Joy Held's Writer Wellness

"Be well, write well."

Tuesday Tickle: National Library Workers Day

National Library Week, you belong at your library, April 8-14, 2012

National Library Week 2012

It’s National Library Workers Day. Be nice. Make them smile by returning your books on time and by clicking over to the archived site of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions for some really fun humor to share with your favorite library worker today!

***

Overheard from two library workers going into the library.

“Are you going out with the library staff tonight to celebrate the director’s birthday?”

“No. I’m going to book it home right after work.”

***

A chicken walks into the library. It goes up to the circulation desk and says: “book, bok, bok, boook”.

The librarian hands the chicken a book. It tucks it under his wing and runs out. A while later, the chicken runs back in, throws the first book into the return bin and goes back to the librarian saying: “book, bok, bok, bok, boook”. Again the librarian gives it a book, and the chicken runs out. The librarian shakes her head.

Within a few minutes, the chicken is back, returns the book and starts all over again: “boook, book, bok bok boook”. The librarian gives him yet a third book, but this time as the chicken is running out the door, she follows it.

The chicken runs down the street, through the park and down to the riverbank. There, sitting on a lily pad is a big, green frog. The chicken holds up the book and shows it to the frog, saying: “Book, bok, bok, boook”. The frog blinks, and croaks: “read-it, read-it, read-it”. 

Be well, write well!

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Monday Meditation: National Library Week 2012

National Library Week, you belong at your library, April 8-14, 2012

“You belong at your library” is an appropriate slogan for this year’s National Library Week celebration. Honestly, go to the library and once you get past the humility of the massive collection of knowledge and ideas all in the same place, look around at everything available to everybody from the casual reader catching up on the daily news to the college professor checking on resources for a class he’s teaching next semester. The point is that EVERYBODY belongs at the library. Everybody, that is, who respects the principle of freedom to access information. Lack of respect for the contents, the people, the equipment, the facilities, or the ideas will get you rightfully tossed out the front door by the gatekeeper known as the Librarian. It’s a tough job monitoring knowledge, keeping it as safe as possible from abuse, staying on top of current information techniques, and exploding technology. But most librarians are fantastic people with a lot on their plates but always willing to help when asked a question. Granted, we’ve all run into the crusty book warden who is a bit ragged around the edges, but the librarian is a jewel and should be treated like the most precious brooch in the collection. After all, she opens the doors everyday and believes in the same thing writers do: knowledge and ideas are only valuable when they are shared.

 

I have soooo many great librarian stories to share that one week isn’t enough. So here is a brevity list of all the ways libraries and librarians have been a great help to my careers as teacher and writer.

 

#A librarian near my hometown helped me access a primary source that inspired my first romance novel. If it weren’t for this particular special collections and this wonderful woman who let me read “The Message to Garcia” by Elbert Hubbard (1899), my novel wouldn’t have the historical accuracies it does.

 

#When my children were young and learning to love reading and writing, a wonderful junior librarian named Brenda made a point to find out what interested them and ordered books year after year that kept them coming back until they moved away for college.

 

#My favorite aunt is a school librarian.

 

#Doug at the college library where I teach never fails to amaze me at how quickly and efficiently he responds to my requests for materials no matter where on Earth they’re located.

 

I’ll save more library/librarian kudos for the rest of the week. What’s your library story?

 

Happy National Library Week 2012. Hug a library every day.

There are five primary areas of practice to the Writer Wellness plan. Every other week I will post an idea for relaxation (Monday Meditation,) creative play (Tuesday Tickle,) fitness and exercise (Wednesday Workout,) journaling and misc. (Thursday Thought,) and nutrition (Friday Feast.)

 

Meanwhile, remember to look for a digital or print copy of Writer Wellness, A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity at Who Dares Wins Publishing, http://whodareswinspublishing.com.

Be well, write well.

Joy E. Held

1 Comment »

Friday Feast: Pass me the veggies, peas.

We get our energy from food. Not from exercise. Not from supplements. Not from sleep. We get energy to burn and live from the foods we eat. We are what we eat. Literally.

