Huge apology for missing my slot last week. Personal matters cropped up and I was unable to write a post last Monday. The rest of The Novel Girls did a terrific job in talking about relieving stress, so rather than try to talk about both last week and this week's topic, I'll just move on to my take on the writer's diet. Or, rather, THIS writer's diet.
When I'm knee-deep into a writing a book, time gets away from me. My sleeping schedule becomes erratic, which means normal meal times fly out of the window. In fact, there are many days I flat-out forget to stop what I'm doing to get a meal. This is not good, writer or not, and one of my continuous goals is to create a schedule I can stick to.
And there are days, sometimes weeks, that I'll do terrific. Most of the time, however, I'm just not that great at it. When I was in the midst of writing A STROKE OF MAGIC, a very good author friend warned me to start taking a good multi-vitamin, to focus on fresh fruits, vegetables, and proteins in order to keep myself sharp, to keep myself healthy. I listened to her, and then went right back to what I'd been doing: barely sleeping, grabbing maybe one meal a day, and living mostly on coffee.
By the time I turned the book in, I was completely wiped out. I had zero creativity left, my brain was numb, and I spent the next couple months doing hardly anything writing related. Not that I didn't try, because I did. But I'd drained myself, and it took a while to "refill the well."
You'd think it wouldn't be so hard to set a schedule and keep to it. But when I'm embroiled in the telling of a story, I don't want to stop. Either the words are flowing and I don't want to break for worry the flow will stop, or the words aren't flowing and I don't want to stop because I need to figure out why the story isn't coming out. And I need to fix that--as soon as possible, please.
However, my friend is one-hundred percent right. If I don't take breaks for food, exercise, sleep, and other things--like visiting with family, friends, etc., then the entire process becomes more difficult. It's easy to see this when I have a little distance from whatever project has carried me away, but it's a lot harder to take the appropriate action when I'm actually in the midst of the project.
My solution? I've finally put a timer on my desk. I set it for two hours. It's always two hours, now. When the time is up, I stand up...actually pull myself away from my desk, and do whatever it is that needs doing. If it's for a meal, I sit down at the table instead of eating at my desk. In addition to meals, however, the two hour timer forces me to walk away--even if it's only for fifteen minutes.
I've found that by taking better care of myself, both through diet and taking regular breaks, I'm more alert and creative when I'm sitting at the computer.
Of course, that doesn't mean it's always easy, because it isn't. And it doesn't mean I don't have a stash of chocolate hidden away. Because I do. Just don't tell my kids!
As far as my actual diet, well...some weeks are healthier than others. What can I say? Sometimes a leafy green salad just isn't what I want. :)
Mostly, I try to stick to fresh fruits, vegetables, proteins, with a few complex carbs thrown in for good measure. But there are days when nothing but a delivered to my door pizza will do. And I think that's okay.
Have a great week!