You don’t have to be in shape to conquer a blank page, but it helps

November 20, 2016

Many of you are in the home stretch of #NaNoWriMo2016 and deserve praise and admiration for all your hard work.

Regardless of what time of year is your best time to churn out a first draft, the same habits will serve you well.

For me, credit goes to my training as a journalist. As Ed Greenwood says, it’s an excellent grounding that teaches you to crank out decent copy fast.

But I have to give the greatest credit to lifestyle — eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, getting proper sleep.

Yeah, I can hear the eyes rolling.

But it’s true. Four years ago, I was 30 pounds overweight, on entry level blood pressure medications and plagued by chronic sleep problems.

That made every day at the desk a battle. I’d fight through the afternoon brain fog and a dragging weariness that made it hard enough to finish my client work, never mind be consistently productive on my fiction projects.

And as a self-employed freelancer, I didn’t have the option of slacking off on the company clock. I only get paid when a specific job is done for a specific client. As a colleague of mine once said, “You eat what you kill.” If you are not hunting (getting the job done) you are not eating (paying the bills).

But all that changed when I started with a personal training gym where the team coached me on how I should eat and kept me accountable to a regular routine of fitness.

Within five months, I had lost 30 pounds and no longer needed those blood pressure meds. Even my chronically high blood cholesterol came down by itself. I started to sleep better.

I’ve never looked back.

It’s made all the difference to give me the clarity, drive and focus to juggle family, work and fiction writing. The time I take to workout allows me to make much more effective use of the time I dedicate for everything else.

And best of all, my writing chops have proven to be a useful currency. I know I need that push that comes of working with a personal trainer, but that kind of service doesn’t come cheap. So I struck a deal with the gym owner – I write blog content in exchange for my membership. If you are a good writer, never underestimate how you can lever this skill.

Next time, I’ll give some more tips about how to stay productive with your writing time and overcome a blank page.

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