There are seven personal habits of a healthy person:

*sleeping 7/8 hours daily

*eating breakfast almost daily

*consuming planned snacks

*being at or near prescribed weight

*never smoking cigarettes

*moderate or no use of alcohol

*regular physical activity

(Practical Stress Management, John A. Romas and Manoj Sharma, 2010)

I want to add: *no abuse of controlled substances such as prescription or illegal drugs.

Healthy eating enhances our ability to cope with stress and stressful events. If we are sustained through healthful eating, we are more capable of dealing with daily stress because we are not stressed by being overweight or under nourished. The whole idea to eating healthy can be summed up with one word: balance. The key lies in maintaining a balance of quantity and quality of food and regularity in eating. There are dietary guidelines leading to balanced eating for Americans as described by the government. I encourage you to review all the recommendations presented at MyPyramid and visit the website if you’re interested, but I also stress to you that just like the way we deal with stress is a habit learned many times from our relatives, eating habits are also learned early in life. If you are concerned about your eating habits, take a long and serious look at what you eat, how you eat it, and why you eat as soon as possible. It will be too late to seriously address your eating habits when you are faced with diabetes, obesity, and heart disease due to high cholesterol caused by a high fat diet.

The first step to balanced nutrition is awareness. Just like the principle of awareness of stress being the first step to learning how to cope with stress, awareness of eating habits is the first step to deciding how to maintain healthy eating practices. Because we take eating for granted, it is important to stop from time to time and look seriously at our eating patterns, write them down, and decide what changes if any we wish to make.

Ask yourself questions like:

+Do I eat breakfast regularly?

+Do I eat between meals?

+How much caffeine do I take in on a daily basis?

+Do I abuse any unhealthy substances such tobacco, drugs, or alcohol?

+Do I prepare most of my own food or does someone else make it and I heat’n’eat?

+Is my sugar consumption reasonable or is it too high? What about my salt intake?

After understanding that balance is the key to healthy eating habits and awareness of personal eating habits is the key to determining good balance, the next step is moderation. This is understanding that there are food choices available and that no one food should be consumed in excess. The key to healthy eating is know that there are food groups necessary to the body’s ability to function and that moderate choices will help you eat in a balanced way.

The body needs carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water in balanced moderation to achieve balance.

Lastly, there are things to avoid consuming in excess. These are alcohol, smoking, and drugs. While it’s common knowledge that many, many people turn to these substances for solutions to their stress, never are they successful. Never. The point is to learn coping methods and healthy alternatives to the use of alcohol, smoking, and drugs. All these substances do is post pone dealing with the stress. They do not alleviate stress in any way shape of form. They only delay the inevitable. And they pack on the pounds. Alcohol is full of sugars and useless calories. Smoking depletes the immunes system’s ability to function and ward off disease and causes disease. Drugs are a temporary fix. That is not coping. Drugs lead to dependence and decreased coping capabilities because they distort the nervous system’s ability to react and function.

Eat healthy and prosper!

There are five primary areas of practice to the Writer Wellness plan. Every other week I will post an idea for relaxation (Monday Meditation,) creative play (Tuesday Tickle,) fitness and exercise (Wednesday Workout,) journaling and misc. (Thursday Thought,) and nutrition (Friday Feast.)

Meanwhile, remember to look for a digital or print copy of Writer Wellness, A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity at Who Dares Wins Publishing, http://whodareswinspublishing.com.

Be well, write well.

Joy E. Held

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Thursday Thot: Triumph In Spite It All

Writers wrestle in solitary confinement to create work worthy of distribution to the masses.  We listen to our guts writhe and dare to write down the utterances.  We literally tap into the deepest seams of human components and release the secrets of the spirit in print for everyone to see.  Such creatures would be “pedastalized” in a truly free and creative world.  But we aren’t.

Writers are eccentric.  Writers are different.  You never know where a writer’s mind is even if you are standing in front of her looking into her eyes.  Significant others just get used to it. Even though the whole world relies on some aspect of a writer’s abilities, the writer is sectioned off “to work”, but really to put us where they can keep an eye on us!  Lest we indulge in daydreaming, talking to ourselves, or something worse like the historical bad writer habits of alcohol or drugs. 

