Are You a Healthy Writer?
As a freelance editor, it’s common for me to spend up to twelve hours a day at my workstation. No real surprise in that, you might think, especially if you’re a writer slogging through your day to develop your novel into something that has the legs to take it out into the big, bad, self-publishing world.
As writers, editors, etc., spending hours at your keyboard is par for the course. It’s what we do and, to be honest, it’s not something we complain about. No too much, anyway. No, the problem is how detrimental such a sedentary regime is to our overall health. How many of you are battling with your weight? What about all those back and muscle issues you’ve developed since you became what equates to a full-time writer? Have you had to struggle against the darkness due to heightened stress levels?
I’ve always been a physically active individual. I like cake a bit too much so recognised the importance of getting out there to keep the ‘happy inches’ off, and more times than not I succeeded in keeping relatively trim and healthy.
That all changed when I became a freelance editor. With no shortage of work, it wasn’t too long before I discovered that my favourite clothes weren’t fitting me as comfortably as they used to. And because the workload was constant, I found that I now had to drag myself out to get a bit of fresh air and light, never mind actual physical activity.
I thought I was doing okay, getting out most days, even if it was just to scoot over to the shops, or to sit on a bench at the river and watch the swans and ducks doing their wonderful thing. But building the business was the priority and my full focus slipped from myself to my work. A week after Christmas, my partner and I weighed ourselves, and it was with shock that I realised the weight had just piled on during the past year - I was a stone and a half overweight.
That was a month ago. My workload is still heavy, but now I’m adamant that I get active at least once every day. I’m up and out before 7.30 each morning, pushing through a five mile power walk through the local woods and along the lake that ends in a pretty serious stretching routine. Once I’m showered I get down to work, but now I ensure that I take a few minutes break every half hour or so where I walk through my house, stretching and bending (and making tea) and doing my eye exercises.
Instead of sitting all day, I now spend every second hour standing, with my laptop on a sturdy pile of books on my kitchen table (got that great idea from a writing friend who almost seized up from too much sitting). I move from my trusty armchair at my favourite window to my kitchen, and back again, getting my stretches and shoulder rolls in as I go, guaranteeing a solid flow of activity through my working day.
Best of all, I’ve cut back on my working schedule and now have a few hours to enjoy socially each evening. I love my work, but life’s way too short not to have that bit of time for yourself and your loved ones. And best of all, I’ve lost several pounds each week – some more than others – and many of my favourite clothes no longer evoke groans of discomfort.
Because writing and editing require constant high focus, it’s essential to control stress that we might not always be aware of. I’m a laid back kind of guy. I’m into things that encourage me to chill out, which is why I’ve joined a tai-chi class, a discipline I practised years ago but allowed fall by the wayside. It’s the best thing I’ve done in years. I’m so relaxed after it, I almost don’t know myself, and I’d recommend it to anyone who spends much of their day at their computer. It not only stretches the body in a gentle way, it also invigorates the internal elements.
As a writer/editor/artist, do you keep physically active to ensure you remain relatively fit? Have you any tips you’d like to share below?