Lets talk about you…and me. Not me and you personally, not like we are getting into a strange relationship with boundaries we haven’t quite defined yet because we haven’t had ‘the talk’. I mean lets talk about writers and what people like us can do to ensure we are being the best we can be.
Now for once I must point out that I am not talking about writing better either, I mean taking care of yourself in everything outside of writing so that your writing doesn’t suffer.
A lot of you might be saying things like ‘I’m a fully grown adult Elliot, I know how to look after myself’ or ‘Don’t preach to me MOM’ but this seems to be a hot topic among writers on the internet so who am I to shun the suggestion. As a self respecting writing blogger I think it is my duty, neigh, my responsibility to touch upon the subject of ‘writer self care’.
So let me just get one thing straight before I jump into the meat of this issue. I do not personally think that writers are particularly delicate or in any other way different to any other type of person that might make us bad at looking after ourselves. With that being said I believe where a lot of the concern over a lack of self care comes from is the work involved in writing a novel. Writing a novel means sitting down at a desk, or in your car with a laptop or even in bed with your laptop for hours and hours each day. It also means spending a lot of time plotting and planning and trying to think of ways your hero can kill the impossibly tough bad guy without it being a massive cop out like ‘love’ being the secret *cringes*. Couple with that the fact that most first time novelists also have a full time job which may involve sitting down that adds up to one thing. A hell of a lot of time spent sat down not moving, maybe eating cakes and almost certainly not sleeping enough. Once all the work is done you are probably so tired you just want to sit down in front of the TV, not go to the gym or cook your five a day. So following are my top tips for staying healthy and happy when writing your novel.
1: EXERCISE, writers are just like all other people. Though we might be pale and indoorsy that is no reason not to exercise at least semi regularly. There are enough YouTube aerobic videos to keep you pumping and grooving until the day you die if you start now so the chances are you will find at least one or two you can manage to do. If you find my previous stereotype offensive and you are not at all pale or indoorsy then I suggest a good hearty run.
I know you’re stressed and you don’t think there are enough hours in the day for everything you need to get done but there are…and if there aren’t there is always tomorrow right? Realistically there are almost certainly points of your day when you are ‘working on your book’ that are actually just sitting in front of the screen not writing or even really thinking. This is the perfect time to bang in a few sets of squats or laps around the room. Sometimes getting your heart pumping will actually help you feel better and clear your head making the writing come more naturally.
2: READ. A lot of people have a tendency to stop reading when they are writing but that is really one of the worst things you can do. Reading is much more relaxing than watching TV even if it is a little more difficult. It has the added benefit that if you read physical books and write on a computer that you are actually letting your eyes get some much needed rest from looking at a screen.
You will remind yourself why you are writing, you want to write something as good as whatever you are reading and if you stick to it you really can.
I truly believe that you cannot be a writer if you have never read and the more you read the better you will get. People worry too much about ‘unconscious plagiarism’. Plagiarism is never unconscious, you will always know if you are stealing an idea and the chances are you won’t be doing it from the thing you are currently reading but some beloved childhood tale.
3: HEALTHY SNACKS. This is a big one in my opinion, when you are sat down at a desk for hours writing you can easily fall into habits like having a cup of tea next to you, maybe that tea has some biscuits with it. Before you know it you have added several hundred or even thousand calories to your daily intake and if you can no longer fit into your desk chair you are probably guilty of this.
The only way in my opinion to combat this is to just not have junk food in your house. If you must snack buy carrot sticks or get some low GI berries, do not turn to the chocolate and the biscuits.
If they are there you will eat them when you are stressed so best to just not buy them in the first place.
Well that’s it for this week kids, if you have any subjects you want me to talk about let me know.
Looking forward to talking with you all again the same time next week.