Almost everyone knows of Hemingway’s alcohol problems or Poe’s drug abuse.  Why does the world have this negative image of writers?  Because history has a passion for emphasizing the foibles of the greats in an attempt to claim, “He was a great writer in spite of his flaws.” 

Flaws.  Imperfections.  Blemishes.  This is the stuff that makes us individuals, that makes us lovable, that gives writers a different perspective on the world.  A writer’s vantage point is precisely where her voice emanates.  What makes a writer is someone who notices that their voice and their turn of mind come from the same immeasurable place.  When I wrote my first short story in grade school from the outlook of two shoes talking to each other in a dark shoe box, I heard my voice for the first time.  Writers can see, feel, think, smell, and hear the worlds of other people and objects.  It’s what we do.

“I’m a writer.  I use everything,” said Truman Capote.  To truly be a writer, regardless of genre, you must ‘muse’ everything in your world and in your mind to the advantage of your craft.  It’s a task that comes easier for some writers than others.  It’s a question of listening and being open to what you hear.  How can you evolve into the grand writer you desire to be?  By leading a daily life devoted to expanding your body, mind, and spirit in every sense of the word.  By following the way of Writer Wellness.

The idea of Writer Wellness happened to me because of a hectic schedule and the natural instinct to “use everything” around me to create my writing.  When I was expecting my first baby, I published a magazine article about continuing to run a dance studio while pregnant.  When a guest artist taught classes at our local community theatre, I published an article about his career on Broadway.  When my life got wonderfully full of children, a household, work, and writing deadlines, I organized a system that would allow me to listen to my inner and outer worlds and maintain my writing voice.

Writer Wellness is composed of regular practices of journal writing, exercise, relaxation, nutrition, and creative play.  For example, depending on my schedule, my daily journal entry may be three pages long or just the front of an index card.  Exercise is either walking the dog, yoga practice, cardio equipment, or walking.  I ALWAYS find at least five minutes a day to close my eyes and meditate.  The food I eat is simple and grown as locally as possible.

Writer Wellness evolved from a personal habit to a community program and then into a book.  I follow the principles and guide others to do the same.  It’s a simple, developmental approach that any writer can try in any degree.  The results are tumultuous productivity and long term good health.  And triumph over flaws by using what you know as a writer to make your life and writing better.

How did you triumph over some imperfections to become who you are today?

There are five primary areas of practice to the Writer Wellness plan. Every other week I will post an idea for relaxation (Monday Meditation,) creative play (Tuesday Tickle,) fitness and exercise (Wednesday Workout,) journaling and misc. (Thursday Thought,) and nutrition (Friday Feast.)

Meanwhile, remember to look for a digital or print copy of Writer Wellness, A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity at Who Dares Wins Publishing, http://whodareswinspublishing.com.

Be well, write well.

Joy E. Held

 

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Wednesday Workout: You Are Your Body’s Mechanic

“Start a physical activity program, and keep exercising consistently.” ~Practical Stress Management, John A. Romas and Manoj Sharma

 The Oxford dictionary defines machine as “…an apparatus using or applying mechanical power and having several parts, each with a definite function and together performing a particular task.”

The Oxford dictionary defines mechanical as “…relating to physical forces or motion, physical.” If something is mechanical, it is physical.

I propose to you that your body is a machine. You only have to know the basics about machinery to understand that if the machine and its parts are not cared for and maintained, the machine breaks down, is unable to perform its duties and functions. The machine stops working satisfactorily unless it is kept in working order. It has to be taken care of. That is the job of the mechanic.

Your body is your machine and you are its primary mechanic. One of the actions you need to apply to your body machine is that of physical exercise because as the definition of mechanical states, “…relating to physical forces or motion, physical,” the mechanics of your body uses movement to function and requires movement to stay in working order. Regular physical exercise is one way to maintain your body’s overall health.

