Thursday, November 7, 2013

Writers, Their Vices, and How to Combat Them by Claire Rogerson

If you’ve always wanted to be a writer and finally achieved that dream, you’ll know how good it feels to get there. It’s something to be savored too, especially since recent research found two-thirds of employees are unhappy. If you finally get to be self employed as a writer in your dream job, it’s something to be happy about for sure. You’ll still be challenged by your work, and you’ll have tough topics to write about on occasion as well. It’s all part of a day’s work for many writers.

However let’s be honest here – we’ve all got vices that follow us round as we work. The question is how many do you recognize and what can you do about them?

Lack of exercise

File:UnderwoodKeyboard.jpgThe very nature of our work means we sit at a computer desk for much of the day, typing away on our keyboard. It’s all too easy to get up, grab a quick breakfast and then sit down for several hours without moving. It’s no wonder we get stiff from time to time – especially considering we can carry on like this for days at a time. The Mayo Clinic among other sources has reported on the dangers of sitting down too frequently.

Fortunately this is an easier one to solve. Make a point of going out for a walk before you start work each morning, for example. If you’re not a morning person, head out at lunchtime instead. You need a break from your desk and a 30 minute walk each day will clear your head and make writing easier than you might think.

Too much caffeine

File:Espresso-roasted coffee beans.jpgThe next biggest vice of writers is probably that of drinking tea and/or coffee practically on tap. Unless you drink decaffeinated all the time, this isn’t a good idea. Sure a cup will wake you up first thing, but a brisk walk would work even better (see above). Like it or not, caffeine is a drug. Caffeine does affect both body and mind, and if you want to be at the peak of your writing abilities instead of wired all day, it’s worth cutting down on the caffeine.

Just be sure to cut down gradually instead of going cold turkey. The headaches aren’t worth the hassle – unless you can cut it out when you’re not writing, maybe over a weekend for example.

Frequent smoking breaks

Most people are aware of at least some of the effects of smoking. When you work for yourself it’s far easier to pop outside and have a cigarette, or even to light up at your computer desk without moving at all. However it’s worth considering the long term effects this will have on your health. It’s arguably easier to give up smoking and protect the health of your lungs when you work from home, because you can distract yourself in any number of ways. You can grab a drink, chew some gum or nibble on a few healthy nuts for example. It’s not easy to give up smoking but if you use it as part of your overall health strategy you’ll feel a thousand times better for it. 

It might seem challenging to exercise more, give up smoking and ditch the caffeine all in one go, but why not give it a try? Your writing might just benefit from it as well.

Every writer knows that feeling alert and being able to concentrate are the two most important things to hang onto when you are working. The more you can do to feel this way, the easier it is to get your writing done in less time. We’ve all had days when we struggle to achieve anything, not to mention days when everything works like clockwork. Reducing the number of vices we have is a good way to ensure we have more of the latter than the former.


Claire Rogerson is a freelance writer, who made a career change after giving birth to her first daughter. She now enjoys the perfect, if busy, combination of researching her passion for helping people overcome addictions with writing and at the same time looking after her family. When not doing all of that, she's an avid volleyball fan and gardener.


Holli Castillo said...

Claire, thanks for being my guest today and offering such great advice. I do the too much caffeine thing far too often myself.

Holli Castillo said...

Claire, I have the same problem when it comes to lack of exercise. At my day job I choose to park in the furthest spot from the office and I bypass the elevator and take the stairs. The little bits of extra exercise add up. I enjoyed your post.

Diane Kratz said...

All of those vices, I have. Thanks for the advice!
Diane Kratz