5 Ways to Fuel Your Writing
Writing is a mentally depleting task, and we work ourselves silly. After a fifteen-thousand-word week, we can feel like we’ve been hit by a truck—an eighteen-wheeler carrying a load of bricks.
And while reaching for the coffee might us feel better for a moment, it’s not the fix we need. Don’t get me wrong, I love coffee. But taking care of ourselves and our bodies is the number-one most important thing we can do for our writing.
If our bodies are not functioning at one hundred percent, our minds won’t be. And our creativity and productivity will both suffer.
So here are a some simple ways to boost energy levels for the long term:
No, you don’t have to run twelve miles and toss up a PR on your back squat. Go for a walk. Do a few jumping jacks. Take up yoga. Do whatever you can to get your heart rate up and your body stretched out, and do your best to stay active throughout the day. We spend a lot of time sitting in one place staring at a screen/page. Set a timer for every hour or two, and take a moment to stretch your legs.
P.S. Fitness trackers are fantastic for making sure you're moving throughout the day. I have the Fitbit Charge HR, and I absolutely adore it.
A person can survive more than three weeks without food, but only three to five days without water. Our bodies need it, and dehydration is the easiest way to make yourself feel like shit.
Quick story: I refused to drink water until I was eighteen years old. I hated it, everything about it. The taste disgusted me. (Keep in mind, I was also an athlete.) So for eighteen years, I survived on sports drinks, juice, and coke. Bad, bad, bad idea. For about three months during my senior year of high school, I would wake up, throw up, then get ready for school—because I was dehydrated all the time. I was weak, and I was absolutely not functioning at full speed, athletically or otherwise. So I decided enough was enough and forced myself to drink water.
Now, I carry a CamelBak with me everywhere and drink at least a hundred ounces a day. And I feel a hundred times better.
If you have trouble staying hydrated, here are some tips.
Another story: I didn’t eat vegetables until I was nineteen. (I really wasn’t a healthy kid.) I had southern vegetables. Green beans, fried potatoes, fried squash, corn. But no spinach, peppers, cauliflower, zucchini. When I got my first apartment and began cooking for myself, I discovered the produce section at the grocery store. And let me tell you, my energy levels went through the roof. Even now, if I let veggies slip out of my diet for a couple days, I begin to feel down in the dumps.
So explore your local produce section—or farmer’s market. Have fun with it. Try new vegetables and new ways of preparing them. (Anybody like zoodles?) You might even try going temporarily vegetarian to get used to eating more vegetables.
Also, while we’re on food: lean meats (chicken, fish, turkey), whole grains (brown rice, whole wheat pasta/bread, oats), nuts, and fruit. And if you like to bake or make sugary foods, try Stevia drops! No aftertaste, and they’re totally natural. I get mine at Trader Joes.
This is a big one for writers, especially the night owls. Everybody is different, but as a general rule, shoot for eight hours of sleep. It’s incredible how often sleep hygiene is overlooked.
I’m so exhausted. I didn’t have my cup of coffee this morning.
How much sleep did you get?
Oh, three hours.
It’s not that we don’t see the connection. We don’t want to see it. There are only twenty-four hours in a day, and we’re supposed to sacrifice eight of them to sleep? How many words could we write during that time?
Think of it this way. If you decide to stay up and write instead of sleeping, you’ll be too exhausted to write tomorrow. And your writing will suffer in the long term.
So just go to bed.
This is big, and this is something we all struggle with. Writing is damn stressful. Even when we manage to get the words on the page, we have the stress of submitting and rejection and the constant battle with doubt--Is it good enough?
So taking time to de-stress and clear your mind is huge for keeping your energy and your positivity up. This is different for everyone. A party might be a great way for an extrovert to unwind, but an introvert will need time to de-stress from that, too. Do what works for you. A movie. A hike. A good book. Some time in a hammock. A night out with friends.
Make time, and do not underestimate the impact this stress relief has on your work.
So how do you stay energized?