By Julie Wehmeyer
By its very nature, writing is a solitary experience. As writers, we spend hours sitting over our keyboards putting our thoughts into words; and while our minds are very active, our bodies, unfortunately, are not. It is easy to find ourselves falling into the rut of eating junk food, imbibing overly caffeinated and sugary drinks, and I won’t even mention alcohol! This combined with lack of exercise can spell disaster for both our health and well-being.
Below are ten suggestions to help avoid health and mental burnout.
We have been taught all our lives about the importance of exercise, but as writers, we often let this important aspect of our lives slide. It is imperative that you get up to move and walk around at least every 90 minutes to two hours, not just for your health, but for your productivity and creativity as well. Exercise and movement is important for brain function, it helps keep your metabolism in check, and it also ensures appropriate blood flow. Commit to exercising at least half an hour a day, even if it just a 30-minute walk around your neighborhood.
- Pace Yourself
Try to avoid procrastination! Deadlines can and will sneak up on you, and then you are forced to work like a possessed demon to get projects done on time. Avoid this. Spend half an hour at the start of your day prioritizing the work for that day. Make lists and stick to them!
- Eat Healthy
Most people know how to eat healthy, but with the plethora of yummy junk food and drinks that are available in stores today, it is one of the most difficult for many of us to do. One of the best bits of advice I ever received was, “just don’t keep junk food in the house.” Make sure you have healthy food to sustain you in your home, avoid snacking while working, and cut out soda and flavored drinks. If you must snack, keep healthy snacks around like grapes and other fruits. Boiled eggs are also great snack food as they help stabilize blood sugar. Take the pizza place off speed dial!
- Body Hygiene
Everyone has heard stories about the writers who never shower, shave, or brush their teeth, and work in their pajamas. Don’t be that person! Always be presentable! Your work will reflect your professionalism. Buy yourself some high-quality soaps and invest in some nice, comfortable, and presentable clothing.
- Drink Water!
This cannot be stressed enough. Start your day off with 8 ounces of water with some fresh squeezed lemon in it. Keep several bottles close at hand in your work area so you are not tempted to grab soda, coffee, or a glass of wine.
- Substance Abuse
There is a certain notion about the romance of being a writer. Many writers see themselves sitting at their desks, drinking wine or something stronger, and pouring out their souls.
Unfortunately, that does not always lead to inspired writing, but in fact leads to chaotic writing. Try to avoid drinking alcohol while working. Yes, sometimes alcohol can loosen that old writer’s block, but remember that most writing done under the influence will require a lot more rewriting. If you smoke, work on stopping. The saying, “Write drunk and edit sober,” is not always applicable and it doesn’t help your writing.
- Get Out and Socialize
Don’t be a hermit! Writers tend to be introspective, and it is easy to become so immersed in our work that we neglect to leave it, but you must. At least once a day, get out and see people. Even if that is just a short trip to the convenience store. It will help your productivity and mental health. If possible, I recommend taking your laptop to a coffee shop and or mall and working there from time to time. As humans, we need social contact!
- Don’t be Static
Change things up once in a while! Laptops make writing anywhere so easy, and the change of scenery will help your productivity. Try standing while you write. This is amazingly beneficial to your health and posture. If you can’t afford a standing desk, put some books on the kitchen counter to raise your laptop up, and write standing up in the kitchen. It will help strengthen your core.
Put those electronics away once in a while and unplug! As Timothy Leary said in the 60’s, “Turn on, tune in, drop out.” This will help manage your stress. Find a hobby that doesn’t involve writing such as gardening, woodworking, or cooking, and pursue it! Know your limits and try not to push past them too often.
Maintaining a good sleep schedule is perhaps one of the most important things you can do for yourself. Most adults need do not get enough sleep. Figure out how many hours you need to be at your best, and stick to that sleep schedule. This will help alleviate stress, blood sugar, and blood pressure issues. It also helps you with weight maintenance, and it will give you the stamina to get through your day!
Remember, it is okay to ask for help once in a while. You don’t have to do it all! If you find yourself in a rut with either your marketing, editing, or writing, Awen Books and More offers services to help you succeed.