5 reasons why writing is good for your health

5 reasons why writing is good for your health

As I was walking along the beach this morning between slot one and slot two of my writing for the day, I began to think about the health benefits of writing. I mean, I get it – it is true that we writers are not the most athletic of demographics.  Out art is, after all,  sedentary – bum on seat, fingers on keyboard or pen.  Even painters get to stand for hours which is apparently much better for you than sitting down to work ( – though of course they are all alcoholics so the benefits are probably cancelled out.)

But I maintain that writing is actually marvelous for your health and here are my top 5 reasons why writing is good for you:

1: Writers are more likely to take themselves on long walks

When  in the middle of a hefty chapter, or having written your hero into an inescapable cul-de-sac, there is nothing that clears the cobwebs better than a good walk.  Take away the pain of running and the annoyance of having to get changed to leave the house, a good walk allows you to lose yourself in your body’s natural rhythms and think about your story in a leisurely and clear-headed way.  With the added advantage of doing some exercise too which gets your juices flowing again.

2: Meeting your writing goals enhances self esteem

Ask any writer and they will probably tell you that they go a little bit mad if they don’t get their daily writing done.  From personal experience, I know that once I have done my word count, I feel much more positive about my day.  By keeping a record of my writing for the day, I am able to really feel that I am working towards my goals, which is an essential element of self-esteem.

3:  Expressing yourself improves your blood pressure

If you keep things bottled up, your poor ticker starts to feel the pressure.  Whether it be ideas, thoughts, characters, or stories, keeping things locked inside your mind rather than giving them a  manifested form on the page, is actually a form of repression that can lead to all sorts of problems in the human body.  We are designed to find a means of expressing ourselves in order to release tension.  If writing is your means of expression then practice daily.  See it as a healthy means of decreasing pressure build-up in the body.

4: Writing develops your brain power and can help treat Alzheimer’s

Did you know that there are those who treat Alzheimer patients with Memoir writing classes?  The theory is that by using the brain’s linguistic function and bridging the gap between memory and language, we create stronger neural pathways and keep those parts of our brains functioning in a healthier and more revitalized way.  So when you are using your brain and searching for the right word or phrase, you are actually giving your brain a really great, personalized work-out, that is just as good as doing crosswords, or logic puzzles.

5: Writing is fun and so brings a renewed sense of positivity to our day

Yes, you heard it right, my dear!  Writing is … FUN.  Capital letters fun. I know, I know –   we would love to think that writing is hard work and that we are all suffering for our art, but the reality is that writers have inordinate amounts of fun in their work.  They get to play God, make up whole worlds, and tell stories for a living.  When things get a bit tough, why not remind yourself of this essential fact and find the fun in what you do.  Play with your story.  Throw in a curve ball.  Do something completely outlandish just to remind yourself that this is fun.  That mind shift will be just the thing to kick-start the story once again.

Or at least, these are the five things that I am telling myself as I go through my month long writing challenge.

Update on the Pantster challenge: 

Another 3000 words today which brings my up to about 12 000 words so far this month.  If you don’t know what I am on about then you can hop back to the first post here, where I explain the challenge and why the blinking heck I am doing it anyway.

I am having a lot of fun with this.  It is amazing what reveals itself when you start to write.  I hesitate to say that the Muse is with me but…. The Muse Is With Me.  I can feel her.

And she is AWESOMELY GORGEOUS.

 Leave a comment to tell me why you think that writing is good for your health… or not!  How are you nurturing your Muse?

In fact that, my friends, may well be the title of tomorrow’s blog post.

Until then, my lovelies, have a write good day!

x

 

 

 

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One Month, One Novel – No Plan

This is the month that I write a novel – with no plan.  I am officially joining the Pantster tribe and throwing myself into this one with my eyes wide shut and my fingers crossed.

Let me be clear – this is not my natural modus operandi.  I am most definately, by nature, a Planner.  I am a Virgo with a stationery fetish and a stack of notebooks just crying to be filled with dreams and ideas.

Why write a novel with no plan?

However, I had a terrible epiphany last month.  And it was this:  I am often so thorough in my planning that by the time I come to write I am completely over it.  It has become like entering into a romantic liaison having already watched the whole disaster panning out ahead of me.  By the time I have planned those darlings, I couldn’t care less about the main character, and tension?…. meh, not happening.

You see I have a sneaky suspicion that planning had become, for me, a very subtle form of what I term, Productive Procrastination.  You know, the type of procrastinative activity at the end of which you have something, and nothing, to show for your time.  And I wanted to try something different.

So, what is the alternative?  Pantsting.  Literally writing by the seats of my pants.  No outline.  No scene by scene plot arcs.  No orchestrated tension.  I was just going to throw myself into it and hope for the best.

The scene was set.  I had made the trailer.  It was scheduled in my Filofax.  Systems were go, go, go.

Day One

But somewhere in between deciding to do it and actually doing it, I found myself in a maelstrom of self-doubt.  What should I write?  What genre should I write in?  Was I writing to sell, or writing for me?  Should I finish the other novels first?  Should I revive my very brief foray into erotica?  Should I? Should I?  Should I?

So Day One was, in sporting terms, a No Show.  Rain Stopped Play, and all that.  Not that I wasn’t thinking about the whole thing.  Not that I wasn’t beating myself up like a gangland boss, and reprimanding myself for my lack of action.  But words on page?  Nada.  Nothing.  Sweeeeet FA.

Day Two

So Monday arrived.  Which was kind of like Day One, only it was by now, Day Two (are you still with me?)  The scene was set.  Kids were at school, I was heading home to write, but blow me, if a sneaky new novel idea hadn’t crawled into my brain overnight.  Like an earwig, this idea was gnawing away – munchie, munchie, munchie – and to cap it all, the blinking sun was shining.

