The Healthy Writer

I walked through the doors of the local Tim Horton’s to meet my friend Josh for a night of writing bliss. Before I even sat down, or even said a word, he glanced up at me then looking taken aback.

“You got sleep last night didn’t you?” He asked. I nodded affirmatively.

Probably not the appropriate amount of sleep

I moved three weeks ago. My daughters were not sleeping (and still aren’t) for a variety of reasons, and I was spent on house projects, and lack of sleep. Through all of this I barely wrote. I ate terrible food, (insert your fast food kryptonite here) did not exercise (I was sanding wood floors and redoing my kitchen, however) and slept little.

Which brings me back to Josh’s comment at the beginning of the post. That night I wrote well. I put in eight hundred words on my novel, and when I reviewed them the next day they were better than I expected. This made me stop and think.

What would happen to my writing if I slept well all of the time? What would happen if I was a healthy writer?

I am not a health nut. I am not a person who obsesses over portion sizes and calories. But I can tell the difference in my body when I eat junk for a while and when I eat fresh produce and drink the proper amount of water. I don’t have caffeine head aches. I don’t have an upset stomach.

What would happen to my writing if I ate well all of the time? How would that impact my writing?

an Apple a day…

A month ago I ran a 5K race. It was very satisfying. I believe that the struggle of a sport or 5K builds motivation in other areas of life. Also, running, while sounding torturous, can be fun. It also gives me time to collect my thoughts and not be distracted, providing a great opportunity to mull over a particular part of my story.

What would happen to my writing if I exercised regularly?

These three things are not imperative to the writer. But, I believe being healthy may help me be a better writer. The master sleuth lived on opium and liquor, and the occasional embalming fluid. I wonder how he would have functioned had he ate fresh vegetables and got the proper amount of sleep?



Ideas On How To Overcome Writer’s Block

I am NOT a runner. However, after much contemplation I signed up to run a 5K race here in Grand Rapids called the Fifth Third River Bank Run. I did so because I have not done any strenuous physical activity since my last days of hockey at a charity ice hockey game at Van Andel arena over 2 years ago, and I wanted to get back in shape. Also, my work was paying, so I figured why not?

There is one catch with the company paying for the race, there was no backing out. If the employee recanted, woke up from the delusion of wanting to be a runner, or decided the 5K Kool-Aid wasn’t really THAT good, the individual would have to pay the company back for withdrawing from the race.

I know, I know. You were under the impression that I was writing about overcoming writer’s block. I am getting there.

Consider, what’s at stake if I withdraw. If I don’t do it, I have to pay back the $30 – $40 in registration fees I don’t want to pay. That’s a motivator. If I run the race with my coworkers and do awfully, that’s a motivator too (I know I shouldn’t care what other people think, but you take showers when you go to work, don’t you? Now back off!). Because I want to do well and have a tendency to be competitive, I am training to run it well as all of the times are posted for the wide world to see. So, there are a lot of motivators for me.

Now, on to the writing part.

Writer's Block

You are struggling. Life is a static buzz right? Dragging yourself to the keyboard carries so much weight you’d rather just sit on the couch. I know for me it was that way not too long ago and I had to challenge myself. That was the only way out for me.

Now, there are many reasons why you might be stuck and I bet they have nothing to do with the story. It could be a plot thing, but if that is the case, read a couple of books in your genre. If that doesn’t help, talk with a few writing friends about your struggles and in time, you’ll be fine.

It could be a life event. A death of a friend or family member, trouble at work, being fired from work, depression, an accident, or many life situations that cannot be changed or muscled through. These are terrible and inconvenient life happenings that suffocate anyone let alone someone trying to be creative in their free time.

To these two things I offer two responses.

Being Stuck in Your Story – When you are mired in a convoluted plot point and not wanting to face it, just race ahead to a part you want to write. It’s true that the main idea to keep in mind when you are writing your novel is your audience, but writing something you are passionate about is important too. Also, will you have an audience if you don’t have a novel? To this I say, get a little tenacity. Buck up mate!

When Life Events Derail – There is probably nothing that can be done to alleviate the uncontrolled stress or unfortunate circumstance in your life. There is no mucking through depression or a death of someone you care deeply about. There is nothing that can be talked through, though it might help a little.

If this is your case I have one suggestion. Be consistent. Set a time to sit down wherever you usually do to write your novels, short stories, sonnets, or blogs and go there at a set time each day or whatever time schedule might allow. If you don’t have time, elbow something out. You may find the rhythm of just being in the place you write helpful. If you cannot write anything you may find keeping a journal helpful. Plus as writers tend to share what they write, you might find someone in a similar circumstance that would find your thoughts helpful.

I hope you do not find these responses insincere or comical. I hope you are encouraged and clear some time to write today.