Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Five Ways Writing is Like Dieting

Pam here. How many of us have set a New Year’s resolution to lose weight at some point or another? Or simply started a new health plan just to feel better in general? Well, I’ve been on a “diet” for over a year, but it’s not really a diet. It’s a lifestyle change. I love it, and I don’t feel like I’m dieting. I’m eating healthier than ever before and enjoying my food and my life.

But enough about my specific diet plan… let’s talk writing!


It’s amazing how much writing can be like dieting. And I’ve come up with FIVE ways the two are similar. Let’s compare…

1) Make Healthy Choices - We know that certain foods are more healthy than others, and even some healthy choices don’t agree with everyone. Find out what works for your writing. Are you a pantster or a plotter? Do you prefer writing all the way through or polishing as you go? Do you write one thousand words a day or throw everything but the contents of your fridge on the page in a month-long marathon writing session? Once you figure out the plan that works for you and the writing plan that you can see yourself sticking to for life, you’re on your way to a healthy writing career.


2) Start Over Every Three Hours - One of the selling points of a healthy lifestyle is not to beat yourself up if you cheat or go off your eating plan once or twice. The problem comes when you throw in the towel and one or two slip-ups become a month-long binge of unhealthy eating. It’s the same with writing. You slip up. You get behind. The story isn’t working. It happens to all of us. But don’t beat yourself up and let that slip-up turn in to long-term failure. Start over. I don’t necessarily mean start your project over, but start your PLAN over. Tired? Discouraged? The writing is like slogging through quicksand? You’ve hit a brick wall? Everything will look better in three hours, or after a good night’s sleep. Sometimes all it takes is a quick power walk to reset everything. Don’t give up. Take a deep breath and put Tip #1 into action.

And this leads directly into comparison #3….

3) Plan Ahead - The biggest mistake and what usually leads to going off-track is not keeping on-plan staples to prepare healthy meals and snacks on hand. I confess that I put off grocery shopping as long as possible, and this has sabotaged my healthy eating kick more than once. Eventually, with not a single fresh vegetable in the house, I’ll give in and do the marathon 3-5 hour shopping trip to restock the fridge, freezer, and pantry. The same is true in our writing. The more prepared we are, the better our writing sessions will flow. For some, this might mean a 20 page synopsis, detailed character charts complete with photos; for others, just reading what you wrote the day before and honing in on the emotions and moving forward works. Regardless, there is some planning taking place, whether it’s in your head or on paper. Stick to the plan.

4) Exercise - A bit of exercise is healthy for our bodies and our brain. It gets the heart pumping, increases our metabolism, and clears the brain. My exercise the last few months has been bending and lifting weights (20+ lb grand baby), as well as sweeping, moping, and vacuuming twice a week since she started crawling. Now that she’s walking, so I’m about to increase my exercise regimen to chasing after her all day twice a week. I call that a win-win. As far as writing, we get a two-fer here. Physical exercise is good for both our health and to get our brain cells pumping. No brainer there!

5) Seasons of Stress - One of the biggest pitfalls of any diet plan seems to be stress. A dedicated stress-eater can devour an entire carton of Ben & Jerry’s Cookie Dough ice cream in one sitting. Me? Give me a large (the biggest they make, baby!) bag of Ruffles Cheddar and Sour Cream chips and a container of French Onion dip and I can kick stress to the curb big time. This is the reason chips and dip are banned at my house. Sigh.


Recognize that there will be seasons that stress your writing plan to the max. Just like the “Calgon Take Me Away” commercials from yesteryear, we’re bombarded with life on a daily basis. Kids, spouses, elder care, day jobs in addition to writing, housework, shopping, cooking, (should I dare mention that April 15th is looming?). Add in a winter cold or flu that lingers for six weeks, or a sick child, an audit, a wedding, or car wreck, or any number of life-altering but totally unexpected stress inducing events and suddenly your well-planned writing schedule has gone the way of the empty Ben & Jerry’s ice cream container.

Don’t let a season of stress completely do you in. Deal with what you have to deal with even if you have to put writing on the back burner for a while. But when the dust settles, when the sick child is all better, when the audit is done, take a deep breath and start over.

Make healthy choices. Start over. Plan ahead. Exercise. Don't Stress.

And that, my Seeker friends, is a recipe for success whether you're writing or dieting.


Natchez, MS; 1791

Anxious for his brothers to join him on the rugged frontier along the Mississippi River, Connor O’Shea has no choice but to indenture himself as a carpenter in exchange for their passage from Ireland. But when he’s sold to Isabella Bartholomew of Breeze Hill Plantation, Connor fears he’ll repeat past mistakes and vows not to be tempted by the lovely lady.

