For many writers, they write because it’s a great way to relieve stress. When you write fiction, you escape to another place and temporarily forget your real life problems. It can be therapeutic and cathartic.
But it can also be deadly.
For starters, you stress about your plot, and wonder if it will be strong enough to land you an agent or publishing deal. You stress when you get feedback that cuts deep and leaves you gutted. You stress when you have queries out and haven’t heard back yet from the agents after several weeks. You stress when you get nothing but rejections, either on the query, partial, or full. And once your book is out on Netgalley or on retail sites, you stress over your reviews. Does any of this sound familiar?
It’s something that every writer goes through.
But the stress isn’t necessarily the one factor that will push you over the edge. That risk factor comes from the nature of our job. Yes, welcome to the new smoking: the desk job.
Many of us spend our days at the desk, even if you don’t write full time. And even if you do exercise daily, it’s not enough to completely remove the risk. The best defense is getting out of your seat every hour and move. It doesn’t have to be big. You don’t need to invest in a treadmill and desk so you can walk while you type (not everyone can write this way). It can be as simple as putting on some music and dancing around for five or so minutes. It doesn’t matter what you do; the goal is to get your blood flowing. Not only will your heart benefit, so will your project. The time away from the computer and the increased blood flow to your brain will help stimulate the ideas that might have otherwise been stalled.
Now, you might be grumbling at this point, wondering how the heck you can do this when you have deadlines or when you need to promote your book. You don’t have time to take a short exercise break. But trust me, you don’t want the alternative. In my previous life, I was a drug rep (I also possess a Master’s of Science in exercise physiology). As part of my regular training, my company organized various medical talks so we could learn about the implications behind the diseases our drugs treated or prevented. One of my drugs was for cardiovascular disease and hypertension, and I had to learn about type II diabetes (one the most common medical conditions in developed countries). My company organized an opportunity to meet someone impacted by the disease, and we spoke to him while he was undergoing dialysis.
It’s easy for us to become too focused on our publishing journey, but in the end none of it will matter if you don’t take care of your health. Your friends, family, spouse, kids won’t care if you landed an agent, had a book sold at auction, or were a New York Times best seller when they say their final goodbyes. They’ll just wish you had taken the ‘new smoking’ warning more seriously. They’ll wish your life hadn’t been cut so short.
In the words of the famous Nike slogan: JUST DO IT!
blog/website. Her New Adult contemporary romances TELL ME WHEN and LET ME KNOW (Carina Press, HQN) are now available.