Do you agree that to be productive a writer needs a degree of good health?
Writing stresses the mind and the body. Whether first draft or final edits, the brain is exercised by constant choices and decisions. We must sort through thousands of words each day and make decisions about each. Which ones will stay on the page? How will this word affect the story in its past, its present and its future? Is the pacing spot on or is the pacing lacking? Are my characters acting logically, given their personalities?
The myriad of judgment calls boggles the mind.
Then there’s marketing and administrative work and family. Marketing (including social media and a personal website) can gobble up time and energy if we’re not careful. Today’s writer is under tremendous stress. Lack of energy, a harried feeling can tear at one’s health. Responsibilities can drain energy and leave none for the fun part—writing a novel. Good health can break down if we’re not diligent.
What to do?
Over the years, I’ve learned that the basis for good health is a positive mindset. You have to like yourself and be happy with your life as it is.
Being happy at where you’ve arrived on your life’s journey doesn’t mean you no longer have goals for the future. To the contrary, those desires/goals are a positive stimulus for good health, as well as essential to your ambitions as an author. These yearnings for new achievements and recognition are what get us up in the morning. They keep us excited to start our writing. Keep us focused.
Having established a base line of happiness for my unfolding life, I then look to intersperse happy thoughts and fun activities throughout my day. One such fun activity could be playing favorite music in the background while writing. Another could be getting up every couple of hours to walk outside and get a breath of fresh air. Another fun activity could be taking a few minutes to watch the antics of a squirrel walking the telephone line outside the office window. Perhaps you’ve gotten a bouquet of flowers. Make sure you glance at their restfulness a few times. Our spirits need a moment of relief and an influx of the positive to lift the burden of stress we put on our bodies.
For me, being healthy and staying as happy as possible throughout the day are not won by leaps and bounds. Baby steps are called for—any little thing that will brighten my day—small distractions to make me smile. If something big and wonderful unexpectedly drops into my day, I certainly don’t turn my back on this gift because it doesn’t fit into my baby-steps philosophy. I embrace the joy of it.
What if nothing goes right?
If I wake up to one of those days when everything falls apart, I make a point to look for the silver lining on whatever cloud shadows my day. If I can find something to make me feel a little better, I take it. If I can’t, I keep as positive a mindset as possible until the shadows leave. Patience is necessary. “This, too, shall pass” becomes my mantra.
Eventually, life changes and the clouds and shadows lose their grip. For me, if I allow myself to drop into despondency because of setbacks, it takes me a very long time to work my way back. The justification I might feel to be miserable because of a setback is not worth the extra work I’ll give myself to again become a productive writer. Negativity wears at my health. To keep me well and working on a manuscript, I need the most positive thoughts I can find. I make every effort to get happy as quickly as I can—even if “quickly” means baby steps.
What about pills and supplements and medical devices?
Those may be a necessary part of our systems of health. In my experience, layering them onto a base founded upon a joyful writing experience brings me back to health faster than wallowing in unhappiness.
What about you?
Do you agree that whatever you want to do with your life is best accomplished when built on a foundation of happiness?