I learned a lot about being a writer in 2014, and over these ten days, I’m sharing some of my tips. Here is Tip #5.
Have something else you love to do that does not involve sitting in front of the computer.
If you’re a writer of any sort, no doubt most of your time is spend hunched over something. In the olden days it was a piece of parchment with ink and quill, a candle stub quietly burning out next to you, a pot on the floor to catch the drips in your unrepaired ceiling. Then it was a typewriter. Thank goodness we have computers now, and most of us don’t live in Dickensian conditions. Still, if you’re like me, you probably have constant back, neck, and shoulder pain from sitting in chairs that are not meant to support hours of typing, lying in bed propped up on three or four pillows, or sitting on a living room sofa with my feet up on a chair. I should really get one of those ergonomic chairs, but I hate the way they look.
So it’s a good thing I’ve cultivated a number of hobbies that give my back a rest along with my eyes. If whatever I’m working on gets to be too much for me, there’s a good chance you’ll find me putting on my running shoes, downloading a new episode of Radiolab, This American Life, or lately, Serial, and going on a 30-minute run. What’s more, I usually have my best ideas when I’m in the shower afterwards.
If it’s around lunch or dinnertime, I’m just as thrilled to get my mind off my writing by going food shopping, planning a meal, or simply baking something frivolous. I’ve found that working with my hands is a thrill I can always afford: when writing down my list of ingredients for a new roast chicken recipe or stirring together a batch of granola, I can give my brain the kind of rest it simply does not get from anything else. Perhaps it’s the combination of hand-eye coordination with another level of planning and timing that gets my mind entirely out of writing and onto another task at hand, but it’s crucial mental time off that makes me twice as ready to go back to my ideas when I have to sit down at the computer again.