The responsibilities of running Breeze Hill have fallen on Isabella’s shoulders after her brother was found dead in the swamps along the Natchez Trace and a suspicious fire devastated their crops, almost destroyed their home, and left her father seriously injured. Even with Connor’s help, Isabella fears she’ll lose her family’s plantation. Despite her growing feelings for the handsome Irish carpenter, she seriously considers accepting her wealthy and influential neighbor’s proposal of marriage.

Soon, though, Connor realizes someone is out to eliminate the Bartholomew family. Can he set aside his own feelings to keep Isabella safe?


CLAIMING MARIAH $1.99 FOR A LIMITED TIME





Visit Pam at www.pamhillman.com

111 comments :

  1. Pam, I can see where this could be said of just about anything in life :-) I really liked how you paralleled with writing. Though not an author myself, this is good advice to those who are.

    Make healthy choices.
    Start over.
    Plan ahead.
    Exercise.
    Don't Stress.

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    1. Good morning, Trixi! You're right about comparisons. I've found that just about any analogy can be paralleled. I'm not a philosopher, but I suppose it's just the nature -- the natural order of things, huh? :)

      Good to see you this morning -- or, uh, last night. I fell into bed about 12:30 after baby sitting all day. I always sleep like a log after a baby sitting gig! lol

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  2. Hi Pam:

    I almost got a stiff neck shaking my head in agreement with all you writing/dieting points. I've lived all of them, over and over. There is also one more similarity in my case: when I don't feel up to dieting but I want to trick myself into thinking I am 'dieting' and doing good healthy things for myself, I read diet books. I do the same thing when my writing hits some rugged potholes. Writing problem? No problem. I just read the hottest new craft book. I guess if I'm not going to do the right thing, the next best thing is doing something that might actually help me do the right thing the next time -- of course, even this might be just a rationalization.

    Can't wait to read your big, over 400 pages, Natchez Trace book. My best friend lived just a few hundred yards off the Trace. I love that area and I am a big fan of the history of the Trace. I think Trace history is the most neglected very important part of US history.

    How hard is it to wait until August to see your baby on the bookstore shelves?

    BTW: do you think pantsers are grazers while plotters are multi-course meal planners?

    Vince

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    1. Vince, you always make me laugh. I'm a plotter and I can graze with the best. Unfortunately. LOL

      And yes, I'm with you. Reading the books seems to help with motivation anyway.

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    2. I think the calories still go straight to my butt.

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    3. VINCE, since I both plot and panster, am I doomed to graze and eat multi-course meals? :-(

      Janet

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    4. Oh, Vince, this is great stuff!! My Five reasons might have to morph into 8 or 10. I think you've hit on the reason that diet fads and writing "fads" in the form of self-help books are so popular. It makes us feel better to at least be "working" on the problem in some way, and reading is our superpower, but why not READ about the problem.

      And discussing it.

      Does anybody find it ironic that that's exactly what we're doing right now? :)

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    5. Vince asked: BTW: do you think pantsers are grazers while plotters are multi-course meal planners?


      I'm not sure. It could be argued that the opposite is true as plotters are continually working and making notes on their project, while a true panster is technically only working on the project when they sit down to write (eat). So that would make the panster the leaner of the two.

      Flip that around, though, and a hard-core panster's story might be a bit like a dieter who goes on a strict cleanse diet and doesn't get enough food or enough protein and healthy carbs. And the plotter's story might be bloated from over-indulging in humongous detail-oriented buffets day after day.

      My final answer? Moderation is the key. lol

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    6. I'm a pantser and a grazer. Big meals make me feel sluggish and that annoys me. Which probably means I'm either in touch with my body OR a control freak. :)

      New Yorker = Control Freak (sometimes)

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    7. Hi Pam et al.:

      I don't think there would be any correlation between pantsers, plotters, grazers and set meal individuals in real life. This was just a thought experiment as to given the analogy between dieting and writing, how would grazers and set meal eaters pan out. That is, do you think within the analogy grazers would line up with pantsers.

      Pam thinks the opposite is true that plotters would be the grazers. I don't know but Pam has a very good argument.

      But this goes back to very early man. Today the theory is that it is best to graze, eat a little food all day long as this is the easiest on the body in keeping blood sugar even. Well, if man lived for a million years or so where food was easily available, then eating food here and there when you are hungry is the best way to go.

      However, if man were living where it was very cold and most food was captured animals, then it made sense to gorge and eat all you can while the food is there to be had. You may not get another meal for a week or more. Wild dogs who eat almost all meat knew this instinctively and they wolfed down as much food as they can as fast as they can. Most dogs today do the same thing.

