Are You Taking Care of This First?

Want to know the hardest thing about writing? For me, anyway?

It’s the taking-care-of-myself part.

Yet, that part is crucial, because high-quality writing is heavily influenced by good health.

If you’re well-rested, physically fit, calm, and content, your creativity and efficiency soar.

If you’re sleep-deprived, mad, sad, hungry, or stressed … your writing suffers.

Unfortunately, I tend to identify with that latter list more often than the former. After all, my reality includes three kids under the age of five. I can’t walk two steps without tripping over a toy train or a jar full of live grasshoppers. A good night’s sleep means four hours of uninterrupted snoozing.

Over the years, I’ve learned if I want to write anything worth reading, I have to compartmentalize my daily stresses and challenges. And, I have to treat my mind and body like my most valuable business assets.

That means making the effort to invest in my health.

Here’s what I’ve found most effective, and what I recommend you do:

  • Create a healthy work setup. If you plan to spend a lot of time writing, you’ll benefit from an ergonomic setup. A chair that puts your thighs parallel with the floor is a good start. Standing desks are also helpful. I have my keyboard attached to a moveable arm so I can sit or stand when I type.
  • Move around a lot. You already know exercise is important to health, but that’s especially the case for writers, since we tend to be stationary during most of the day.

    A good technique is to get up every 30 minutes and move around for five minutes. I have a trampoline in my office for just that purpose. Gets the blood pumping, you know?

  • Eat well. Obviously, healthy food feeds your brain. Sugar and caffeine aren’t the best long-term solutions for fuel. Water will always be your friend. Easy snacks like nuts, carrots, and energy bars refuel you without layering on the pounds.

    If you absolutely need something sweet, fruit pie beats out just about every other dessert. (Think brain-boosting antioxidants!)

  • Like and love others. Positive social connections are vital to your mental well-being. And mental well-being is key for focused writing.

    So, call up that good friend you haven’t seen in months and schedule a coffee date. Ditch the negative friend who always gets on your nerves. Tell the people you love most how important they are to you. Try to strike up short conversations with people you see when you run to the store or the bank. Simple, friendly interactions go a long way in keeping your outlook bright.

  • Sleep. It’s simple. Basic. Universal. And totally irreplaceable.

    Two years ago, I started getting up at four in the morning. It was the only way to get uninterrupted writing time. But it only worked because I was asleep by 9 pm.

It’s pretty easy to eat junk food, stay up late watching movies, and sit still all day.

But none of those things will accelerate your path to paid writing.

So, take the time to invest a little TLC in your own health. In return, you’ll get a massive boost in your creativity and productivity.

Tomorrow I’ll talk about the two best ways to invest in your image so you look great in real life and on paper.

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Published: June 24, 2014

8 Responses to “Are You Taking Care of This First?”

  1. Good stuff Mindy.

    I like green smoothies for nutrition.

    And working out about mid day. I find around lunch I'm ready to change tasks and a mid day CrossFit session three days a week works for me. Plus it gets me out of the house.

    I'm also a big fan of meditation. Being raised in the south, it was something I was very reluctant to try. However, after doing research on meditation, I'm a firm believer in the health and well being benefits it provides for such a short time investment.

    Sean McCool

  2. Good article Mindy. For me it starts at 5 AM. Make a coffee, read for a few minutes then one hour of meditation. Miss this and all bets are off for the rest of the day.

    David Tomen

  3. I find music keeps me upbeat and productive. I play smooth jazz any time I'm at the computer. Anything without words works for me.

    I have just completed my full-time move to a fifth-wheel RV and am in the fortunate position whereby I can get up and go for a walk whenever I want. I try to do it hourly.

    Whatever works, its worth the effort!

    JimBob from Canada

  4. Hi Mindy, Early in the Accelerator program I read that getting up & moving around every 30 minutes improved productivity. Walk into the next room, upstairs - anything as long as you moved from your sitting position.

    I use a kitchen timer set for 30 mins. I'm only allowed into the kitchen to get water and leave the biscuits alone!

    My productivity is through the roof. At the end of the day I've achieved everything I set out to do, I'm physically better and my house is clean and tidy - bonus!

    Guest (Lesley Renwick)

  5. Before breakfast,after brushing teeth etc., try a few yoga postures for 30-60 mins. Thenjust sit for 15-20 mins. and let your brain just wander, without you responding or doing anything but breathing. Then YOU choose your day's activities.
    Try it and see then just how smoothly your life flows.

    barrys

  6. Great article Mindy. Further to David's comments though, you're missing one more essential piece - at least two cups of coffee, especially at 4AM :)

    Guest (Steve)

  7. Great article! Your comment about fruit pies reminded me of my favorite "dessert." I simply put a cup or so of my favorite frozen fruit into a small saucepan and heat on medium until it's warm, add a tablespoon or less of brown sugar, a sprinkle of cinnamon, a bit of grated ginger root, and that's it.

    It may not be sweet enough for some, but I have had Type 1 diabetes since age 12, so I am accustomed to less sugar than most, I imagine. The flavors of cinnamon and ginger mean I don't miss the sugar.

    Mary Meant

  8. Mindy you have a great article! The one thing I would add is a good multivitamin. I have been a herbal and nutrition nut for years. I need my vitamins!
    Also I have found that Bilberry capsule once a day helps with the eye strain and I don't reach for my "cheaters" except when I am out.
    My remedy for the blahs is to add a teaspoon of dark apple cider vinegar to my glass of water once or twice a day. I grew up drinking this so I don't think a lot about it but I know it has kept me from getting seriously sick while I take care of those seriously sick.

    jobeth


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