Salutations, word nerds!
I hope this blog post finds you and your works-in-progress well!
I’m currently on a flight to Boston, and from there it’s onward to Cape Cod to spend a week with my BFF of 26 years! From what I hear, Cape Cod has quite a substantial “writing presence” (to use my friend’s phrase), so we’re excited to explore it!
I usually don’t bring my laptop with me on vacation (the temptation to open it and write instead of soak up friends/family time is too strong for me!), but Catherine and I have planned to make this trip a writing retreat of sorts.
The last time I saw her, which was on a rainy day at Universal Studios in Orlando back in May, she told me about a story idea she has for a romantic comedy. During the plane ride home, I sketched out a few ideas for it, so it’ll be fun to put our heads together and see where the story takes us! I’m not sure if this will morph into a full-blown collaboration or if she’ll end up working on it herself while I forge ahead with my current WIP (I’ve promised myself I won’t take it personally if she rejects any or all of my ideas ;-)), but either way, I’m stoked to see it brought to life!
For this week’s post, I wanted to share yet another writing lesson I’ve learned from the gym, and that is this:
If you can’t exercise but don’t want to backtrack, keep your diet in check.
We all know it’s unrealistic to expect ourselves to work out every single day. Things like sickness, vacations, family emergencies, and, let’s be honest, lazy, unmotivated moods, occasionally crop up and keep us from hitting the gym/trail/track/studio/fill in the blank.
It’s the same with writing. As much as we’d like to deny it, writing every single day of the year is impossible for most of us (we can’t all be like Stephen King!). The same things that keep us from exercising our physical muscles are often the same ones that stop us from exercising our creative ones, and all our hard-earned progress comes screeching to a sudden halt.
But does it have to?
The answer, as you might have guessed, is a resounding No. The “gains” (used some gym lingo there, forgive me…) we’ve made on our manuscript don’t have to atrophy. Even when we’re not writing, we can still keep our creative muscles strong, toned, and powerful. All we have to do is keep a tight rein on our diets.
Now, what do I mean by “diet”? Well, what I don’t mean is the food we consume with our mouths. (although there are definitely certain superfoods that tremendously benefit brain health, and therefore writing health). I mean the food we consume with our minds. I’m talking about books!
When one of my clients at the gym tells me they’re about to go on vacation, or won’t be able to make it to the gym for a while due to X reason, I always tell them to make sure they keep eating as if they were on their normal gym schedule (it’s interesting how working out regularly has the advantageous side effect of making us more conscientious of what we eat). That way, they’ll be able to maintain their current physique or continue losing weight if weight loss is one of their goals.
When we’re unable to write, it’s important that we, too, consume content, such as books and even well-written films and TV shows, that will nourish us as writers. Reading, after all, is one of the most effective – and pleasurable! – tools we have that is guaranteed to improve our writing. Even if it’ll be days, weeks, even months till your next writing session, reading will keep cobwebs from accumulating in your brain. Without you even be conscious of it, it will fill your mind with beautiful language, emotive imagery, round and complex characters, intricate plot structure, and perhaps most wonderful of all, the unquenchable thirst to write!
The next time you’re on a writing break, whether planned or unplanned, remember to take time to tend your creative self. I promise it will make getting back into your writing groove infinitely easier and keep those brainstorming, world-building, plot-twisting muscles in shape!
Talk to y’all soon!
 “Diet” here doesn’t refer to a specific meal plan, such as The Zone Diet, Atkins, Keto, etc. It simply refers to the dictionary definition, which is the food we eat.