      It seems man has adapted to do both - gorge and graze. Interesting nature designed man to favor eating high calorie foods like nuts, sugar, fruit, fat, and fatty meats. This makes sense because if primitive man favored eating salads over sweets and meat, he would be getting far less calories of energy per meal which means when food became scarce he would die of starvation first. Or when he came upon food he would select the low calorie food and again be on a very close margin to starvation. Natural selection at work.

      Of course, in a world with lots of food available everywhere, this has lead to humans favoring eating all those things which they tell us now are bad for us!

      The body does not know when you will be getting your next meal so it wants you to eat fat, meat, fruit, anything high calorie. Also since salt is required for life and often not easy to find in nature, the body loves salt.

      Bottom line is we just have the wrong body for the world we now live it. But then that's 'we', the half of the word that is starving and always short of food still has the right body for best survival.

      That does not answer which is the right analogy between writers and grazers but at least it gives an idea why there is no answer. : )

      Vince

      P.S. I just made some heavenly Paula Dean cornbread. Like they do in the South!

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  4. What a great post Pam! I would be interested in the "diet" life style change that you have been doing for the past year. I'm fighting stress big time right now and it is a really difficult battle.

    May you all have a blessed day!

    Cindy W.

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    1. Cindy, glad you asked. I didn't mention the plan specifically in the post. As Vince said, I tend to get overly excited reading/studying a particular topic, and didn't want to end up hijacking the writing thread with a specific diet plan.

      But since you asked... :)

      It's called Trim Healthy Mama (THM) and the overall idea is to eat in such a way that you don't spike your blood sugar. There is a book (who knew???) and a companion cookbook. I'm reading the book for the 2nd time and use my cookbook regularly.

      As I discussed in this blog post, every person's journey to writing and dieting is different... but somehow similar ... and while THM strongly advises avoiding certain insulin spiking foods, it's each person's responsibility to make decisions for their own health and what works for their particular body.

      The basic idea is that our bodies are fueled by healthy fats and healthy carbs, so I separate these fuels keeping them at least 3 hours apart. I can switch "fuels" every three hours.

      In real life, this might look like an omelet cooked in butter and loaded with protein, fat and veggies for breakfast (notice very little carbs in this meal, even healthy ones), and maybe a low-fat thick stew made with lean beef, chicken, pinto beans, corn, peppers, onions, tomatoes, spices, for lunch. In this meal, I'd need to watch what (if any) fats I added. For instance, no big chunks of grated cheese on top of this meal.

      And then there are the healthy shakes that don't require any special ingredients, but that keep those fuels separated.

      I'm probably not explaining it very well, so hope your eyes aren't crossing! My mother-in-law said it sounded complicated to her. But the book and the logic made perfect sense to me. This is something I can do and my meat loving hubby can do. I've lost 30 lbs this year.

      This engineering husband of a THM mama does a better job of explaining it in 3 simple points than I do. http://www.pinchofpatience.com/thm-in-3-points/

      And here's the link to the THM facebook group. An Admin has to approve every request to join. https://www.facebook.com/groups/trimhealthymamas/

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  5. Hi Pam! This is a terrific recipe. One ingredient I'd add is rest. When we're tired we'll make poor food choices and our writing isn't up to par. I'm happy you've realized diets don't work...it's all about a lifestyle. Happy New Year!

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    1. Great addition Jill. Thanks for the reminder.

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    2. Jill, that's a great comparison. Spot on!

      I know writers who can write for 8-12 hours straight (I suppose even longer) when they're on deadline. After about 3 hours of really hard writing, my brain is drained. At that point, sometimes a short nap is the best thing to refresh me and get me started again.

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  6. Hi, Pam! Your post gave me a lot to think about. My lifestyle needs some change, but I'm going through a stressful period. So maybe it's okay to give myself some grace. I'll reflect on your words today.
    Thanks!

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    1. Jackie, we do what we need to do. Praying the turbulence eases and you can get back on track soon!

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  7. Pam, I'm with you on the bag of chips. We'd be fighting over those. LOL. I ban them from my house too.
    Great analogy to writing. Stress is a factor. Exercise really does help. Thanks for the reminder.

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    1. Hand over the chips and nobody gets hurt! lol

      Sandra, you are the queen of a healthy lifestyle, and that energy bleeds over into your writing. I bow to your energetic lifestyle of pickleball, hiking and cycling. You amaze me!

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  8. I wish I could master these simple steps. It seems simple enough, but these are the most difficult balls to juggle there are. Balance. Sigh.

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    1. Isn't that the truth? Must easier to talk about them than to do them.

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  9. Hi Pam,
    Excellent post that relates to both life and writing. Thanks for the tips.

