Sunday, October 26, 2008

The care and feeding of writers


Have you got your meals frozen in the fridge? Got bottles of your beverage of choice stashed away?

During NaNo, many people work very hard at becoming hermits, holing themselves away, cranking out those words until all hours.
We forego exercise, sleep and a lot of common sense.
But that's neither sustainable nor the way to great fiction. So with NaNo less than a week away, here are some tips on taking care of you while writing hard.
  • Eat your meals. It may be tempting to skip meals to write that one extra scene, those extra 200 words. But don't. Your body needs fuel, and if it's not getting any, it'll start eating itself, literally! Especially keep your blood sugar up. Your brain runs on sugar. But...
  • Don't pig out on the junk. I love chocolate as much as the next writer, but if you've got your bowl of sugar-coated choc morsels next to your keyboard, you may as well be inhaling lard. Those little sugar bombs are perfectly designed to be eaten mindlessly and with only minimal enjoyment. If you're a keyboard muncher, opt for something that will fuel you, like a trail mix (pure brain food!), chopped up vegie sticks (if you get cravings for crunchy), rice crackers or even some raisins for that sweetness
  • Drink enough. And I mean drink something that hydrates your body. Caffeine drinks dehydrate the body, so if you're thirsty, having a cuppa won't help you. If you can't stomach teh thought of having water by itself (because that's where fish... you know), have some cordial (you could have a different flavour every day of NaNo, just for fun!), herbal tea (if you say you don't like herbal tea, you haven't been trying hard enough) or sparkling water to make you feel that extra bit Euro.
  • Take a break. I mean it. Step away from the keyboard every hour at least for some 10 minutes of walking, stretching and focusing your eyes elsewhere. Look out the window. Walk around the block. Clear your head, relax your eyes and give your muse (or whoever creates your scenes inside your head) a chance to jump around, too.
  • Reward, don't punish. Oh noes, you didn't make your word goal today! You're such a bad writer! Baloney. You're a great writer, because you've put words on paper (virtually or literally, doesn't matter). Reward yourself. Do something nice and relaxing to teach yourself that working hard will bring rewards. maybe don't reward yourself with chocolate, but why not have a sliding scale of rewards? Every day you write, you get to do something fun. Every day you make word count, you accumulate points towards a treat at the end of the month. The more points you get, the bigger your treat will be. If you win NaNo, have a mini vacation. If you can't afford to go anywhere for even the weekend, have a picnic in the park as your vacation. You deserve it.
How will you be taking care of yourself during NaNo? And what are your watch-out vices you need to keep in check?
For me, I'm stocking up on snack vegies and sunscreen (I'll be doing most of my writing outside, away from online distractions). I'm having a holiday during NaNo (and intend to write at night in my hotel room).
I'm going to be watching out for sacrificing sleep in order to make word count. And you?

6 comments:

Monique Wood said...

Hi Kiki,

Food certainly makes the writing flow better for me. I tend to snack alot when I write, except when I'm on a long roll and can't stop for anything.

I must confess I do resort to a bit of coffee, maybe hot chocolate, and something naughty like biscuits! But I find the best thing is a banana - fills you up for quite a while so you can ignore your tummy and focus on writing!!

Monique Wood said...

Hi Kiki,

Food certainly makes the writing flow better for me. I tend to snack alot when I write, except when I'm on a long roll and can't stop for anything.

I must confess I do resort to a bit of coffee, maybe hot chocolate, and something naughty like biscuits! But I find the best thing is a banana - fills you up for quite a while so you can ignore your tummy and focus on writing!!

Sandie Hudson said...

I've told my hubby we are having salads and quick easy meals during November. To hot for stews, that's a bit of a bugger, I love stews.

I'll have my fruit and water by my computer, oh and my coffee during my breaks. Have to have my mocha, no biscuites and lollies though, I'm trying to lose weight not put it on.

Great post Kiki and all so very important at any time when we are writing. But more so during November.

Sandie

Kiki said...

Well, aren't you girls virtuous!
Looks like you're all set to be fueled for NaNo. ^_^

Eleni Konstantine said...

Really good and sensible advice Kiki -- too bad sometimes when in 'the flow', good and sensible for one's own health flies out the window!!! Well I've got a reminder for me to get up and about. I don't snooze it too often ;)))

Diane said...

yes it will be lots of salads for dinner for us as well during Nano, wonder if I can afford a new BBQ so he can do the cooking for a change.

Hey, and who said I can't have chocolate? Need chocolate. Can't write without it. that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

But I'll probably be drinking about 2 litres of water a day. That's the usual for me at work and lots of toilet breaks, gets me away from the computer.

Rewards? Well, I have my writers xmas party on the 22nd and my birthday on the 23rd so hopefully, I will be rewarded then.