I’m seeing a physical therapist for help overcoming some neck pain, and he’s given me some tips that will improve my life—and my writing.
1. The key is balance. Our heads and our butts are supposed to balance each other so the bones in our spine don’t get shoved out of alignment.
Our writing should have balance, too. The beginning and the end should be supported by a healthy middle so the whole story works together perfectly. A strong story structure provides the skeleton on which a great story can be built.
2. Don’t put off doing the things that matter, like taking care of your physical and mental health. Things don’t go away when you ignore them, and they may get worse instead of better.
Many of us put things off for “someday.” Well, someday doesn’t always arrive, or it may arrive too late. If you want to be a writer, don’t miss out on the opportunities that come your way; be prepared to take advantage of them. Have your stories completed and polished, your proposals ready, your elevator pitches perfected, and start sending out queries—NOW.
3. Take responsibility for your own actions. No one can make you exercise or eat healthy food. It’s up to you to learn what you need to do and maintain the discipline to get in the best possible shape.
Don’t depend on others to fix your writing. Learn the basics of good grammar, story structure, characterization, and dialog. Read books, attend workshops, research how to write, and practice writing until you master it. Ask for help when you need it but accept the fact that you are the one who is responsible for what you write and how you write it.
4. Keep your head up and your shoulders straight. Don’t slouch, and never, ever assume the fetal position. This will prevent severe headaches and help keep your spine from deteriorating.
Be proud of what you write. Look people in the eye and don’t cower in fear. So what if you aren’t published yet, or simply write because you enjoy it? As long as you aren’t hurting anyone, you have the right to pursue your dreams.
5. Extremes are not good. Too much exercise breaks down body tissues, and too little exercise lets muscle turn into fat. Both can cause permanent damage.
Don’t be lazy, but don’t work so hard that life passes without you being aware of it. Take time to relax, and to interact with other people. Many activities can enrich your life and your writing, too.
6. Developing healthy habits early can make life less painful, but it’s never too late to start. Even if achieving perfection is out of the question, there is always a chance of improving our lives by changing the habits and activities that hurt us.
Good writing habits can be developed at any age, but the earlier you start the sooner you’ll experience their benefits. Perfection isn’t necessary to lead a happy, productive life, and it isn’t a requirement for a good, marketable story or article. Our goal should be to do the best we can, and that may require a change in attitude as well as in our behavior.
What habits do you need to work on to improve your writing? Is your daily routine helping or hurting your writing? What’s your favorite way to relax (PG or G rated activities only)?