    I'm looking forward to The Promise of Breeze Hill, it sounds very intriguing. Putting it on my list right now.

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    1. Thank you, Tracey!! I can't wait to see what you think. :)

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  10. Big bag of chips w/dip. Yes!
    Oh wait, were you saying we're supposed to stay away from this?

    I've thought dieting and writing were similar often times. It's delayed gratification that we'll be so happy we did later. If eating/exercising were easy, no one would be on a diet. If writing a book were easy...

    It's also one of those things, if you've been exercising everyday for a month, it's just not big of deal.If you go run once every ten days, every time is painful.

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    1. Well, about those chips. I suppose we can have them if we're running every day. But that's not happening here at my house. Sigh.

      It's also one of those things, if you've been exercising everyday for a month, it's just not big of deal.If you go run once every ten days, every time is painful. Yes, so true!

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  11. Pam, this is so spot on! I've struggled with weight for all of my adult life (I was a thin child oddly enough) and this really spoke to me. I will try to be more conscious of slipping into old self-destructive patterns with my writing habits--especially not planning ahead and letting stress derail me completely. Thank you!!

    VINCE, I do that with books/articles when I'm dieting, too! Makes me feel like I'm accomplishing something, LOL.

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    1. Laura, I really hope to meet you at ACFW this year! :-)

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    2. I would love that, Cynthia!! I will be the one hidden away in a corner stress eating, LOL

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    3. Hey! I'll meet you in that corner for a little chocolate pick-me-up. Then... We'll walk it off as we head to lunch. hahaha I'm kidding. (Mostly) But we could still meet. AND surely just a TINY little morsel of chocolate will be okay, right? :-)

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    4. Planning ahead and stress seems to be the biggest issues in both areas, doesn't it? And time... time to prepare healthy meals, time to write. Another issue that rears its ugly head. :(

      Hope to see you at ACFW, Laura! :)

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    5. Pam, I'm so excited that the conference is just a couple of hours from my house this year. Hope to see many Seekers and Villagers and put names with faces!! Looking forward to meeting you!

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    6. Laura, that's wonderful!! I've been to the Gaylord Texan twice and it's amazing. :)

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  12. So, so good this morning, Pam.

    I gained about 10 pounds last year. I waited until the last possible minute to buy my gown for ACFW last Aug, because (1) I wanted RED and (2) I wanted to drop those 10 pounds. *sigh* Well..the red gown I waited for - to go on sale? Didn't... And then they were sold out. Those 10 pounds? Nope. Didn't happen either. BUT this is a new year and I'm back on track. I find my problem isn't overeating as much as it is having my bottom planted in the chair too long without breaks and exercise. (...Although I do love my mashed taters and gravy. Creamed corn. Angel biscuits. Deep dish chocolate pie with heaping mounds of whipped cream... :-) Hey! My Daddy's from the South, and I live in the Ozarks. We know how to cook here! Lol)

    Thanks for all your points, Pam. Such great reminders! I really need to bookmark this post.

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    1. Cynthia, that food group you just shared is making m hungry and I just had my on-plan bacon and eggs for breakfast, so I shouldn't be hungry! lol

      But I can make a sugar-free Chocolate Silk pie with fat-free Reddi-whip that's SO yummy and will keep us MORE than happy. ;)

      See you at ACFW in September, yes??

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    2. Cynthia, I'm drooling over all the yummy foods you mentioned!!!

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    3. Pam, yes ~ planning on attending again! And I hope to meet you and many more Seekers and Villagers this year. (Got to hug Debby's neck last year, and I ran into Julie in the elevator.) :-)

      Debby, if you visit my way sometime, I'll roll out the red carpet...er...tablecloth....and I'll cook up a storm!

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  13. Thanks for the post. Here I had a plan to write every day at least a few words or editing and polishing every day. Then my world turned totally upside down when my mother suddenly passed away. Not only could I not write or read but I barely ate. I am happy to report that after 4 days I was able to read and 9 days later I was able to write again.

    I am so glad that I am back on schedule, although I am still struggling with the loss and perhaps I always will.

    Even while I wasn't able to read or write, the plan was all along that as soon as I could I would get back to my writing and reading routine.

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    1. Wilani I'm so sorry about your mom. I'm glad you gave yourself some time off. If God can forgive us, we should be able to forgive ourselves.
      It sounds like you're being kind to yourself and that's wise.

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    2. Wilani, I'm so very sorry for your loss. While I've experienced loss in my life, I haven't yet lost a parent. I know that must be a deep, overwhelming grief, especially when it's unexpected.

