6 Jun 2014

How to keep healthy while writing your novel

Picture courtesy of Eustaquio Ochoa

This week has been very exciting for me as I’ve finished my novel “Time Bank.” When I say finish I mean I’ve sent a draft of it to friends for feedback on which to base the next draft. Fingers crossed…No doubt I’ll have to make changes to it but hey, I’m a step closer to my goal.

Sticking to a writing routine has been hard at times. Well, all the time. It can be tough to focus and even tougher to try and keep healthy while spending too many hours in front of a computer. So, I thought I’d share some of the wisdom I’ve acquired during the process and give some tips on how to keep healthy while writing your novel:

Eat well: When you’re pressed for time it’s easy to forget how important a good diet is. Not just for your general health but for your productivity! A Kitkat every couple of hours isn’t eating well. Neither is a whole pack of rice crackers. None of that will keep you satisfied, you know it. You also know how bad it feels when your only stomach content is crisps, mouldy hummus and a cereal bar. Try to stock up on food before you start your big project. If you can, get someone else to help you with the grocery shopping. At the end of the day, you’re busy doing important work, i.e. writing your masterpiece.

Get enough sleep: This is a hard one to achieve when you’re trying to get 2,000 words a day on top of your office work, your family, and maybe even keeping in touch with friends. But it pays off. I have forced myself to work while being exhausted only to take ages to write something that, had I been well rested, would have taken me a third of the time.

Distract yourself: As you try to manage the pressure you’ve put on yourself, you may start to bite your nails, a bad habit you thought you had left behind in your teenage years. If you want to avoid ending up with stumps instead of fingers, try holding a stress ball while you do all the thinking you need to do when you’re not typing away.

Get out of the house every day: You should ideally do this first thing in the morning. Or else you won’t leave the house at all and that won’t feel good, I promise. A bit of fresh air will clear your mind and even inspire you.

Limit caffeine, alcohol and smoking: These may seem like good ways to relax or to increase your productivity but can seriously damage your health. As a caffeine-addict myself, I’ve realised that I often don’t even drink the whole cup of coffee. I enjoy taking a break to prepare it, the smell of coffee and the taste of it but I’ve realised I get the same if I make myself a small cup.

Stretch: This is advice you’ll have heard before if you work in an office environment. Sitting at a desk for long periods of times is not good for your back. So, make sure you take regular breaks, get up and stretch. It only takes a few minutes. In fact, next time you feel tempted to have another cup of coffee or cigarette during your writing routine, you could try stretching exercises. That may be all you need.

Meditate: Meditation helps you improve your focus and therefore helps you save time. There’s evidence that it can also help reduce stress levels and a few minutes of meditation a day can actually have an effect. I’d recommend Mindfulness as a useful meditation technique. As you need to be time-conscious, why not meditate while going for a walk? You can find some information on Mindfulness techniques here: http://www.mindfulness.org.au/mindfulness-in-action/

Happy writing!