Think for a minute about eating. The digestion process involves chewing, swallowing, breaking down, distributing, and discarding the resultant waste products. Those are all verbs and verbs are action words. Every system in your body is about movement. It makes sense that movement is the body’s best ally when it comes to achieving optimum health and thereby dealing successfully with stress. Exercise is an amazing tool to deal with stress. Why?

Review points in the U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on physical activity (2004).

“The chief benefits of regular physical activity include:

+Prevention and control of coronary heart disease, stroke, non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, hypertension, osteoporosis, colon cancer, depression, anxiety, and obesity

+Improved heart, lung, and circulatory system function

+Better balance of blood lipids as a result of increasing “good cholesterol,” and lowering “bad cholesterol”

+Improved quality of life

+Enhanced functional independence

+Mental well-being

+Counterbalancing of adverse effects due to stress

+Improved self-esteem

+Maintenance of appropriate body weight

+Slowing down of adverse effects of aging such as memory loss

+Overall improved life expectancy.”

There are eleven positive benefits of regular physical activity listed. Eight of those eleven are related to emotional standards of health. If your emotions are in good health, so is your body. While physical exercise contributes immensely to the overall well being of a person in the mechanical sense, it contributes immensely to how we feel about ourselves and how much control we have over our lives. When we are in control of our lives through the use of healthy options such as exercise, eating right, and accomplishing goals, we are less stressed. Physical exercise gives us a sense of control over ourselves, our situations, and our choices.

What’s most important to remember about how exercise helps us deal with stress besides endorphins, neurogenesis, avoiding disease, and weight management is that regular physical exercise enhances our underlying self-respect. That intangible area of how we feel about ourselves is inexplicably linked to whether we exercise or not. Plain and simple.

Nineteenth century German philosopher Rudolf Steiner is believed to have said, “The first sign of life in a human is movement. The first sign of death in a human is lack of movement.” Our very survival is all about movement. It only makes sense that exercise be an important component of that survival.

What is your plan for exercise today?

There are five primary areas of practice to the Writer Wellness plan. Every other week I will post an idea for relaxation (Monday Meditation,) creative play (Tuesday Tickle,) fitness and exercise (Wednesday Workout,) journaling and misc. (Thursday Thought,) and nutrition (Friday Feast.)

Meanwhile, remember to look for a digital or print copy of Writer Wellness, A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity at Who Dares Wins Publishing, http://whodareswinspublishing.com.

 Be well, write well

       Joy E. Held

3 Comments »

Tuesday Tickle: Brain Power From Puzzles

Creative people need brain power. Brain power brings the good ideas out in the open so we can shape and form them into novels, paintings, or whatever medium it is we work with. Besides inspiration and the right foods, our mental faculties need regular workouts to stay sharp and focused so we can recognize a good idea when we see it. Puzzles are a quick and easy way to keep our thinking powerful. 

How and why do puzzles help our brains stay alert and focused? The brain’s mini-computer runs on “software” much like our laptops and other digital thinking tools. Our brains require attention, processing, cognitive flexibility, the ability to retrieve stored information, and reasoning skills to get us through our basic day. These functions need regular challenge and are strengthened and more readily available to us if we remember to weave brain exercises into our lives.

Schedule creative play and work puzzles on a regular basis and your brain skills will remain sharp and intact for much longer. We all have so much on our plates these days that working a puzzle for brain training rarely crosses our fuzzy minds. Keep it simple and play games on your cell phone, carry around a small word puzzle book, and keep puzzles readily available in the house where it will allow you take just a few minutes on a regular basis and work it out.

Here’s an interactive word search puzzle using words from the Writer Wellness plan to get you started. It’s fun. Try it and then look for other puzzling ways to keep your brain humming. What is your favorite kind of puzzle and why?

Writer Wellness Interactive Word Search Puzzle

 http://www.wordsearchmaker.net/wordsearchplayer.aspx?puzzleid=42e906f1-39ae-431c-ba09-3847845e5b61

**

There are five primary areas of practice to the Writer Wellness plan. Every other week I will post an idea for relaxation (Monday Meditation,) creative play (Tuesday Tickle,) fitness and exercise (Wednesday Workout,) journaling and misc. (Thursday Thought,) and nutrition (Friday Feast.)

