When you ask most writers what they’d like more of (besides money) they’ll say: time. “If I only had more time, I could write more.” But more time isn’t always the answer. Let’s face it, we all have 24 hours in a day. And we all have plenty of “stuff” to fill those hours.
It’s important to be mindful of how we spend the time we have: do we spend a lot of time on Facebook or other social media? Do we suddenly get the urge to clean the house just at the moment we’ve promised ourselves we’d write? It can help to keep track of how we spend our time, minute-by-minute, for several days. That way, we can see where we’re making other choices of how to spend our time. It can help make us aware of the need to commit to a time to write and stick to it.
Once we make that commitment, however, another challenge often arises: a lack of energy. That’s one reason why it’s generally best to write first thing in the morning, before the day’s other commitments drain your energy and willpower. Writing takes tremendous mental energy. Don’t underestimate it.
So, how can you keep up your energy so that you can get the most out of any writing session? Some of the answers may surprise you:
1. Drink water. It’s amazing how much of a difference being well-hydrated makes. Start drinking water first thing in the morning. It will help your brain feel clearer and your body feel awake and energized. Get your eight glasses a day.
2. Exercise. You might think exercise will leave you tired, but in fact it gives you more energy. Real exercise – cardio and weight training – are best, but any movement will do. Walk, dance, do some yoga, even for 10 or 15 minutes, and you’ll get an instant burst of energy.
3. Eat well. Since food is what your body uses for energy, it makes sense that this makes a huge impact on your energy level. Stay away from overly fatty foods (which will make you feel bloated and heavy) and especially sugar. Sugar gives you a quick burst of energy, but the crash will make you sleepy, and the subsequent brain fog will make it impossible to focus on writing well.
4. Get enough sleep. This is a no-brainer in the having more energy department, but it’s easy to find ourselves on a sleep deficit, and wondering why we’re tired all the time. Figure out how much sleep you need, and make it a priority. If you really need a break, try a Power Nap. Sometimes you do just need a little rest to recharge. Even fifteen minutes can help. And if you ask yourself a question about your project before you lie down, you may find your unconscious has worked on it while you napped, and you have an answer once you wake up.
5. Take a shower. A quick shower can leave you feeling refreshed and energized in mind and body. Additionally, the flow of water is known to help promote creativity.
6. Breathe. Inhale deeply, exhale slowly. We often breathe very shallowly, which leads us to feel tired. Getting more oxygen into our lungs is an instant energy boost.
7. Create a ritual. If you have a specific ritual that triggers your mind to focus on writing, it will help allay any distracting feelings that we may interpret as being “too tired” to work. Sometimes we’re not tired, merely overwhelmed by thoughts of everything else we have to do. Your ritual can be simple: turn on any anti-distraction software (Leechblock, Self Control, etc.). Light a candle. Take a few deep breaths. Stretch. Close your eyes and do a brief visualization of what you’d like to accomplish during this writing time. Make sure there’s a glass of water nearby. Find mini-rituals that work for you, that help you focus and create an optimal frame of mind for your best writing to emerge.
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