Write… no excuses

With only 26 letters in the English alphabet, why are there days when we just can’t get the words out?

The poet, Mary Oliver, says: “The voice is working in us all the time. You have to be there when you have promised.”

The work of a writer requires true dedication to the art and craft of what we do. That sense of commitment is what sustains us when we are battling deadlines or slogging through long manuscripts. We’re in this for the long haul and it can get tiresome.

What to do?
1. First, honor your commitment. One way or another you’ve got to get the words out, meet the deadline, and turn in good work.

2. Change your focus. When I recently felt I could not edit a manuscript for one more minute, I switched to indexing which felt like play-time. It was so easy to handle a clerical task just for a while. And the sense of accomplishment made it easier to drag myself back to page 183, knowing I was at least half-way done with the editing.

3. Trick yourself. Use a timer, break your task into small manageable goals, or raid the candy jar. Just break the cycle for a minute or two and get back to work.

4. Exercise. WebMD notes that exercise is the best remedy for fatigue.
“It’s now been shown in many studies that once you actually start moving around — even just getting up off the couch and walking around the room — the more you will want to move, and, ultimately, the more energy you will feel,” says Robert E. Thayer, PhD, a psychology professor at California State University, Long Beach, and author of the book Calm Energy: How People Regulate Mood With Food.

bikeIn a study published in the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics in 2008, University of Georgia researchers found that inactive folks who normally complained of fatigue could increase energy by 20% while decreasing fatigue by as much as 65% by simply participating in regular, low-intensity exercise.

Thayer says that many Americans, particularly “achievement-oriented Type A people” have “tense energy” — an effective state that allows you to get lots of work done, but that can quickly move into tense-tiredness, a negative state often associated with depression.

On the other hand, what he calls “calm energy” is a combination of a high physical and mental energy level, paired with low physical tension. It is this state, he says, that offers more long-lasting energy. And, he says, it can be achieved with the right kind of exercise.

“What summarizes the relationship best is moderate exercise — like a 10- or 15-minute walk — has the primary effect of increased energy, while very intense exercise — like working out at the gym, 45 minutes of treadmill — has the primary effect of at least temporarily reducing energy, because you come away tired,” he says.

BIO: Helen Gallagher blogs at Freelance-Zone.com to share her thoughts on small business and technology. She writes and speaks on publishing. Her blogs and books are accessible through www.releaseyourwriting.com. Helen is a member of ASJA, Small Publishers Artists & Writers Network, and several great Chicago-area writing groups.