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Argh. This diet is killing me. I made one of those classic mistakes. I complained to my Doctor. So he made things worse. I said I was tired and falling asleep onto my keyboard. Now, in part I was wondering if the black dog might be physiological…
Did he say: “Write a more interesting book” or “Go fishing” or “go diving, at least you’ll drown happy” or even ‘get more sleep’? Noooo! Instead he made me even more tired, giving me anemia. Well, taking away some of the precious, rare blood in my caffeine stream.
And did he come back with some wondrous cure or answer… (because there is nothing worse than not knowing)? No. Instead he said that basically everything was Okay (which was nice, but not congruent with the way I was feeling). But he was going to put me on this 5:2 diet to drop my cholesterol levels and possibly improve my insulin sensitivity. Not particularly to lose weight – like most of us, I could stand to lose a pound or two of useless fat, mostly between my ears, or, failing that, off my middle.
Now this diet involves semi-fasting (1/4 of your normal calorie input, no carbs) two non-consecutive days out of seven. It wasn’t supposed to have a major weight effect. It was supposed to make me feel better, sharper, more inclined to write scintillating prose (well somewhat more capable of not writing boring stuff. That’s a more plausible target) oh, and to make me live longer.
I can report I’ve shed about 5 pounds in two and half weeks, and indeed, although living longer seems hard to quantify at this stage, I’ve lived through it and yes, the days have felt much longer, at least the semi-fasting ones.
Unless being a little giddy and having headaches is the sudden onset of mental acuity I can’t say that effect has been noticeable. I daresay being a little lighter will make feel less hippo and more zippo in time.
But seriously, it’s tough to write through, particularly on the starving days, when really all I want to is sleep, if I am to be denied the opportunity to eat a nice big pile of cream-cakes. I have been getting some writing done despite. It’s kind of escapism, even if I am sure what sort of quality this results in. It may make my writing more waspish and me to include less food description than usual. This may even be a good thing.
Anyway, what I thought I’d write about today was diet, because on starving days (today) I tend to get a little obsessive about it. Fortunately, this is a short term program so I will hopefully stop being so concerned that my stomach may crawl up my throat, find thin picking in my beard and go foraging for the cat, or at least the cat-food (which could be ugly. She’s possessive about her food). It also seemed of limited direct relationship other people’s writing… but what isn’t, is the impact of your body and mind’s well-being on your writing ability.
And that I definitely find worth discussing, if not prescribing about. Look, I know there are writers who have continued with sometimes great output despite their health and other problems. I am certainly not one of them! However, the reality is that a need exists often enough to try and produce despite whatever the world is throwing at you. If you don’t work, you don’t get paid, and you lose audiences. I don’t find it easy, but the few things I have found work for me…
Coffee. Then there is tea. Chocolate is good too… just not when I’m on this fast.
Jokes aside, THIS is when a work-pattern, and a work space, defined, ready and prepared, really work for me. Also, while starting is vital, I’ve found one of my most powerful tools for starting… is stopping. Or, rather stopping in the right place, so I can actually see some of the run-on from that point, when I start again. I then find I tend to work in my head past that point.
The other thing that I found is when you can’t work (you’re feeling too rotten, or the world and problems are on top of you) don’t try to write – but do research. Sooner or later you will use it.
Your mileage may vary but I find music and brief bits of exercise – often offered as bribes to myself – also help me get past the focus on “I feel rotten/worried/starved etc.
So what works for you? Besides chocolate, that is.