      I agree with Mary. Loving yourself and taking care of "you" is important. Continuing to bear you up in prayer ~

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    3. Wilani, grieving is okay. Grieving is natural. But so is getting back to the things you love when you're ready. Sounds like you're right on track with healing.

      But as you said, the sad times will come and go, ebbing like the tide. Embrace them: Smile and have yourself a good cry, then dry your tears and pick yourself up. We're praying for you!

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  14. This is awesomesauce, Pam. Great motivation. And The Promise of Breezehill sounds a-m-a-z-i-n-g!!!! Even better it's in paperback format. Yippppeeeeeeee!

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    1. :) Yes, I've gone from digital first to ... uh ... well, whatever a trad publication with print and digital releasing at the same time.

      Three books in the series featuring 3 of the O'Shea brothers: Connor, Quinn, and Caleb.

      Cool, huh? :)

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  15. hi Pam
    This is a good list for life in general, not just writing/dieting. Must list this on a post-it on my computer at work as a reminder.

    Your blurb for Breeze Hill is intriguing, I'm with Vince - ya mean we gotta wait until AUGUST?!?

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    1. Thank you, Deb! I agree, August does seem SO far away.

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  16. Wise tips, Pam--thanks! Dealing with a houseful of family this winter, plus the holidays, plus several weeks of trying to get over the coughs and colds we kept passing around, I definitely had to go easy on myself. Guilt trips about what we're NOT getting done only make the stress worse.

    Congrats on the new book and gorgeous cover!

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    1. Myra, your winter is an example of the not-so-perfect stress storm. And you're right... the guilt trip only makes it worse. Been there, done that. :(

      But spring is coming!!! The colds will be gone and the sun will shine. Yay!

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  17. PAM, thanks for the excellent tips and a post that is such fun. We can't see ourselves as failures or we'll give up. I love the every three hour start over! We can re-evaluate the work and the plan and get back at it. Cause without a change in lifestyle, we won't get what we're aiming for.

    The Promise of Breeze Hill sounds terrific! I want to know more about the area, too.

    Janet

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    1. My new life begins every 3 hours. :)

      That 3 hours is fairly hard and fast with my eating. I was running behind with breakfast this morning since I'm trying to catch up on comments, so didn't eat breakfast until 10. I had bacon and eggs and rich, creamy coffee. Lunch is at one, and I can have anything I want that's on plan. I'm thinking of having a Banana Oat Shake. Love those things!

      Writing is a bit more contingent on the comments here, but it's starting soon! :)

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    2. I'm always amazed at how much we can eat when we eat healthy! I'm not big on shakes. I'd probably drink one and still want a regular meal. Maybe it's the chewing I crave.

      Janet

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  18. Well, since we're comparing writing to dieting, I guess I don't diet, or write. And as a reader, I could read and diet. Great post Pam and I'm waiting with baited breath for your book to be released!

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    1. Yay! Hope you enjoy The Promise of Breeze Hill, Marianne!

      Reading and dieting are not synonymous. As a matter of fact, let's don't even go there. Reading a good book ... say, something like The Promise of Breeze Hill ... is like indulging in your favorite dessert (I'm picturing the most scrumptious melt in your mouth chocolate cake) WITH a venti white chocolate mocha. And since this is my day-dream, it's all calorie free.

      No diets allowed when it comes to reading! Read away! ;)

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  19. LOL, PAMMY ... I knew this post was by you before I even read, "Pam here"!!! You give more great advice (and recipes) regarding dieting than anyone I know, and I count on you to do it, too, so THANK YOU!!

    LOVED this post because it really confirmed something my husband has been telling me for years -- your Point #2:

    "Everything will look better in three hours, or after a good night’s sleep."

    When I'm done writing for the day, I almost ALWAYS think it sucks pond water, but Keith gives me the evil eye and says, "It will be wonderful in the morning, you know that!"

    Well, yes, most of the time I love it in the morning or at least don't hate it like I did the night before, so I would totally concur with this point. In fact, Keith will actually order me to shut the stupid computer and take a walk with him or get on the treadmill or watch a movie, whatever, JUST to get me back to a positive mindset.

    What really blows me away is by the time the book is done and I'm reading/proofing it in final format, I am STUNNED at how much I like it, so I attribute it totally to God, because it sure ain't me!! ;)

    Keith will be very happy to know an author I truly admire agrees with him! ;)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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    1. Exactly! Julie, your comment reminds me of online reviewing my son is doing for his accelerated nursing program. The online review software forces the students to wait 4-5 hours (sometimes up to 15 hours) before going through the unit of study (called a review) again. But to get credit, they have to go through the online review 2-3 times (or more... I'm not sure how many times.)

      At first, I was aghast... you have to wait FIFTEEN HOURS before you can review the material again? I would go bonkers! Then I realized the brilliance of this strategy...

