by Kathryn Graham
What’s a writer’s most important instrument? Is it a pen? A notebook? How about a laptop? Or is it your butt, the proverbial ‘butt in seat’ thing?
Bottom line, yourl butt is you, and you happen to be a physical body on a physical plane. I know my body is my most cherished instrument because right now I have a crick in my neck that’s making this article tough to write. It’s like Xena cut off the flow of blood to my brain except that instead of Xena, it was a shitty mattress, a flattened pillow, and a 40 hour a week desk job.
Many people, myself included, don’t treat their bodies right. Writers are more susceptible to this because of the nature of writing. If you’re sitting for long hours pounding away at a keyboard, you’re likely hurting your spine, potentially not eating or depriving yourself of sleep, and any other number of vices in the name of the written word.
So how do we take care of ourselves while also devoting ourselves to this sedentary craft? Here’s a few things that I’m going to be trying:
- Get some sunshine. You need the vitamin D. You could also take supplements, but you might as well just take the laptop outside or sit near a window for a little while.
- Eat healthier. I know it’s easy to warm up a five minute hot pocket (and you need that time to write!), but heavy or bad food is harder to digest, makes you tired, and will make you less sharp. If you have no time or you’re in a groove, before you sit down, grab something quick that you don’t detest – an avocado, pistachios, a granola bar, an orange. Here’s some good ideas. (And more tips on how to be a healthy writer).
- Get good sleep. Invest in a good mattress and pillow. Make sure you have as close to ideal sleep conditions as possible (no light, the right temperature, nix the caffeine 5 hours before bed, keep a regular sleep schedule). Do your best to make sure that you get enough rest so that when you wake you’re alert and ready to write.
- Stretch out. Even if all you’re doing are chair stretches for ten minutes. Set a timer and do it regularly throughout your stint in the chair. (This one I can vouch for)
- Hey for that matter, get a good chair or a standing desk. Whatever works best for you. Nothing worse than a chair that gives you saddle sores or bends your spine out of shape.
- Walk around for a while. Bonus: This can help you generate or shake loose some ideas if you’re stuck. It’s as if physically moving helps you move through your brain.
- Stay hydrated. Don’t just drink coffee, tea, or alcohol as you write. Add a glass of water every now and then.
- Massage. We westerners filed this under a ‘luxury’ service because it feels so good. The thing is it feels so good because it’s good for you. All of those aches and pains you’re suffering can distract you in addition to making you miserable. Loosening up your muscles will loosen up a lot more in your head too. Massages are practically a necessity when you think about it.
It’s the usual sorts of things health experts and scientists say to do. I’ve just scaled it down to a minimum because that’s all I’m willing to do right now. If you have more to add to this list, I’m all ears. As you can probably tell, I’m writing this mainly for myself, but it will hopefully be of service to any of you other long suffering bodies out there.
Sure it seems self-explanatory, but maybe you need to hear it again. If you’re not feeling well, you’re less likely to be as productive, to have as much energy as you need, and to be able to write for as long as you’d like to. Breakdowns of the body can sometimes be pushed through, but they can also stop you cold. Why torment yourself when it’s so easy to do the bare minimum to keep yourself going?
So if you needed another reason to take some baby steps toward a healthier you, here’s another one: It will help your writing.
Kathryn is a Contributing Writer to TVWriter™. Learn more about Kate HERE