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.
|The Promise of Breeze Hill - Available for preorder from your favorite Retailer|
The Promise of Breeze Hill, A Natchez Trace Novel
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.