      It ensures the student doesn't procrastinate and try to cram all their reviewing in the 24 hours before exam day.

      It gives the student much-needed breaks and allows them to either sleep, switch to other projects/classwork, or just hang out for a few hours, maybe cook or go out for a healthy meal.

      And since they have to relax for a while and maybe actually go back and read the material again before retaking the online portion, they're learning instead of memorizing.

      He made 95 on his first test. :)

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    2. Oh, Pam, that is incredible!! And very smart, too, just like your son! ;)

      Hugs,
      Julie

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  20. Pam, great comparison! My body wants carbs and high-cal food when the temp drops. So each winter I battle the bulge...

    To answer Vince's question, this plotter likes to graze. :)

    It's almost lunchtime! I'll take whatever you're serving!

    Hugs!

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    1. Ha! Is it hot or cold in GA? If it's cold, we're having a very healthy stick-to-your-ribs beef and chicken stew. My secret ingredients will make you think it's high in carbs and fat, but it's not. :)

      If the weather is hot, we'll go for a healthy chilled chicken salad with a large side salad with your choice of dressing. Yum!

      That chicken salad might keep us from getting sleepy, so we'll spend the afternoon grazing through our wips! :)

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    2. What's you secret ingredient in the stew? Please tell!

      May I have both lunches?

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  21. Pam: Make healthy choices. Start over. Plan ahead. Exercise. Don't Stress.

    I should print this out and post it on the wall. Something always seems to fall through the cracks, but I have learned to get right back on the healthy eating horse right away. I keep track of my weight, what I eat, and how many calories I've consumed...daily. It keeps my weight in check.

    I do the same thing when I'm writing. If I don't keep a list with the date, my word goal, and the actual number of words I write each day, my project never leaves the starting gate. Too many beautiful butterflies to chase instead.

    Maybe that makes me a little OCD, but we do what we gotta do, right?

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    1. Barbara, I'm a listmaker as well, so I understand this perfectly! I used to record data in Fitday, but logging in seemed too much trouble. Now, I just use a simple composition notebook and jot down meals and times.

      If I'm travelling, I either keep up with the meals in notes on my phone and/or email them to myself, then jot them in the notebook. A few times over the last 15 months, I've gotten too busy to jot things down, so just make a note for those days that I missed and keep going. It's not so much that I will need to go BACK to any of this, as it's a way to keep me accountable and on track with what's working and what's not.

      There's just something about writing it down. :)

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    2. Glad you found a plan that works for you! Thirty pounds is fantastic, Pam! I need to check out your special way of combining foods. So amazing.

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  22. Pam, I enjoyed this and I laughed at your comment about lifting a 20 lb. weight (your granddaughter). My 3 year old granddaughter was a chunky baby and I also got a lot of exercise. My upper arms became tobed like they hadn't been for several years! LOL
    Connie
    cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. So true, Connie! And the good thing is we get to start with 6-7 lbs and work our way up to 20-30 lbs. Isn't that cool?

      Then when they get to be toddlers, we get leg weights. Who needs a gym membership? lol

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  23. Pam, that new book of yours sounds really good. I love reading books set in the south. Off to put it on my Pinterest board.

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  24. A splendid post, Pam, and I love the concept of lifestyle rather than diet. I'm a diabetic, have been for about three years, and I made a lifestyle plan the week I was diagnosed. I decided what I could and couldn't live without (French fries are gone, mac and cheese is gone, chocolate stayed) and I made it work. It's easier to say, "I do not eat that," then eat it and agonize later. I still have pizza, but only two slices, and there's always a salad. If I'm craving pasta I eat spaghetti with red sauce instead of lasagna, fewer calories, and stop at one serving. Another trick I have is only one carb per meal, like if I have said spaghetti, I do not indulge in garlic bread. I think about everything that goes into my mouth so I don't have to think.
    But "lifestyle" translates easily to writing. What else is Ruthy's 1K/1hour? She makes the discipline part of her life so she doesn't have to think about it. We should all do that, in ways that work for us individually. BUT we should also make sure we don't get burned out.
    GOOD POINTS for a New Year, Pam.
    Kathy Bailey

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    1. Kathy, that's a healthy way to manage your diabetes. Actually, the plan I'm on is similar to a diabetic diet as one of the goals is to regulate blood sugar throughout the day.

      I love the concept of 1K/1HR. Do I do it? Consistently? No. I must do better in this area!

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    2. Regulating blood sugar and losing weight sounds like a win-win to me, Pam.

      Kaybee, so glad you could make those life changes for your health!

