experience with cats, except for cat-sitting for my neighbor. I am a total cat lady now and love them, but my first sit freaked me the hell out because the cat hissed at me and I was like WTF? I’m a dog lover, so I had to school myself. Now I have familiars the world over, but if you’re like me, I found this site helpful. And you thought you’d just be learning human languages! :)
More Resources on ergonomics coming soon!
Ever since I began writing full-time, my back has been in a bad state. And when I’m on deadline, I always have wrist and arm pain. It’s IMPERATIVE that you take good care of your body. I can’t tell you how many writer friends of mine have experienced debilitating pain—and so have I—from sitting too much, hunching over laptops, and generally not taking care of ourselves. This is SERIOUS.
Think of yourself as a musician who buys the best instrument they can to support their music. The care you put into investing in your computer should also be put into investing in ergonomics. You will pay MUCH more in money and pain if you don’t cough up some cash up front to sort yourself out.
I’m currently collecting advice from writer friends to share here, but here are a few ways to get started…
A few quick things:
Here’s a great guide from the NY Times on choosing a standing desk (yes, you need one). I’m buying one soon and will report back!
Get an ergonomic chair. Don’t write in bed or on the couch for too long. My chiropractor suggested the cheapie one at Staples and it works for me for now.
Get an ergonomic keyboard - seriously. You can get a great one at Staples for less than $100. It has SAVED my wrists.
Get an ergonomic mousepad (and mouse). Again, saved my wrists.
One of the best things I ever bought was a laptop stand. I chose this instead of getting a a monitor, though I might be getting one of those soon. This is the cheaper quick fix, and you can travel with it. Here’s the one I have and love.
You need to get up and walk around and stretch. Do five minutes of walking meditation. Keep your yoga mat unrolled by your desk so you remember to stretch out frequently.
Get regular adjustments with a good chiropractor. It has helped my back SO MUCH. Acupuncture might be good for you, too, but it’s the chiro that saved me.