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Monday, April 4, 2011

The Healthy Writer...And Reader!

As writers, and oftentimes as avid readers, we might forget what it means to take good care of ourselves. I know when I get caught up in a manuscript, I might sit in the same position for hours on end, heedless of the awkward way my body is turned or that my mouth is drier than the Sahara desert. And as a reader, I'll stick my nose in a book (okay, iPad) until they burn and until my neck gives out from exhaustion because, let's face it, who actually lifts their book to the ergonomically correct position?

But I've learned the hard way over the years that it's in my best interest to take a minute and readjust sometimes. Or, God forbid, look out the window! And maybe even take a sip (or 100) of water.

A few years ago, after a marathon book-writing month (my own little NaNo), I did some pretty nasty damage to my back. Thankfully, I've always been able to find trusted chiropracters who were able to get me back on track fairly quickly.

And just a few weeks ago, my husband got so dehydrated that he gave himself kidney stones. The 2am 9-1-1 adventure was enough to scare me into drinking more (and I mean copious amounts of) water.

And as someone who was born into a genetic cesspool of eye problems and heart problems, I know it's important for me to be diligent about taking care of those parts of my body.

So, what are my suggestions for a healthy writing/reading life?

1) Take breaks, for heaven's sake! Set a timer for 20 minute increments and when it goes off, stand up, stretch your arms, stretch your legs and look at the furthest point you can see for 30 seconds.

2) Drink...water, that is! It's the life-source, not Diet Coke, contrary to popular belief. I aim for 80-100 ounces/day (I do have to counteract my morning coffee)! And throw in some green tea or Ginko Clarity tea to keep yourself sharp.

3) Exercise! I've started taking my iPad to the gym with me so that I can kill two birds with one stone. I read while I walk. It makes the time go so much faster and I can stay on the machine so much longer! My skinny jeans are finally just my jeans!

4) Take time to relax! Stress kills...literally. So don't get yourself so stressed out that you land in serious trouble. Schedule time for you that doesn't involve a computer and fictional characters. Get your nails done, sit in a sauna, get a massage or just take some time to meditate or do some yoga poses at the end of your day. Your mind and body will thank you for it!

I hope my tips help, and if you have tips you'd like to share, please leave a comment! I'm always looking for new ways to de-stress and stay healthy :)

-Jerrica, Her Grace of Grammar


  1. Here's another one: Be sure you're eating properly, not just grabbing a bag of potato chips or a box of cookies to munch on while you're writing. Cooking can actually give your mind time to plot and plan, anyway. You never know, you could work your way out of a plot problem while you work!

  2. That's a great one, Catherine!! Thanks for sharing :)

  3. These are really great suggestions. I went from a job where I stood 8 hours at a time to writing, where I sit more than that. LOL I need to be more diligent about getting up and moving around. I can feel some tenderness in my right wrist and arm, so I try to stretch and massage that as well.

  4. The arms and shoulders are the WORST, Donna! I know that pain too well! LOL! Definitely stretch them and give them a rest from time to time. Thanks for stopping by! :)

  5. One thing I've started doing is when I feel like snacking, I grab a fruit or vegetable first. If I'm still hungry after that, I can have something a little less healthy. That way I eat less of the unhealthy stuff and I know I'm getting in some good vitamins.

    I also go to Pilates reformer class once a week. It helps to build my core muscles for better posture, which is a weakness of mine. Setting the timer and stretching is something I need to do more often.

  6. I like to work out in the a.m. before I write. It's a great way to jump start the brain and get the blood flowing. When I write, I take music breaks. I like to listen to songs, sometimes dance around, and then I come back to my computer inspired for the next scene.

  7. Another thing to remember - carpel tunnel syndrome. Twenty years ago I had to have the surgery on both hands and the damage I did to my hands because I never took those coffee breaks that were necessary is unreal. At the time of the surgery I couldn't even hold a pencil much less pick it up. SO, please do take those breaks. I've gotten my typing speed back up by I still don't have strength in my hands and when they say (and believe me I do listen because if I don't they won't work for weeks instead of hours) I suffer for it.

    Great idea on the water. I keep a glass or bottle next to the computer all of the time. Remembering to drink is another story.

    Great blog!!!!

  8. Oh I used to do yoga a few years ago, perhaps it's time to start back. I try to eat as healthy as I can but I know I can always do better. I'm on the go so much that quick snacks are just so much easier to take. So this blog has reminded me that I need to take better care of myself this year. Great blog, Jerrica.