Sitting is supposedly the new smoking. In other words, the more you sit, the greater your health is at risk. For a writer, this is bad news indeed.
But there is good news! To counteract the evil effects of prolonged sitting, you don’t need to sprint the low hurdles at four-minute-mile pace. All you need to do is GET UP. Stand, stretch, stomp your feet, play your favorite Pointer Sisters tune and move around even a little.
GET UP, every thirty minutes or so. That won’t guarantee vibrant health until age 100, but it will light a candle against the darkness of heart disease, stroke, obesity, chronic lower back pain, and all those other best friends of the Undertoad.
Well, says I, then I don’t have a problem, because I’m always hopping up and down—let this cat in and that dog out. Top up my tea cup, and have an inspirational bite of Ghiradelli dark chocolate. I’m pretty active in a sedentary way, says I.
Am I BSing myself about this?
What’s needed here is good information. My health is a significant limiting factor on a lot of the fun I intend to have in coming years. It’s hard to tromp around Scotland if my back is in bad shape, hard to even write a steamy hot scene if sitting has become uncomfortable. I really, really, really need every ounce of health I can beg, borrow, or maintain.
So I bought a $5.00 mechanical timer, plopped it down among the cats, sticky notes, books and incense holders on my writing table, and set it to 30 minutes.
Well, drat. I don’t get up as much as I thought I did. When I’m cooking on a scene, I’m happy to sit transfixed before the computer for well over an hour. When I’m in the writing zone, two hours is nothing…
This is a problem—with a $5.00 solution. So often in my life, though, I overlook this critical step: What is the magnitude of the problem I’m facing? Is it a big problem, a little problem, a different problem than I thought I had? Is it a problem at all?
The last thing we want to do when we’re hit with the anxiety of a difficult situation is DO NOTHING to solve the problem, but instead, figure out what we need to know about it first. And yet, that simple, take-a-deep-breath, resistance to tearing off in the direction of a solution can spare us a LOT of misery and wasted resources.
I battle the same impulse when I’m writing. As soon as I have characters in my head, I want to write the story—even if I don’t know what the story is. The hardest part about writing for me, is turning the computer OFF, and giving the story space and time to develop.
Can you think of a time when you resisted the impulse to charge ahead, and instead gave yourself permission to stop and consider, gather a few facts, marshal your resources, and THEN decide what direction to charge in? Maybe you counseled a kid or a co-worker to give a situation time, or you withheld judgment and were later glad you did?
We’re celebrating the release of The MacGregor’s Lady later this week, so to one commenter (do NOT hesitate to comment), I’ll give an iPad with iBookstore gift card and trimmings or the e-reader of your choice.