Writing is Not an Aerobic Activity

Writing is not an aerobic activity. And neither is reading. There, I said it. In the time honoured tradition of great chicken-egg questions, I pose the following: did some of us choose sedentary pastimes like reading and writing because we don’t have an athletic bone in our bodies OR are we lacking the said athletic bodies because we chose reading and writing instead of breaking a sweat? I suspect it’s a bit of both.

Which brings me to my point—and I do have one (apologies to Ellen). My lower back has been bugging me for the past couple of days and NaNoWriMo hasn’t even started yet. It got me thinking that in all my preparation for the month I’ve neglected to think about the toll this will take on my body.

Sooooo, as a public service to you and a reminder to me, here are 5 more areas to consider whether we tackle NaNo or not.

EXERCISE

As already mentioned this is not an activity many of us naturally gravitate to so some incentive (perhaps coercion) is required. Humans act for one of two reasons: to seek pleasure or to avoid pain. I just took a 30 minute walk because I knew it would make me and my back feel better. The pain of the backache was greater than the pain of leaving my comfy chair and heading out so I did. Or put another way, the pleasure of righteous bragging about having exercised is greater than the pleasure of sloth.

The decision to go for a walk was made easier because it was a gorgeous, sunny 9 ° Celsius Sunday afternoon. Would I have struck out down our country road if it was -9 with a 30 kilometre wind? Nope.

We’re all well aware of the benefits of walking and other exercise so I’ll skip that part and go straight to the promise. Let’s make a pact to cut the tether from our computer (or La-Z Boy) for a few minutes of exercise and stretching each day. That heart-pumping break will:

  • rejuvenate and re-energize us
  • save us from a long and painful death from a debilitating disease (perhaps I exaggerate)
  • recharge our depleted brains and provide creative solutions to writing dilemmas

EYESTRAIN

When enthralled with a project it’s easy to forget to blink. In the interests of eye health and to prevent CVS (computer vision syndrome) read the following 10 tips for relief. It can be as simple as remembering to blink and take breaks.

In dry climates using sterile eye drops or artificial tears can bring cooling relief to dry, itchy painful eyes.

REPETITIVE STRAIN INJURY (RSI)

It is far easier in my experience to prevent an RSI than it is to treat it. RSI is an injury to the musculoskeletal and nervous systems caused by repetition, awkward positions, heavy lifting, contact stress, and static postures. While it can affect many parts of the body, writers are most likely to suffer from pain, numbness, and weakness in the upper forearm, a condition known as tendonitis. Check here for more information.

When the tendonitis in both my arms was at its worst, I was seeing a physical therapist, massage therapist, and chiropractor; doing exercises; applying ice; resting them and wearing braces. Although it is years later, symptoms are just a breath away. Prolonged typing, driving, even holding a book can and do bring the pain flooding back. You can be sure I will be wearing my braces for the prolonged work of NaNo.

NUTRITION

As much fun as it to think about gorging on chocolate, drowning in caffeinated drinks, and getting blotto on booze, we all know that really isn’t the way to go. Sorry.

This kid will be snacking on fresh veggies not because I’m a goody-two shoes but because I can’t afford to gain anything in November but 50,000 words. I’ve lost 25 pounds so far (pauses to take a bow) and can’t do anything to jeopardize my progress. If this is not an issue in your life, go for it and have a piece of chocolate for me.

ERGONOMICS

The setup of our workstations either helps or hurts our bodies. The older we get, the less forgiving our body when it is being mistreated. Ergonomics is the science of fitting the job to the worker. It plays a role in preventing RSIs and other musculoskeletal injuries. For more information on modifying your workspace to fit your needs check out this document.