The Care and Feeding Of A Writer

Way back in the day before electricity, before pens and paper writers really suffered for their art. A combination of poor lighting (that was where that saying: “Burning the midnight oil” came from), they wrote by candle light if they wrote at night. They used quill and ink and parchment and everything was done by hand. If they wanted multiple copies, each copy of the tome/document had to be painstakingly re-written by hand. Back then there was a name for people who did this kind of copying for a living: SCRIBE
I can imagine because of poor lighting, many suffered from poor eyesight and some may have went blind as a result. Still others may have suffered arthritis in the hands, or what we now call Repetitive Action or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome from the constant writing. Possibly back problems from sitting in a hunched over position for hours, days and years. And for all of the work, some writers/authors works (which spanned a lifetime), were not discovered and or made famous until they were dead.
Now writers and authors have a much better time of it. But, we still need to take care of ourselves so that we can remain in optimum condition to continue writing.
First and most important of all, we must have proper supplies. Back in ancient times, ink, and paper, scrolls were expensive and hard to come by. Now, it is as easy as going to our nearest stationary superstore to pick up paper, notebooks, printer ink, printer paper, pens, computers, software, etc. Why? So that we are well supplied in order to practice our art.
If painters must have a canvas(s) and a variety of paints in order to express themselves in color. And if a photographer must have his or her cameras at the ready to take photos which will inspire others. So must a writer.
Also. What are you reading? We writers must feed our minds in order to be inspired to write. Reading regularly must be part of our schedule. Even if it’s just to see what our competition is up to. . . . . . . . . . .
Now, here are some radical thoughts.
Writers must take care of themselves physically. How? What is your writing environment like? Is it properly lit? If composing on a computer do you have the proper keyboard ( ergonomic keyboard)? Do you have a proper chair which supports both your (lumbar) back and your arms? Do you have a mouse pad which has a “hump” to support your wrist?
If you are writing longhand what kind of pen are you using? Is it a “fat” pen (which has a cushioned barrel) and is easier to grasp and causes less strain on the fingers and hands? Pentel makes a “Pentel Wow” pen with a triangle base which is very comfortable to the hand. Also are you taking breaks to rest you hand and arm? Yes I use them and I buy them in bulk from Staples.
Spending long hours on the computer and writing means that one often forgets. Forgets proper meals, so we rush and grab junk instead of a decent healthy meal. Forget to drink water instead of soda, juice, coffee. And the most important of all, we forget to exercise.
A medical study came out recently, saying that our sedentary lifestyle (facilitated by the computer – fancy that) is killing us! Doctors advise that whether we are at work or at home to stop sitting on our duffs all day. To get up and stretch and walk frequently, or become a victim of high blood pressure, heart attack, or stroke.
Side note: I find that when I stop and take a PT (Personal Training) break and either jog or power walk, I often get fresh ideas and I come back ready and rearing to write.
Last but not least, sleep. It is important for writers to get plenty of good quality REM sleep. I being a suffer of insomnia have stayed up for days on end writing. However, the resulting CRASH is not pretty. You may be on a high for days at a stretch, but your body eventually must shut down to preserve itself.
And after a “stretch” like that what have you actually written? I’ve heard stories about people who claimed after imbibing or taking drugs that they became super duper creative. Well, I’ve read a couple of my works after some of my “insomnia moments” and the stuff read like it was written by my “evil twin”, it was gibberish. It was better I had not written a word. . . . . .

So quality sleep is extremely important for your sanity and the integrity of your art.
For those of you who get ideas before settling down to sleep or upon waking. Keep a pad by the bed to jot them down.
I’m not a doctor or nurse but I’ve learned these things over the years and wanted to pass them on. I hope they have been helpful to you. Please feel free to either comment or add to what I have already listed.

Thank You.


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