Well, I ask you, what’s a woman to do but take herself to the beach to ‘live in the moment’ for a little while.  Well, an hour and a half later, I was back at the car and ready to return to my post.  I was Ready To Write.

Or so I thought.  Because then something very strange happened.  I had laptop freeze, which for those who don’t know is when I go to turn on my laptop but I just cannot do it.  Something stops me.  I don’t want to be tied to the keyboard.  This frolicking little pony in my mind says, ‘don’t do it!  stay free, my beauty, stay free, neighhhh, prrrrr’.

Which is, quite evidently, a problem.

Or is it?  Because my answer to this conundrum was pretty darned radical.  I have gone…. ANALOGUE, my friends.  We are talking notebook, pen, armchair.  Old School Portability.

“Paper and pen?”  you cry.  “Are you nuts?”

Well, it would appear that yes I am.  But here’s the thing.  It is working.

First session of the novel with no plan: 2400 words.

Which I think can officially be called – A START!

So what say you?  Fancy joining me?  Fancy freeing yourself up from the orthodoxy of planning and venturing into the crazy unknown.  Want to pick up a pen and just start writing?

Let’s do this thing.

All comments gratefully received.  Show me I am not alone in this.  Please….

 

How to write like a mad woman in the attic

Jane-Eyre-2011-jane-eyre-2011-25507868-1920-1040See that mad woman in the photo clinging to Michael Rochbender?  That’s me after the writing week that I have had.  Because I have been writing like a nutter this week.  Big aim for the week – get a 30000 non-fiction book down in rough draft.  Result?  Boo yah – in the bag!

Honestly, I blame the New Year.  I got sooooo serious about my New Year’s resolution process this year.  I mean,  I started thinking about my resolutions in, you know, October.  You know the kind of thing – visualising how great it was going to be to make those resolutions.  What pen I would use?  What notebook I would crack open?  How wonderful it would be to start a new journal…..  Like I say, I got really into it.

And then when 2015 actually, really, truly arrived, I went all out.  I mean, I was onto it like a rash.  Not an area of my life was safe from the crazy manic gleam of my New Year torch.  I dusted away those cobwebs from my ‘Writing Projects’ folder, wiped the inch of grime from my keyboard, spray-cleaned my ‘I am A Writer’ mirror and MADE A START.

How I wrote 40000 words in 10 days

My first mission was to finish a novel that I started way back last March, and then abandoned  about April in a fit of ‘I am rubbish, why bother’ syndrome.  A syndrome which, I should add, lasted all year.  ALL YEAR.  By the end of the year I was so bored of going with the flow, I was positively comatose.

This year, I am going decidedly upstream.  In the first ten days of January, I had macheted my way through 40000 words.  I will say that again – FORTY THOUSAND WORDS IN TEN DAYS.  You heard it here folks.  Imagine if I kept up that pace.  I would be able to write ONE MILLION FOUR HUNDRED AND SIXTY THOUSAND WORDS in a year. I put that in capitals because I am shouting that very loudly.  Know how many ‘novels’ that is?

I do – because I have a calculator, get me!

That would be the equivalent of …..TWENTY NOVELS in a year.  Twenty, can you imagine?  I mean apparently, according to the title of one book I recently ‘sampled’ on Kindle, “twenty books maketh not a kindle empire”.  According to that wise epistle, I should be aiming to have a hundred books on Kindle if I am to stand a chance of buying myself a cup of coffee and a biscuit once a week.

So I need to get onto it, don’t I?  Come to think of it, we all need to get onto it.  I mean what are we doing?

Here are some ways that you are wasting your time when you should be writing:

  1. If you brushed your hair this morning, well that’s about 25 words right there.
  2. Four toilet breaks a day = 150- 300 words, depending on… well, you know!
  3. Getting dressed.  Male writers – 5 words, women writers – 500 words.
  4. Cooking a meal – Male writers – 5 words, women writers – 1000 words.
  5. Household chores Male writers – minus 50 words, women writers – 1500 words
  6. Reading a book – 10000 words (what are you thinking?)
  7. Social Media – 100000 words at least.
  8. Meeting real live people for coffee and chats – 50000 words – ditch that habit
  9. Maintaining a romantic relationship – 500000 words. is it worth it?
  10.  Reading a blog like this?     – priceless

I mean you can see how it amounts up.  Which is why I have decided to abandon real life and instead devote myself only to writing. It’s the only way I am ever going to make it in this business. As of tomorrow,   I am doing a Bertha Rochester and refusing to get dressed, brush my hair, talk  in intelligent sentences, or even talk in sentences at all.

Well at least, until I get the next book written.  It seems like it is the only way.

I mean, gosh, those ten days were amazing, crazy, wonderful, desperate.  They were like having an affair with Captain Jack Sparrow – mad and unstable, but great fun.  I came out of them with big, big hair and a smug glow in my cheeks.  I felt GOOD, baby!

But you know, it may not be a lasting thing.  It may not be ‘reasonable’ to keep up that pace.  To write twenty novels a year, or even set out to do such a thing, would be the rantings of a crazy woman, wouldn’t it???

So, sorry Bertha Rochester.  It’s time for you to get back in the attic.  I need to brush my hair and get that crazy dust out of my eyes.  Perhaps we could hang out again once or twice this year.  If you promise to be good, I might even give you a little walk around the estate once a month.

But no promises, okay?  Still, thanks.  I enjoyed our crazy productive ten days.  And this week has been fun too.  It’s been … inspirational.  But I am getting tired now.  I need some time out, girlfriend. Loving the hair though…..

Laters

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