Meanwhile, remember to look for a digital or print copy of Writer Wellness, A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity at Who Dares Wins Publishing, http://whodareswinspublishing.com.

Be well, write well.

Joy E. Held

5 Comments »

Friday Feast: Mash-ups and kiss-ups

In blog-quistics, a mash-up is a post about the interesting things you’ve seen and read and learned on other people’s blogs. Links are provided to help spread the love so your readers can click and experience the same great bloggers you’ve been cyber stalking. I tend to think of it as a kiss-up blog because it usually turns out to be one big love-fest where I say nice things about someone’s blog and they leave a comment saying “thanks, and what a great blog you have,” and someone else says “thanks for the link, I really enjoyed that article,” and someone else tweets the link and so on. What’s wrong with that? Nothing, but being nice is still a way to make people suspicious of you. “Smile and everyone wonders what you’ve been up to.” What’s wrong with being nice? I know a lawyer who paradoxically has a bumber sticker on his car that reads, “Mean people suck.” Why do we expect meanness and grumpiness? Sadly it’s because everyone has their force shield up all the time because all we ever hear about are the poopy things. Sure the news channels tack on a “feel good” piece at the end of the show, but it is outnumbered every half-hour by the depressing, sad, frightening, disheartening stories. So we are trained by our media consumptions that what’s important, what should be top of the news list is death, destruction, and disorderliness. There is certainly enough out there to be the lead story every news hour, but where is the balance? It’s in the small, individual efforts of bloggers and bloggettes to kiss-up to each other and emphasize the good at the top of the hour instead of the poopy. Will you take up the banner with me and post your own mash-up and show some love? I always list my compadres at Who Dares Wins Publishing in links and every blog I post. We’re a team. Who’s on your team? Below you’ll find some of the places I planted my eyes recently and appreciated the thoughts. Check them out and tell them I sent you!

Joanna Aislinn guest blogJoanna Aislinn has just started a brilliant series about discipline and control. Read a little bit before you think it’s not something you’d be interested in.  http://joannaaislinn.wordpress.com/2012/02/28/finally-that-new-series-i-promised-discipline-v-control/

Donna Ballman is a lawyer (no it’s not her bumper sticker) with a blog specifically for writers. She writes about the most fascinating things that will help with writing about the law in fiction or non-fiction. She’s is a great writer and makes the complicated easy to understand. http://writereport.blogspot.com/

Jane Friedman has a great post about writer’s websites that is concise and helpful. I enjoyed it alot. http://janefriedman.com/2012/02/27/effective-author-website/

There are five primary areas of practice to the Writer Wellness plan. Every other week I will post an idea for relaxation (Monday Meditation,) creative play (Tuesday Tickle,) fitness and exercise (Wednesday Workout,) journaling and misc. (Thursday Thought,) and nutrition (Friday Feast.)

Meanwhile, remember to look for a digital or print copy of Writer Wellness, A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity at Who Dares Wins Publishing, http://whodareswinspublishing.com.

And check out these great blogs for ideas to keep your writing and publishing healthy and prosperous.

http://writeitforward.wordpress.com/ Bob Mayer

http://jenniholbrooktalty.wordpress.com/ Jenni Holbrook

http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/ Kristen Lamb

http://inspiration4writers.blogspot.com/ Inspiration for Writers, Inc.

http://pentopublish.blogspot.com/ Natalie Markey

http://amyshojai.com Amy Shojai

Check out my new website Joy E. Held

Have you subscribed to this Writer Wellness blog yet? Get email updates when a new post is added. Click “subscribe” and leave your email. That’s it and thanks in advance!

