Last week I wrote about how I overcame my health issues, but now, I’d like to go into a little more detail about how I hacked my health, specifically as a writer.
I used to need two or three cups of coffee in the morning before I could think clearly and have enough energy to start writing. Then I’d need another cup or two after lunch. Between all that coffee, I really only had a sweet spot of about two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon when I felt sharp enough to write. Today, after cleaning up my diet, the fatigue and brain fog are gone. I feel like I can write all day at any time. How did I do it? Essentially what I’ve done is adopted a plant-based gluten-free vegan diet. I eat lots of vegetables, beans, fruit, nuts, seeds, and modest amounts of gluten-free grains like rice and quinoa. The most important thing is to eat real food– remove the artificial and processed stuff. Now I only drink one cup of coffee in the morning (with unsweetened coconut milk or almond milk instead of sugar, cream, and artificial sweeteners) then I drink green tea the rest of the day. I still drink caffeine, but because I want to, rather than because I need to.
I make sure to exercise every day, whether it be jogging, hiking, biking, weight-lifting, interval training, sprints, or yoga. It’s not imperative that you do all of these things, and you certainly don’t need to do all of them the same day, every day– you’d never have time to write. But it is important to take breaks from writing during the day to move your body. Even something as simple as going for a walk can go a long way. I use the Fitbit app on my iPhone to try to get to 10,000 steps a day, and though I usually fall short, I make sure to reach at least three miles each day.
I try to eat as healthy as possible, but I also take various supplements to balance my nutrition: vitamins, minerals, probiotics, omega-3 oils, amino acids, natural herbs, and more. I don’t know if all of the stuff I take actually works or not, but I seem to feel better on them. I probably take more supplements than I need to, but I’d rather have expensive urine than a nutritional deficiency.
4. Standing Desk
They say sitting is the new smoking, but it’s difficult to avoid when your job requires you to be in front of a computer screen all day. So I started standing while I write. It felt awkward at first, but I got used to it. I didn’t go out to buy some fancy expensive standing desk. I simply place my laptop on shelves or counters that are at eye level. I’d like to try taking it to the next level with a treadmill desk, but for now, standing is free and easy.
I meditate every day. Like most people who have never meditated, I used to think it was pointless, but meditation may have helped me as much as anything else on this list. It may seem counterproductive for a writer to clear their mind and stop thinking, which meditation essentially is, but to the contrary, meditation can actually improve your creativity. It teaches you to observe and control your thoughts, so you can quiet your mind from negative thinking. Then when you want to brainstorm for writing ideas, you can use your meditation training to run with your thoughts with more focus and creativity.
A good night’s sleep is important to feeling refreshed and energized to write the next morning. Personally, I get about eight hours each night. The good news is if you do all of the above, sleeping will take care of itself. I used to have trouble falling asleep at night because my mind was always racing with thoughts. In fact, many of my story ideas came during that time. But insomnia isn’t necessary for writers. With a healthy diet, exercise, and meditation, I now think when I want to think and sleep when I want to sleep.
Writing is hard enough as it is. You don’t want poor physical and mental health to contribute to your writer’s block. There was nothing more frustrating for me than to feel mentally drained with brain fog and unable to focus when I was trying to write. Following these guidelines helped me to be able to think clearly all day long so I can write whenever I want to. Now I just struggle with normal writer’s problems like self-doubt, procrastination, and obscurity. I’ll let you know if I come up with hacks to cure those problems, but don’t hold your hopes up.