For love or money? That's always the question when you're writing books, isn't it? If you want to turn writing into your career, you've got to take care of your health. Authors are a notoriously unhealthy bunch with a lot of bad habits, whether they're trying to live the Hemingway lifestyle or simply pounding the keys for too many hours in the day. A long-time writing career puts many demands on your health, all of which you've got to deal with if you want to keep producing. Here are some changes you can make now to make sure you're able to write well in the next few decades.
Take Care of Your Eyes
How often do you spend the whole day writing and end up with scratchy, blurry eyes? Staring at a monitor for hours at a time can do permanent damage after years of writing. Your eyes are crucial in this business, and it's easy for adults to develop serious eye diseases without noticing any symptoms. Schedule a comprehensive eye exam as soon as possible, and go back for rechecks as often as the doctor recommends. For most adults with no eye problems that's every three years. If you wear eyeglasses or have any signs of developing disease, the optometrist will want to see you every year.
Learn to Use Speech-to-Text
Have you ever wondered what would happen if you broke a wrist falling on ice or jammed a thumb playing basketball? Once you get out of the emergency room, how will you write for the next six to eight weeks? Dragon Naturally Speaking is the gold standard for author dictation programs, but there's a free one connected with Google Docs, as well as other, lesser-known versions you can find online. If anything happens to your hands or arms, the ability to dictate could save your career. Get used to the process now and practice regularly by using it to write your blog, a short series, or newsletter emails to your fans.
The Dreaded Exercise
Authors are a sedentary lot, working at the computer all day long. They even spend vacation time sitting when they meet up at writer's conferences. Sitting in front of a computer all day long not only increases the size of your backside, it increases your chance of heart disease, blood clots in your legs, and a wide variety of other health problems. Set an alarm and move for the last ten minutes of every hour while you're working. Play three songs and dance to them, walk around the block, or just do a load of laundry. You'll lower your blood sugar, burn off calories, and keep your muscles toned.
Indulge in Healthy Snacks
Take a look at your desk. What evidence of snacks do you see? If you're surrounded by candy wrappers and coffee cups, you're not fueling your body for the optimum amount of work. Snacking is a serious issue that can lead to a long list of health problems, so the least you can do is to stock up on healthy snacks. Choose fresh fruits and veggies, jerky, herbal tea, flavored water, and small amounts of almonds or other healthy nuts. Measure out portions ahead of time instead of eating from a big bag, and always keep track of the calories you eat from snacks.
Your Work/Life Balance
When is the last time you took some quality time off to spend doing something just for yourself or with your family? Solid sales depend on having a substantial back catalog, but you can't build it all in one year. Writing for endless hours without taking time off is the best way to develop burnout, when you won't be able to write anything at all. Make a sensible schedule and start early to avoid killer deadlines. Include family and fun time in your schedule, and take entire days off, not just a few hours after you finish a writing session.
Keep the Faith and May the Force be with You!