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Thursday Thot: Filling the well

Look around. Is your work…well, is it ‘work’ and not one exciting, innovative creation after another? Could your material be so predictable that you are in what dancer/choreographer Twyla Tharp calls “a false start?” Tharp defines a “false start,” or a creative rut as different from being blocked and most definitely different from being in a good groove. “A rut is the part of the journey where you’re spinning your wheels, spitting out mud behind you, splattering other people, and not going anywhere. You know you’re in a rut when you annoy other people, bore your collaborators and supporters, fail to challenge yourself, and get the feeling that the world is moving on while you’re standing still. You may also feel that you’ve been here before; déjà vu, with some flop sweat on the side, is a sure sign of a rut. Perhaps the surest sign is a feeling of frustration and relief when you’re done (“Boy, I’m glad that’s over!”) rather than anticipatory pleasure (“I can’t wait to get back here tomorrow.”) Call it consistency, following a syllabus, or teaching a “graded system,” you know when your work is dry and uninspired. It happens to everyone. Don’t worry. There are some simple ideas to help refresh your artistry and renew the feeling of, “I love being me!” that every creative person knows.

If the inspiration inclination has temporarily slipped away and writing another page feels like pulling teeth (your own,) it could be a simple matter of needing to “fill the well” as writer Julia Cameron refers to in her book “The Artist’s Way.” Cameron says that the artist’s brain relies on images and that creativity is sometimes blocked or stymied by a lack of artistic brain food. Cameron recommends regular “artist dates” with yourself to “restock the pond” of artful ideas you seem to be lacking.

For an artist date, you simply schedule yourself to attend a thought provoking artistic event like a gallery opening or orchestra concert and ingest the sensations all around to help replenish your own source of creative energy. Cameron suggests a habitual practice of artist dates until you understand the ebb and flow of your creativity and how to use the work of other inspired creators to support your own creations.

When I first tried the regular artist date, it annoyed me because I felt like I was being taken away from my own work. Cameron and Tharp both claim that resistance is a sure sign that a respite is most assuredly the best medicine. After a year of consistently attending art shows, poetry readings, and independent film showings, I noticed a rush of recurrent creativity to the point where I can hardly keep up with myself today!

I heard a lecture by children’s author Phyllis Reynolds Naylor who summed up how I feel. Someone asked her what she did for writer’s block. “I don’t have writer’s block,” she said. “I have so many ideas floating around in my head all the time that I have writer’s diarrhea!” I now have a habit of enjoying the work of other artists and I’m positive it contributes to my never-ending flow of creativity and ideas.

Inspiration is always available to the artist who understands that creativity is a process dependent on many details. Here are some ideas to consider.

Low budget

1) Read books and magazines on creativity.

2) Start a journal. You will be amazed at the creative freedom you can experience from a regular habit of journaling.

3) Find an online community of artists and communicate.

4) Attend free art events like gallery showings, outdoor concerts, and crafts fairs.

Medium budget

1) Take classes from another local teacher. Online classes are getting better and better. Try one of the online workshops at Who Dares Wins Publishing www.whodareswinspublishing.com. Learning rejuvenates the creative spirit.

2) Analyze the work of other artists. Take pencil and paper and write down what you see or read in videos and books and dissect the creativity of others. Explain to yourself why they did what they did, and then how you would have done it differently and why.

3) Attend poetry readings, art shows, etc. at the local gallery or coffee shop.

4) Cruise through a history museum or see a local theatre production. 

High budget

1) Travel to an artist’s retreat or big city where art is revered and the process is respected. Take part in performances, conferences, workshops, and activities that allow you to deeply experience the art.

2) Take college courses at home or far away that will expand your appreciation of creativity.

Meanwhile, remember to look for a digital or print copy of Writer Wellness, A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity at Who Dares Wins Publishing, http://whodareswinspublishing.com.

There are five primary areas of practice to the Writer Wellness plan. Every other week I will post an idea for relaxation (Monday Meditation,) creative play (Tuesday Tickle,) fitness and exercise (Wednesday Workout,) journaling and misc. (Thursday Thought,) and nutrition (Friday Feast.)

 

And check out these great blogs for ideas to keep your writing and publishing healthy and prosperous.

 

http://writeitforward.wordpress.com/ Bob Mayer

 

http://jenniholbrooktalty.wordpress.com/ Jenni Holbrook

 

http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/ Kristen Lamb

 

http://inspiration4writers.blogspot.com/ Inspiration for Writers, Inc.

