It's too easy for a writer to treat her body like an afterthought.
It's just the mass of bones and muscles that keep our writing brains from scrabbling around on the ground, right?
Our fingers are simply the instruments our brains use to reach the keyboard, and mouths were clearly made for just one thing: Coffee reception.
It's too easy to fall into that trap, but I have a suspicion: A ridiculously healthy body just might be a writer's best weapon.
It hit me recently how easy and typical it is for me and my friends to all categorize ourselves as "Busy and Tired."
Suddenly I wondered: What would happen if I were, instead, Focused and Deeply Rested?
How clearly would I think if my body were at its best condition?
What would happen if my wrists weren't on the brink of carpal tunnel syndrome? What if I wasn't putting my back in permanent danger, and what if I wasn't burning my retinas out by staring at a screen without blinking?
Would I--shocking thought--actually be better able to do my job?
Would I think more clearly, and have more interesting ideas, and have more attention for each project? Maybe, you know, be a better writer?
I think it's pretty dang possible.
During a drafting marathon, it's SO easy to make your body suffer on behalf of your draft. But honestly, you might pay for it later.
I have a writing friend who totally fried her wrists in an attempt to meet an aggressive writing deadline... She ended up in physical therapy, and yeah, her writing had to sit on the back burner for a while. (Not to mention: OUCH.)
Can we maybe not make ourselves sick and broken in the pursuit of that 50,000th word? Can writing "The End" not kill us, please?
I know you're already keeping track of a lot. But maybe, consider loving your body a little during the remaining days of your drafting marathon.
Here's a list of some teeny tiny little moves toward health. It won't ask much from you, but your body will be THRILLED ... and it just might reward you with that plot breakthrough you've been begging for!
Give 'em a try:
- If you're writing longhand, try using markers instead of pens, because they slide over the page more easily. Good news for your wrists!
- Every fifty minutes, stand up from your desk for a five minute dance party. (Set a timer to remind yourself if need be!) Yes, you. Yes, really. Getting your blood moving around means more idea power, so get twirlin'!
- Better yet? Stand up every thirty minutes and just shake everything out! Or, if dancing isn't appealing, try these five simple yoga moves for a fantastic stretch. They always make me feel more awake!
- Protect your eyes by giving them a break too: look away from your screen for at least five minutes, every half hour. Go look out a window while you brainstorm your next paragraph. (I tend to get my best ideas away from the computer anyway!)
- Skip chocolate as a drafting snack (once in while, at least!), and fill up your bowl with celery sticks, carrots, red pepper slices, and hummus. (And grapes! And pomegranate arils! Go crazy!)
- Dare yourself to drink a big glass of water before you refill your coffee mug. (If you're really health-bonkers like me, grab a green juice now and then. Kale LOVES helping with your plot.)
- Can you stand and type? I plunk my keyboard on an upside-down trashcan and tip my screen up. Voilà! DIY standing desk! My brain feels instantly perkier.
- If you find you're always zoning out, give yourself a nap. Subconsciouses like to dance around while you're sleeping anyway: you might wake up to brilliance.
- And while we're talking about sleep: Send yourself to bed a half hour earlier: what you lose in drafting time, you'll regain in mental clarity. (This has worked SO well for me lately!)
It's not rocket science. None of this is shocking health news.
But I know that I need to forcibly remind myself, mid-draft, that my body doesn't just exist to write words down!
So here's my challenge to you: Try to do at least ONE THING each day that your body would genuinely thank you for. (No fibbing.)
And seriously, from one writer to another: Please don't burn out your body for the sake of your book. There are other ways to finish, which don't include totally trashing your self.
Okay, my lionhearted friend... back to those words! My celery sticks salute you.