Friday, 26 April 2013

Writer's Waning Willpower

No matter how dedicated and determined you are to be a writer and produce the next great novel, there will be times when you don’t feel like sitting in front of your computer and tapping at the keyboard.

You know it’s the right thing to do, and once you get into it you’ll probably not want to stop, but you just can’t be bothered.

What people don’t realise though is that how you feel mentally is a biological process. You may think you’re angry because Bill at work was an ass, but the actual anger in your body is created by chemicals and hormones and various things floating about in your blood (I should point out that I am not a doctor, but I have seen nearly three episodes of Gray’s Anatomy, so I know what I’m talking about).

And, because it is a biological process, you can take steps to ignore the problem and find ways to change your body chemistry to something more useful. These are short term solutions, so I’m not suggesting this is how to live your life.

In order to keep up your energy and maintain sharp focus you should eat properly and exercise regularly. That’s what you SHOULD do. But who has the time? Or the ability to resist cake?

Here are some short cuts.

1. Make lemonade.

I don’t mean this metaphorically, I mean it literally: drink a sugary liquid. Low blood sugar makes a big difference to how motivated you feel, and brain activity is a big user of energy (even if expanding parts of your body suggest otherwise). Doesn’t have to be fizzy pop, can be fruit juice. Diet drinks don’t work. Liquid is better than solids for this because they absorb quicker.

(Remember, I am not a doctor. If all your teeth fall out, I take no responsibility)

2. Fresh air and sunshine

You may of course live in a part of the world that has very little of either of these, but get it when you can. Sticking your head out of a window and taking some deep breaths puts oxygen in your blood. Sun on your face boosts serotonin. Five minutes of sunshine without sunblock can do wonders.

(Remember, I am not a doctor. If all your skin falls off, I take no responsibility)

3. Stretch

When you’re feeling tense or tight, you will automatically stretch and move around. But it’s not always that obvious. Even though you may be tense and your muscles are all bunched up, the body gets used to it so you don’t feel any dramatic pain, just a dull ache or general discomfort. And, rather perversely, if you stretch, loosening up those muscles can create more pain initially as the body readjusts.

But the release of that tension, especially in the back, shoulders and neck, can also change your state of mind.

(Remember, I am not a doctor. If you pull a muscle and can’t move for a week, I take no responsibility)

4. Intense exercise

Obviously, regular exercise taken in responsible fashion is something we should all be doing. However, assuming you haven’t quite got your schedule for that triathlon sorted out, a quick burst of physical activity will change you blood chemistry.

I don’t mean anything involving a gym or weights, just twenty sit ups or a run around the block will do the trick.

(Remember, I am not a doctor. If you pull a muscle and can’t move for a week, I take no responsibility)

5.  Get a nemesis

This one isn’t particularly healthy, psychologically speaking, but still, it can be quite effective. If there has been someone in your life who has annoyed you deeply (maybe a family member, someone you used to go out with, someone you went to school with), then thinking about their stupid, smug face that deserves punching (hypothetically speaking), can get you out of your funk and into a more active state of mind.

There is a danger that if thinking about this person really upsets you it may send you into a depression and running back to bed. That isn’t the intention. But the idea of ruining their day by having a bestselling book with your name on it can provide the incentive you need to get to it.

(Remember, I am not a psychiatrist. If you end up crying into a tub of ice cream, I take no responsibility)
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13 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Get a nemesis - funny!
Exercise does it for me. Nothing drains the body of stress faster than a hard workout.

Sharon Himsl said...

Ha! Apparently, I blog or do email when I don't feel like working on the book. Uh...back to work!!!

mooderino said...

@Alex - we all deserve our own nemesis.

mooderino said...

@Sharon - I spend far too much time not writing too.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I like the idea of a nemesis or an arch-enemy. :)

Sarah Foster said...

My narrator's nemesis is modeled after someone I knew in high school, so yeah...I think I actually did get a nemesis...

But, um, walking! I totally go for walks and it gets the ideas going. :)

mooderino said...

Madeline - maybe there should be an internet service to match people up.

@Sarah - That counts as exercise and fresh air.

J Keith said...

I don't have a nemesis but I plan on getting one now. Currently the only thing I truly hate is poison ivy but I don't think it counts as a true nemesis.

Patricia Lynne said...

Great advice. I think I need to find a nemesis now... ;)

The Golden Eagle said...

I love stretching and exercise. Exercising outside is my favorite--then there's fresh air AND I get my muscles moving.

Lynda R Young said...

lol at #5

Chocolate is a good willpower booster for me ;)

mooderino said...

@Patricia - if you spot someone wearing a cape, that's probably them.

@Golden - if it's a sunny day that's the trifecta.

@Lynda - chocolate generally encourages me to eat more chocolate.

C. Lee McKenzie said...

I'm kind of addicted to exercise. If I don't work out a bit everyday, I can't sit still and write. My favorite way to energize the brain is to hike in the mornings. As to a nemesis, I have a lot of those.

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