 

http://pentopublish.blogspot.com/ Natalie Markey

 

http://amyshojai.com Amy Shojai

 

Check out my new website Joy E. Held

 

Have you subscribed to this Writer Wellness blog yet? Get email updates when a new post is added. Click “subscribe” and leave your email. That’s it and thanks in advance!

 Be well, write well.

1 Comment »

Wednesday Workout: I don’t have time

 I once read in a pop icon’s autobiography that none of his work was his own. He considered himself a vessel or a conduit for some unseen, powerful creative spirit and it was his duty to deliver these songs and dances to the world for this artistic deity. What if he was right? What if there is a master puppeteer pulling on our strings and sending us the ideas? For the sake of argument, shouldn’t we be in good condition to accept these wonderful creations? Would we fail the great artist if we were full of nicotine, fat, caffeine, drugs, and booze and didn’t have room to take in the art? Yes, there are scores of unhealthy artistic people who have left their marks on society but think of how much more valuable work we might have known from them if they were in better physical shape.

Except for those who have just landed on our fair planet, the rest of us are aware of the positive benefits of physical exercise. Weight loss, muscle tone, cardiovascular conditioning, longevity, improved mood, and better sex can all be the results of regular activity such as walking, yoga, and lifting weights. Granted, I’m simplifying things because I want to get to my point: what is the point of exercising? We know about the results, but what is the point? If we are going to be artistic chalices full of great ideas and inspiration, there has to be room for all that stuff. The main point of physical exercise is to remove toxins from the inside out to improve and regulate our bodily functions. Sluggishness creates more writer’s block and missed deadlines than lack of inspiration. When our bodies are full of crap, we can’t create as well. We have to exercise to help move all the crap out of our systems literally and figuratively.

“I will tell you what I have learned myself. For me, a long five or six mile walk helps. And one must go alone and every day.”

                ~Brenda Ueland, author If You Want To Write, A Book About Art, Independence and Spirit

Let’s cut to the chase. If you exercise physically on a regular and consistent basis, your writing will show marked improvement over time and it will be ENJOYABLE. Writing is downright painful and exhausting when writers are already bogged down with sweat, free radicals, evil thoughts and whatever else is built up in the body and mind from lack of trying to wring it from their very souls. But who has the time?

“I don’t have time” is the lazy person’s excuse. And it also means they have set unrealistic expectations for exercise. These ideals are crafted to set the person up for failure. So rather than schedule yourself to run the Boston marathon in the spring, design an exercise schedule that is manageable and practical for your individual needs.  Here are three quick ideas.

  1. Keep two soft stress balls on your desk. Every hour stand up and squeeze the balls with your hands for one minute. Increase cardiovascular benefits by raising and lowering your arms as you squeeze.
  2. Get a wooden foot roller thingy and keep it on the floor under your desk. Every hour, take off your shoes and massage the bottoms of your feet with the roller.
  3. Take a walk every day. Inside on the treadmill or outside on the sidewalk. Start with five minutes and work up a thirty-minute walk several times a week.

There are five primary areas of practice to the Writer Wellness plan. Every other week I will post an idea for relaxation (Monday Meditation,) creative play (Tuesday Tickle,) fitness and exercise (Wednesday Workout,) journaling and misc. (Thursday Thought,) and nutrition (Friday Feast.)

Meanwhile, remember to look for a digital or print copy of Writer Wellness, A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity at Who Dares Wins Publishing, http://whodareswinspublishing.com.

And check out these great blogs for ideas to keep your writing and publishing healthy and prosperous.

http://writeitforward.wordpress.com/ Bob Mayer

http://jenniholbrooktalty.wordpress.com/ Jenni Holbrook

http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/ Kristen Lamb

http://inspiration4writers.blogspot.com/ Inspiration for Writers, Inc.

http://pentopublish.blogspot.com/ Natalie Markey

http://amyshojai.com Amy Shojai

Check out my new website Joy E. Held

Have you subscribed to this Writer Wellness blog yet? Get email updates when a new post is added. Click “subscribe” and leave your email. That’s it and thanks in advance!

