If you peeked behind the curtain last week and didn’t see me, it’s because I was recharging instead of rewriting.
Now I’m back. With a list of ten ways to ease the pain that comes with all of that mental activity. Ten ways to keep the body and mind healthy in the midst of tackling a rewrite.
1. Be gentle with yourself. You’re doing the best you can in the current moment with the knowledge you have.
2. Schedule a time to write, and stick to it. Be mindful during this sacred time and focus only on your novel. Don’t engage in other activities. When the time is up, leave the writing and do something else. If ideas come, jot them down. Try not to obsess about your novel outside of that scheduled time slot. It tires the brain.
3. Trust that the muse will appear at the scheduled time. Trust that the words will come when you begin typing or when you touch pen to page. Start the movement and let the words flow.
4. When writing, get out of the chair every twenty minutes. All that sitting is bad for your heart, not to mention your spine. So get up. Do ten jumping jacks. Or five squats. Squats are good. You want to keep those leg muscles strong so you’re not relying on a walker when you’re eighty.
5. Sit upright. Your head doesn’t need to be five inches from the screen. At the bottom of your pelvis are a couple of knobby muscles: the “sits bones.” Rest on them, and then roll forward so you’re sitting on the forward, flat part. This will align your pelvis so your spine can stack up properly. Your back muscles and digestive system will thank you. If you can’t manage to sit upright on your own, invest in a Nada-Chair. That “slouch-buster sling” will do the work for you.
6. Or don’t sit at all. Build your desk up. Or invest in a treadmill desk. A doctor I know wrote a whole book in that fashion. You might find deals on eBay.
7. Make sleep a priority. Set a bedtime schedule and stick to it. This gives the body a clear message that it’s sleepy-time; something your parents would announce if they were on hand to do so. Turn off all electronics an hour beforehand. If you slip up, and you’re on the computer writing into the wee hours of the night, at the very least download the free software program f.lux. It calibrates to your timezone, dimming your computer screen to a warm hue after sundown so all that blue light isn’t mucking up your melatonin, keeping you awake.
8. As a pre-sleep ritual, do some light stretching to work out the tension in your muscles. This will also relax the brain. Another tension-buster is to lie on a mat, place a tennis ball on either side of your spine, and roll on them, pausing at the knotty areas and breathing deep to release the tightness. Do something to quiet the mind. Meditate, focusing on sounds, for five minutes before bedtime; or listen to a calming CD.
9. Try to stay in the moment. When you write, write. When you sleep, sleep. When you plan, plan. If you find yourself planning the next chapter when you’re in bed trying to sleep, say to yourself, “planning, planning,” and let it go. If your mind is churning with thoughts, observe them as if they are leaves in a stream or clouds in the sky drifting by. It takes practice, but it works.
10. Spend time in nature. Reconnect to the energy of the earth, which vibrates on a frequency that matches your own. All that sitting in front of a computer unsettles the nervous system. So go outside. Walk barefoot on the lawn. Or stretch out under a redwood tree and read a book. This isn’t being lazy. It’s called Earthing. And it’s healing.
and a bonus tip:
11. Know when to write, and when to walk away and be a good animal: eating, sleeping, and hanging out with the tribe. You’re a creative being in a physical body with human needs. Moderation is the key.
Takeaways this week:
Pain-Free Sitting, Standing, and Walking: Alleviate Chronic Pain by Relearning Natural Movement Patterns, by Craig Williamson, MSOT
This. Only This: Mindfulness Strategies for Developing Peace in Every Moment by Michael H. Brooks
Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever? by Clinton Ober and Stephen Sinatra
In case you missed it, my rewriting journey began here.