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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

5 Things to Improve Your Writing -- and Your Life -- Right Now


1 – Make time to read for pleasure. Once your own writing career takes off, reading for pleasure is one of the first things to go. When we do read, it’s either for research, to critique for a friend, or for reviewing purposes (which ultimately amounts to marketing and promotion – not really all that relaxing). Our love of reading was how we got into the writing biz. To lose that pleasure, that joy, would be a real shame. Find time – make time – to read with no purpose beyond your own entertainment.

 

2 – Get off your…couch. If you’ve ever been to a writing convention you know that writers, as a breed, are not the most health conscious of individuals. We spend a lot of time sitting on our posteriors doing repetitive wrist movements. Er, that would be typing. Well, hopefully more than typing; hopefully, it’s writing. But either way, we have sedentary jobs that are especially hard on our backs and our wrists. That’s bad enough, but there is some pretty disturbing research to support the theory that sitting all day is hazardous to your health 

 

3 – Make time for the people in your life. We spend a lot of time with imaginary people. Our characters say and do exactly what we need them to. After a time it’s easy to start expecting real people to be just as cooperative. It’s not only good for our emotional and mental well-being to spend time with our loved ones. It’s good for our writing to get out there and observe humans being human.

 

4 – Eat your veggies. One thing you should never be guilty about is buying the best food you can afford -- and taking time to eat it. Eating right not only fuels your body, it fuels your brain. Don’t skip meals. It slows your metabolism and tempts you into binging later on junk food. Treat your body right and it’ll serve you and your career well.

 

 5 - Turn down the occasional project. That probably sounds crazy, but if you’re like me, you’re taking on too many projects anyway. You probably accept every project that comes your way – when you aren’t actively seeking them out. Plan your writing year at least one to three years in advance, leave a little latitude for creative impulse, and then stick to your schedule. If you continually overbook yourself, you’ll drain the creative well as well as your joy in the work. If you were setting off on a cross country journey would you try to run at top speed the entire way or would you try to pace yourself? Pace yourself. Turning down the occasional offer gives you a wonderful sense of both freedom and control.

11 comments:

JB Lynn said...

Great advice! I especially struggle with 1&5. Thanks for the reminder!

Josh Lanyon said...

t

Josh Lanyon said...

OH MY GOD I hate these fricking proveyou'renotarobots!!

YOU prove you're not a robot with you're flipping TESTS!

Anyway, as I was about to say, 1 and 5 are also an issue for me.

Toni Anderson said...

LOL--I hate those things too, Josh.

Great advice. All common sense but it doesn't mean we do it. I have no trouble reading for pleasure. Or research, I love both.

I do have problems getting out as much as I should (and exercising). I could easily be a hermit!! The dog and kids and hubby kick me out of my safe zone though :)

Josh Lanyon said...

Judging by my Facebook comments, you're the minority, Toni -- and I salute you. :-D

Toni Anderson said...

I think it's simply because I read in bed for at least an hour before I go to sleep. Simple as that really :) Lucky me!!!

Rita said...

My nemesis is getting out and about with others because it does take my mind away from my characters. I'm with Toni these days I could go for being a hermit. I listen to most of my books so I can listen as I do other things. For me good books are an inspiration. They spur me to do better in my own writing.

Anne Marie Becker said...

Yes, yes, yes - to all of the above. I'm so bad at taking care of myself. That last one is the doozy - taking on too much. Thanks for the reminder it's OKAY to take time for myself. :)

site angel said...

Hello, Josh. Great article.
All great points, great advice. Reading other people's books is a priority for me, as is eating well (although I admit to getting hooked on odd things when writing). Saying "no" can be a bugaboo, especially if you're accustomed to saying "yes" whether you should or not. Keeping a sane schedule helps stave off burnout.
It's good to remember the real world provides fodder for writing.
*and I hate these anti-robot things!
Cheers, Kelly

Cathy Perkins said...

Wow, you hit the nerve already exposed by The Artist's Way - the danger of getting so busy turning creating into a job that you forget about the things that feed your creative spirit.

For me, that includes reading for pleasure!

Of course it also means tapping into some of your other points about taking care of yourself and getting out with other (real) people :)

Shirley Wells said...

Great advice, Josh. Thanks for the reminder. I've been working on #1 lately but I always struggle with 4 and 5.

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