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  25. This is great advice, Pam. I can relate to the chip and dip comment. We have a great dip recipe we make for New Year's Eve, and sometimes for Thanksgiving and Super Bowl. Our son who recently graduated from college and is temporarily back home again discovered he loved the dip. He seemed surprised to hear we only make it once or twice a year. I told him it was not meant to be something you have around everyday!

    For the new year I am trying to eat healthier and have a disciplined writing schedule. Since I am starting the year with a cold, I haven't done well with either. But it will get better and I will get back on track.

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    1. Feed a cold, starve a fever. Isn't that the saying? Hope you feel better soon, Sandy.

      I plan to get my mailings done soon. I appreciate your patience! Hugs!

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    2. Sandy, a cold can kick the best of intentions to the curb. Feel better soon and when you do... start over! :)

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    3. Thanks, Debby and Pam. I am feeling a bit better but the cough is driving me crazy. Was glad to get two snow days in a row, but have slept nearly all morning both days, but I will get back at it!

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  26. I totally agree. The habits that help to keep us healthy, help to keep us industrious. I love these analogies, Pam, as I sit here working while a thunderstorm rages around me... In January.

    I do 1K 1HR at least once/day. Even when editing, I make sure I get at least 1K written before anything else happens and after prayer time...

    And that's always my foot in the door... because I know no matter what happens, I've gotten that 1K in and that's a big word count over a year.

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    1. Ruthy, you are an inspiration. Your industriousness amazes me!

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  27. Hi Pam, great advice. I agree with everything you said. Stress eating is terrible for my health and it kills my writing abilities.

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    1. Yep. Same here, Sharee. I've started keeping some homemade sugar-free, gluten-free goodies in the freezer for when the stress gets to be too much.

      No matter what happens, I know that my snack is only a couple of hours away, and my writing is as well.

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  28. WHERE IS JAGEARS???? She deleted her comment, and she's amazing when she gets on a roll.... I can't produce words that quickly, I stand in awe of what she's able to do in a few weeks....

    I can have a solid elevated word count if I'm working on two separate projects, but to just go full tilt on a book... No can do.

    But I have nothing but admiration for those who can!

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    1. I bet she's got her nose to the grindstone or herding kiddos. She amazes me too!

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    2. Ruth I think the question is 'what's up with telling who deleted their comment?'

      Every time I've deleted a comment the deletion said "Comment deleted by the author."

      Why are we tattling on people now? Sometimes I make some mistakes and I just delete the post and repost it with revisions right away.

      I'm for the old and less embarrassing way. : )

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  29. Replies
    1. Bulk up a low fat, low carb soup or stew with some cauliflower and okra pureed in beef or chicken stock.

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    2. Cauliflower rice is big now.

      Thanks for sharing the secret!

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  30. PAM, when do you do the research for your books? Before you write? As you're writing?

    Janet

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    1. Janet, I've had the idea for an indentured servant story for a long time but wanted to hero to be the indentured servant, not the heroine.

      I can't remember when or how I settled on Natchez and The Natchez Trace for this series, but it's been a while back. I started making notes on this story as far back as 2008.

      The location and time period isn't as difficult to nail down as the characters, their backstories, and their GMCs. Sometimes that grows and morphs as I build the story.

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  31. Such a great post, Pam. I love the idea of starting over every three hours. It's so easy to just give up when I blow it or don't get things done the way I had hoped. There's much grace in this concept. Both in dieting and in writing.

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    1. Jeanne, that is so true.... allowing ourselves grace. And on the flip side of that, something I didn't mention, but should have (so now we're up to EIGHT tips) is the Payoff/Reward. In a healthy lifestyle, this might be weight loss, getting off/staying off meds, or just feeling more energetic and being able to get out more.

      In writing, the reward is very specifically the completion of a writing project.

      So, yes, I want to give myself grace, but as you said, I don't want to give up to the point that I look back and regret those wasted time that I didn't accomplish anything or that I let myself get to an unhealthy state.

      I'm not there yet, but I'm always striving to do better. :)

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  32. Thanks Pam! I love the reminder to plan ahead. I picked up a planner about a week ago so I can hold myself more accountable and remember to be deliberate in my actions. And I am totally a fan of the 3 hour rule you mentioned. I will definitely apply that to my writing and eating life. :)

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    1. There ya go, Kelly! 3 hour rule rocks. :)

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  33. Thanks for these handy tips. Though the thing that probably stresses me out the most is school. I have so much of it to do in the day and then when I'm done my brain is so tired and I don't WANT to sit down and work on my story... or do anything else that requires my tired brain to work.

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    1. Nicky, I understand this completely. In my former job as a purchasing manager, I was mentally exhausted at the end of many long days.

