Live Long…and Publish (more) - Indie Pub It
There has been so much written about staying healthy that most of us are awash in a confusing sea of advice and yet more advice, and a good fifty percent of what you read conflicts with the rest.
What’s an author to do?
Don’t ignore the advice, for a start. Getting and maintaining good health has some seriously positive outcomes for authors:
You’ll live longer. That means you’ll publish more. I don’t know about you, but the length of my to-be-written list is scary and extends further with each passing year. I would like to cross as many off that list as possible.
Now that I am indie publishing, and can release titles as quickly as I write them, instead of being limited to a book a year or less, the idea is even more attractive.
You’ll maintain your faculties at a more advanced age, letting you write until they pry the keyboard out from under your fingers.
Indie in particular must remain intellectually agile, staying on top of changes in the industry and taking advantages of new developments.
Good health enhances creativity. ‘nuff said.
You’ll enjoy life while you’re writing all those books.
If you’re still holding down a day job, and end up having to double-time for years, yet, good health will let you control your stress levels and help you cope with the load.
The same joie de vivre will make you a more curious person, taking in more of life in big gulps, which gives you much more raw material to include in your stories.
While the subject of good health is incredibly wide and deep, and can’t possibly be covered in a single column, I want to touch on some of the primary areas of concern to writers in particular, with some suggestions for improving your own situation. If you know you’re weak in one of these areas, do a little research of your own, and work to make some positive changes. As you can see, above, any improvement is worth the effort. It doesn’t take much effort to feel some definite differences in your mood, outlook, and your writing, too.
Sitting v’s Standing
Everyone is talking about the evils of sitting all day, a problem that is exacerbated for fiction writers in particular, who pull ideas from their brain and don’t have to get up for anything, not even a reference book.
It is very simple to “hack” yourself a standing desk. I paid $40 for mine. It’s two TV benches from IKEA, sitting on top of my sitting desk, one of them with sawed-off legs for the keyboard to sit on.
Do your research on this. While standing sounds like a remarkably sensible idea, the actual practice of standing for long periods of time when you’ve spent years/decades sitting to write, can have a big impact on your body. Take time to adjust to standing. Take lots of breaks, sit when you need to (a bar stool comes in handy), but don’t give up and go back to sitting all the time.
And Still Keep Moving
Even if you use a standing desk, you still need to move as well. If you can stand and fidget with your feet, shifting weight and the position of your feet, that will help.
Another way to ensure you keep moving is to use the Pomodoro technique and write in twenty-five minute blasts, then take a break for another five. This can apparently up your writing speed considerably, too.
By this I don’t mean coffee, pop, energy drinks, or even tea. I mean water. It’s good for you and it also helps you concentrate. Focus and clarity are early victims when you are dehydrated, a chronic condition for most people.
Plus, if you drink water steadily, you’ll be forced to go to the bathroom more often, which provides built-in movement and breaks, too.
Are you like me? Do you get so immersed in a story that hours pass before you look up blinking, with a stiff neck and creaky joints, because you’ve been sitting motionless while your fingers did all the heavy lifting?
Set an alarm to “wake” yourself up. After 25 or 55 minutes of working, take a quick run up the stairs, drink some water, roll up your sleeves and dive back into the story.
Posture and Ergonomics
If you chose to remain seated, or are forced to stay seated for other reasons, then work to ensure your desk and chair and equipment are all set up for an optimal ergonomic layout.
This particularly applies to your home office setup—especially if you’re working at home full time. For years, for example, I had a keyboard tray that kept the keyboard at the right level so my forearms were horizontal, but the keyboard was too small to hold the mouse as well, so I would put the mouse on the desk, four inches above the keyboard.
It’s not a big difference and moving my hand to the mouse wasn’t really an issue while I was only using the desk in the evenings and on the weekends.
Once I started writing full time, though, that little lift of the hand to the mouse became a very painful issue. My shoulder and arm hurt like crazy. I ended up doing away with the keyboard tray, propping myself up on cushions so I could work with the keyboard on the desk, right next to the mouse. It wasn’t ideal, but changing my desk to a standing desk finally resolved the issue.
Home office writers tend to skimp on proper seating, proper lighting and more.
Don’t let little make-dos add up to severe health problems!
If/when you swap to a standing desk configuration, make sure the height of the keyboard works for your height, and that your monitor is high enough so your eyes are at the 1/3 level on the screen.
These are the major issues for indie authors and they are in addition to all the health challenges that face everyone – maintaining weight, eating clean, exercising, regular check-ups, etc., which are the foundation of optimal health.
How many books do you want to have written?
Tracy Cooper-Posey writes vampire romance series and hot romantic suspense. She has been nominated for five CAPAs including Favourite Author, and won the Emma Darcy Award. After a decade of legacy publishing, she switched to indie publishing has released over 65 indie titles to date. Her indie books have made her an Amazon #1 Best Selling Author and have been nominated four times for Book of the Year. Byzantine Heartbreak won the title in 2012. Faring Soul was awarded a SFR Galaxy Award in 2015. Tracy has been a national magazine editor and for a decade she taught romance writing at MacEwan University. An Australian, she lives in Edmonton, Canada with her husband, a former professional wrestler, where she moved in 1996 after meeting him on-line. Her website can be found at http://TracyCooperPosey.com.