Three Non-Writing Habits for Writers

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Writers know about ideal writing habits. They involve actually writing, reading broadly, journaling, and actually writing a bit more. What lifestyle elements tangentially support good writing, though? Your writing comes from your life, so you shouldn’t be too surprised how intimately the two are connected. The habits you form away from the desk can dramatically improve your focus, production, and content.

Go for Walks

Many of history’s best writers pieced together their novels and plots during long, quiet walks. There is as much a romantic writerly reason to stretch your legs in an effort to unwind your thoughts as there is a scientific one. People literally think differently when they’re in motion.

The brain handles creative challenges differently when it’s preoccupied with motor functions, and the mild physical exertion simultaneously relieves stress. That potent mix of benefits makes ideal brainstorming and puzzle solving conditions. Add to that the freedom of fresh air, new sights, and an escape from the desk. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain, so when the words refuse to join a sentence, and you’ve written yourself into a corner, take thirty minutes to stop writing and start walking.

Try Mindfulness

Mindfulness does not equal meditation. While both practices have unique benefits, mindfulness is about literally living in the moment and becoming fully cognizant. A stunning number of creative individuals wrestle with mental health issues, and mindfulness is not only a great tool for psychological treatment but also for writing.

If you ever catch yourself staring in blank frustration at a scene that just doesn’t work, it may be time for a step back. Mindfulness is all about accepting what you feel, analyzing it, accepting it, and continuing forward. It may sound weird, but it works, even when you use it for imaginary characters. This trick lets you sink into a character’s skin unlike any other method I’ve personally tried.

Mindfulness helps develop your voice along with the depth of your writing. You will put a lot of yourself in your fiction. It’s inevitable. When you work to better understand yourself, you can bring that awareness to your writing. Why does your character self-sabotage? Is there a link between your villain’s love and hate?

Eat Green Things (And Red, and Purple, and…)

You don’t need to become a nutritionist overnight – or ever – to be a great writer. But, if you can, you should try eating a salad and/or a heaping serving of broccoli once a day. Why? Frankly, there are a lot of physical benefits, and if you didn’t know, your creativity depends on a very physical part of your body: your brain. Your brain, in turn, depends on your gut. More and more studies show a pretty clear link between gut health and improved mental functions. So, if you’re struggling to focus, your creative well has run dry, or you just want to give your next WIP every possible advantage, eat that salad.

What non-writing habits do you recommend for writers? What habit broke your writer’s block, improved your cognitive functions, or just made work days better?

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