      And school takes so much of your time, and this is the season in your life that you want to focus on it 100%.

      The good news is that there are holidays (were you out of school for MLK day yesterday? :), Spring break, Summer, Fall break, and Christmas break. While that's not optimal, if you can plan ahead, you can get a lot of writing done during those times.

      We're cheering you on! :)

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    2. Yeah, I do certainly enjoy my spring, summer (especially summer), Fall (though this past Thanksgiving I had college-college!- to do, it was quite horrendous), and winter breaks. And I try to get as much writing as I can done then. The summer of 2014 was when I started writing my first book and I finished my second the summer of 2016. Though I don't generally get the many one-day holidays that other kids get like President's day, or MLK day off. And I don't get snow days either. Sigh. Sometimes being Home Schooled has its downsides.

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    3. And it doesn't get any better as a stay-at-home writer! We don't get snow days either! Ha! :)

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  34. PAM, I can keep things like chips and dip on the shelf for a reasonably long time, my husband has the salt fixation, not me, but I have to watch the sweets. I love the idea of the sugar-free pudding pie. I also make pumpkin pie with Splenda and low-fat milk and it's just fine, and I make apple cobbler and other fruit desserts with Splenda. I haven't really gotten the hang of doing cookies and brownies with the sugar substitutes. It's a journey. My grandfather was a diabetic in the 1950s and there was NOTHING for him except for sugar-free hard candy and horrible soft drinks like TAB. We have so many options now!
    Writing discipline: All my projects are either in the editing stage or being shopped around, i.e. done, so I've challenged myself to start a new one because I missed the actual writing and getting to know the characters, seeing things develop etc. I'm not quite brave enough to commit to 1K/1 hour, but I have committed to A Chapter A Week. If I stick to it, I may have a pretty-much done LI story by the end of Speedbo. Discipline is a must, plumbers and primary care physicians don't wait to be inspired, but we all have to find the system that works best for us.
    But we need to know when to give ourselves a break. When I was in Campus Crusade for Christ our adviser used to say, "Plan your work, work your plan, but don't let your plan work you."
    I am having fun getting to know these new characters!
    See you tomorrow!
    Kathy Bailey

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  35. Why did you have to mention diet, LOL! I just ate some chips. I'll work on this though. I'm so excited about your book set in Natchez. Our honeymoon was in Natchez. Such a pretty place.

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    1. lol - sorry Janet! Cool that you honeymooned in Natchez. :)

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  36. Diets. When I first saw a comparison between writing and diets, I thought to myself that I just have to find ONE that works for me in order to get published.

    As for lifestyle changes, my wife wants me to cut back on coffee.

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    1. Walt, coffee is the one thing I haven't cut back on. But don't listen to me. Ahem! :)

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  37. Pam, I love this! It's so true. And I really like this new way to think of writing habits! Thanks for sharing. :)

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    1. Now all we have to do is put them into practice. :)

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  38. BTW, chips is one of my stress eating items (a new bad habit I acquired this past year). I'm trying to have popcorn instead. :)

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    1. Popcorn can be a healthy sub for sure!

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  39. Pam, Thank you for the reminder of the importance of planning. As a plotter, I do take time to plan my book out, and that tends to reduce my stress level. I can bypass chips and dip, but a good cookie? Gets me every time, just like five minutes on the internet sometimes becomes ten to twenty. So thanks for the reminder to take a deep breath, stop beating myself up, and get back to writing.

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    1. You're welcome, Tanya! One hour.... or three ... at a time. We've got this!

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  40. Oh Pam! I'm so excited that you're writing about the Natchez Trace! How did you decide to use that locale? Beautiful cover -- looks very much like a house I visited. I started to complain about waiting until August. Then I realized that gives me time to catch up on all those Seeker books in my to-read pile :-)

    Thanks for the pep talk -- just what I needed to hear after having to step away from writing for more weeks than I planned.

    Nancy C

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    1. Nancy, can't wait for you to read it!

      I usually come up with the reason the characters cannot be together... as in he's an indentured servant and she's his master's daughter. Then I go from there.

      In my research, I then settle on a an area. 1790s Natchez was rich in history and groups of people from all over the globe.

      And the fact that it's within driving distance of me, that's a HUGE plus! :)

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  41. Very clever and encouraging. Another analogy would be putting off that diet for a more convenient less stress-filled time. They don't exist. Just keep writing.

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    1. Jubilee, you are write ... uh ... I mean RIGHT! :)

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  42. Hi Pam. You've made some good points...common sense and planning are essential, aren't they? Love it! By the way, I just checked out your website...it's positively beautiful in every way!

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    1. Thank you! It's due for a bit of housekeeping. Soon though!!!

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