Now, maybe you already do these things all the time. Good for you. But maybe you’re like me, and you forget these things when you’re on a writing binge or struggling against a case of writer’s block. In that case, read carefully.
- Stay hydrated – This is like a no-brainer for life, right? Drink enough water. The doctor tells you, whatever beauty mag you pick up in waiting rooms lauds it as the secret to great skin, your mother tells you every time you go home to visit.
- But why? Well obviously general health, skin health, blahblahblah. But here’s the big one for writers: minor dehydration can affect your mood, thinking processes, and leave you feeling fatigued and spacy. Does that really sound like a creative space you want to be in? Keep a big cup or bottle of water next to your preferred writing space – even if you’re already hooked on tea or coffee, try drinking water too, since both have a mild diuretic effect.
- Eat protein – Again, this should be obvious. But I have a feeling a lot of you are like me, and when we’re determined to finish this next chapter, we forgo meals and just snack until we’re done.
- But why? I won’t bombard you with advanced scientific language, but basically protein consumption allows our brains to pump out the chemicals that keep us energized, alert, and active. Conversely, if you’re just working your way through a box of crackers while you write, that carb load is making you feel sluggish (and probably less productive.) Don’t believe me? Check out this great Psychology Today article about it -and next time you sit down to write, take the time to grab a turkey sandwich, tofu stir-fry, or whatever your preferred source of protein is.
- Get some sunshine – Yep, you’ve heard this one before too. Sun exposure (in short doses and with sunscreen when necessary) has a whole host of health benefits – but it’s notably hard to get when walled up in front of your computer.
- But why? Sunshine can improve mood and alertness. Maybe you’re some kind of tormented artistic genius who writes better when depressed and sleepy, but I’m certainly not. On top of that, where is your novel set? Probably not in a small drab room lit by the glow of a laptop. Odds are, your characters go outside and see beautiful places, and you’re going to have a lot better luck describing these scenes if you remember what outside looks like.
- Exercise – Seeing a pattern yet? Exercise is undeniably good for your body, and anyone should try to get at least 150 minutes per week.
- But why? It turns out exercise has more to offer than cardiovascular benefits and general health. Multiple studies have shown that exercise can improve mood, and even more importantly for writers, it can improve creative potential independently of mood. So exercise can make you more alert, more cheerful, and more creative! This is a win-win-win situation, people. Exercise doesn’t have to mean hitting the gym, either: try just going for a short walk around the yard.
- Let yourself be bored – This last one is the only one your doctor isn’t already telling you to do, but it’s also one of the most important things for a writer.
- But why? This one is more anecdotal than the rest, but a few studies also support it. Boredom is the key to creativity. Your brain isn’t going to start throwing new ideas your way if it’s wholly engrossed in Candy Crush. So here are two big steps in the creative process: put down the smartphone and step away from the computer. My favorite strategy is to get in the car and drive. As I’m staring at the landscape and thinking, something will always pop into my head. Even small moments of boredom can be useful. For example, when waiting for your food at a restaurant, try thinking what your hero and heroine would order there instead of reading Buzzfeed articles on your phone.
Now get out there and write, people. (Or exercise or go for a drive or make a hearty meal in preparation to write, but you know what I mean.)