I’ve made some changes to my daily writing routine which have – so far – paid off.
About a year ago I mentioned a podcast that had particularly resonated with me, Marathon training for the Fiction Writer by Stephen Lovely for the Writing University. He has lots of great insights into ‘preparing’ yourself for a life of writing, including how to interact with other people and how to structure your day.
He also looked at the emotional and physical side of things and had the very (sensible) suggestion that you have to take care of yourself if you’re a writer, sitting at home alone all day.
The main thing I took away from it was the notion of keeping your body and mind sharp and healthy for the long haul of writing that (hopefully) lies ahead of you.
Since then I’ve stepped up my exercise (from no exercise to running and recently circuit training) taken extra care with what I eat, and made some attempts to introduce a little ‘calm’ time.
I am a sucker for any sort of game – have always played computer games and get addicted very easily – and so for me using apps to track things is natural and annoyingly fun (level up!). Note that I don’t intend to use these forever, just until I’m more aware of my behaviour, and the change I’m making now has become routine. Here’s what I use:
Mind – To keep my mind active I have been using an app called Elevate, which is a brain training game for adults and is actually good fun too. I use the free version as the paid one is just too expensive, but it’s good
Lifestyle – I use Lifesum to track all my exercise, calories, carbs, fat and protein – was more interested in the carbs and protein balance as I’m a bread fiend if given half the chance. I think this sort of thing can be particularly good for the writers and self-employed among us, as it’s so easy to reach for a snack without realising that you’re body doesn’t need it.
Walking – I go on daily walks to get some much needed fresh air and clear my head for inspiration (more about that on an old blog post) and have started using Map My Walk to track this. It’s fairly good as you just switch it on and the phone tracks distance etc through GPS. You can see how many calories you’ve burned, add those in to Lifesum, and earn more toast.
Meditation – For a short while now I’ve been using Calm to meditate. I’m not remotely spiritual so meditation is something I’ve avoided, but turns out it’s not spiritual either so that’s alright. It’s more about being in tune with yourself, switching off, and helping you be more focused and creative. Sounds pretty good for a writer – I’m going to start doing it before I write to see what that does..
What else? Making sure I leave the flat to catch up with friends, working out (Jillian Michaels is my current hero) before I sit down at the desk every morning, eating as healthily as possible, and monitoring my mood. Straightforward stuff.
Do you train your body and mind for full-time writing?
Above, some photos of my walks and attempts at healthy eating.