6 Tips to Keep Yourself and Your Writing in Shape

by Suzannah Freeman

Woman running on beach

Have you ever sat at your computer for so long, your feet fell asleep?

How about back strain? Hand cramps? Tired eyes?

We writers work so hard on maintaining healthy writing, sometimes we forget about the importance of keeping ourselves in shape.

Certainly, a healthy lifestyle and strong body aren’t requirements for good writing, but getting the right combination of food, exercise and sleep can help us work harder and longer.

Here are 6 tips to keep you, and your writing, in top form:

1. Get Regular Exercise

I’m no paragon of virtue when it comes to regular exercise, but I do know that when I get out for a walk every day, I feel more motivated in all areas of my life.

Like me, you don’t need to run a marathon to keep active. Try a short walk, put on an exercise video, or lift some hand weights. Of course, if you’re more athletically inclined, all the better.

2. Eat at the Kitchen Table

If you write full-time, or if you’re at home a lot during the day, there will be times you’ll be tempted to eat at your desk or snack while you type.

The problem here is that you’re not concentrating on what, or how much, you’re taking in. It’s also much easier to eat high-calorie convenience foods while you work than it is to eat a proper meal.

Instead, make a habit of eating only at the kitchen table.

3. Schedule Your Breaks

Pre-commit to regular break times during the work day if you tend to write in blocks of several hours.

Make sure you give yourself a chance to stretch, take a bathroom break, and snack. Your productivity level will increase if you refuel your energy at regular intervals during your writing sessions.

4. Drink Plenty of Fluids

Sorry, coffee and Coke don’t count.

We writers love our caffeine–and that’s okay–but we need to balance it with plenty of water or other naturally decaffeinated drinks.

Try filling a water bottle in the morning and keeping it beside your work station. Sip at it through the morning, and refill it at lunch time. Or, have a cup of herbal tea during your morning break, instead of coffee.

5. Use a Supportive Chair

Saggy couches and squeaky kitchen chairs are not ideal places to write, though we often use them without thinking twice. If you can, invest in a decent office chair that supports your back and keeps you in a comfortable position. On a tight budget, you can find one second-hand.

Doing so will ensure you need less breaks, and will help improve your concentration as you write.

6. Get Enough Sleep

Some days you’ll be so tired from whatever other responsibilities you have, writing will be the last thing on your mind.

Should you force yourself to sit and produce something during a state of exhaustion? Are you even capable of writing something worthwhile when you can barely keep your eyes open?

Better to get some sleep and start fresh in the morning.

Take care of yourself first, and you’ll find your writing will follow suit.

What are your biggest challenges when it comes to balancing health and writing?

Today’s Challenge: Identify at least one unhealthy habit that is holding you back from writing more productively, and devise a plan to help you replace it with a healthier one.

About the Author: Suzannah Windsor Freeman is the founder of Write It Sideways, a blog where writers learn new skills, define their goals, and increase their productivity. She is co-founder of the Better Writing Habits challenge.

  • I usually write for about 45 or 50 minutes and take a 15 or 10 minute break and during that time I usually do some type of exercises…jump n jacks or push ups, etc. It’s amazing how just doing this keeps my energy up throughout the day.

    • Awesome! Keep up the great work!

  • Anonymous

    Ah, well, you got me big time on the eating at my desk thing. It’s true you don’t pay as much attention to what you’re eating when your mind is somewhere else. In fact, sometimes I go reach for more, one more cracker, & I’ve eaten it all!

    On the other hand, before I go into mindless eating mode, I am careful (usually) to choose a healthy snack. Either crackers & cheese or w/ peanut butter. Or maybe apples & peanut butter (yeah, love peanut butter!). And I do drink a lot of water.

    But if I made myself snack at the kitchen/dining table, it would enforce a break I’m sure I need. that will help come back refreshed & better able to concentrate. Thanks for the idea!

    • I think we all like to eat at our desks but, like you, I end up mindlessly munching. I’ve tried to stop eating entirely while I’m on the computer.

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