Be well, write well.

 

5 Comments »

Tuesday Tickle: Whooey

“So you see, imagination needs moodling—long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling and puttering.”

                ~Brenda Ueland, author If You Want to Write, A Book About Art, Independence and Spirit

Creative people are dependent on their imaginations. The perpetual answer to, “What if?” fuels the work of artists, choreographers, teachers, writers, and anybody who relies on ideas for sustenance. Ideas are generally responses to sensory input from the world we experience day in and day out. If all it takes is the world to stimulate creative ideas, where did the idea of “writer’s block” come from? How is it possible NOT to have something to write about if all we need is experience? Writers become too comfortable in their surroundings and what feels like consistency becomes boredom. Boredom becomes complacency. When the brain is bored it shuts down. When we stop feeding our brains a variety of sensory impulses, we go on autopilot for a while, then the ideas dry up.

In Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way, she describes a process called “filling the well” as the work creative people require on a regular, ongoing basis in order to maintain “focused attention,” or what I call awareness. Many people think they are aware, but most people are secure in their situations because they have created and repeated them over and over until the sensory organs shut down and they think they are experiencing writer’s block. While it’s popular to say you have or have had writer’s block, I think it’s a bunch of whooey. Because if we journal often enough, read plenty, exercise regularly, avoid foods that cause us problems, and engage the world in new ways then writer’s block is a myth. A writer may not have the whole story plotted out or be writing on the work-in-progress every single day, but as long as that writer keeps the keyboard tapping or the pushing the pen or the body and the mind thinking and moving, they are not blocked. Ever. How does it work?

I was in the audience at a book fair several years ago and young adult bestselling author Phyllis Reynolds Naylor was answering questions. A  young man asked what she did when she had writer’s block. Ms. Naylor responded, “I never have writer’s block. I have writer’s diarrhea. I don’t have time to write all the stories I can think of.” A very prolific writer, Naylor knew that the more she wrote the more she had to write, but everyone gets tired. That’s when the brain needs entertaining and the chance to feed itself with sights, sounds, motions, smells, and feelings it hasn’t experienced recently to shake up the creative juices and get them spilling onto the page again. This is what I refer to as creative play. It’s when a writer takes a leap out into the world and thoughtfully fills her mind with the ideas, arts, and images of other creative people.

It’s more than reading a good book or going to the movies. It’s going to museums, taking walks, taking pictures, doodling in a journal, taking a class in ceramics or ballroom dance, and attending concerts and lectures that open your awareness to the possibilities out there. The practice of creative play or “filling the well” is the opposite of what most writers do all day in their jobs. That’s primarily why it’s such a challenge. Our writing is about us and just us. We manipulate fictional lives and imaginary settings, but creative play demands we go out in the world and gain a new awareness by appreciating the work of other artists. It’s that simple. Appreciate someone else’s work in a deep, thoughtful manner on a regular basis and you will never run out of anything to write.

There are five primary areas of practice to the Writer Wellness plan. Every other week I will post an idea for relaxation (Monday Meditation,) creative play (Tuesday Tickle,) fitness and exercise (Wednesday Workout,) journaling and misc. (Thursday Thought,) and nutrition (Friday Feast.)

Meanwhile, remember to look for a digital or print copy of Writer Wellness, A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity at Who Dares Wins Publishing, http://whodareswinspublishing.com.

And check out these great blogs for ideas to keep your writing and publishing healthy and prosperous.

http://writeitforward.wordpress.com/ Bob Mayer

http://jenniholbrooktalty.wordpress.com/ Jenni Holbrook

http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/ Kristen Lamb

http://inspiration4writers.blogspot.com/ Inspiration for Writers, Inc.

http://pentopublish.blogspot.com/ Natalie Markey

http://amyshojai.com Amy Shojai

Check out my new website Joy E. Held

Have you subscribed to this Writer Wellness blog yet? Get email updates when a new post is added. Click “subscribe” and leave your email. That’s it and thanks in advance!

Be well, write well.

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