Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Don't let your Brain get in the Way of your Mind

What writer doesn't want to write more efficiently? This is not about the part of actually writing but getting into the general state of being that enables efficient writing. It is similar to my old posts on inspiration but is geared more towards the physical state of the writer than their mental state. I'm talking about non-caffeine methods of gaining the energy, stamina and clarity of mind necessary for writing.

1. Water

Staying hydrated is a big help. Just plain and simple tap water can do the trick. It helps with fatigue and clears away fog. I think it has to do with blood flow. A well hydrated body keeps the blood moving smoothly instead of like syrup and so oxygen is better delivered to the brain which invigorates the mind.

2. High Energy Music

I use music that is fast and energetic. It is stimulation for my mind. I believe others call this "epic music". I find that high energy music can push through fatigue. It can clear blocks when I am "not feeling it". A few certain songs can also aid focus by acting as white noise and/or creating a rhyme.

3. Food

As Sora from No Game No Life said, "The brain can function as long as it has glucose".
Mixed nuts and granola are my writing snack of choice. Whole grains are good for sustained energy; it think its the combination B-vitamins and fiber that helps produce energy and stabilize blood sugar. Nuts are for protein, oils and stuff. Sugar is also good but in limited amounts to avoid a crash. Dark chocolate with only a little bit of sugar has worked the best for me in that case. For this to work you don't want "snicker bar level" sugar (20 or so grams per bar) but more like "Honey Nut Cheerios level" sugar (9 grams per 3/4 cup) and preferably less. This is not endorsement or warning of either product but more of an example. What you want is just enough to get that zing benefit.

4. Stand up desk (specifically how I created my own)

Standing up is great. I get drowsy if I sit too long. Seriously, ten or twenty minutes of it makes me yawn. I find that standing up enables more fluid movement while I write which then aids my thought process. You don't have to buy anything for this. I didn't. The stuff I found on the market was either too expensive or had some flaw like the keyboard tray bounces or the structure as a whole was unstable. So instead I took a cheap plastic trash bin that I had on hand, flipped it upside down and placed it on top of my desk. If I want to adjust the height then I use a couple big and thick books. For the mouse, I have a cardboard box that is placed next to the trash bin. This set up is sturdy, stable, and easy to remove if I want to sit down for some reason.

5. Activity (martial arts personally)

This is similar to the stand up desk. Motion is great for writing. It helps the blood flow, increases respiration, gets some internal chemicals moving and all of which helps with sending more oxygen to the brain. I do techniques for a couple minutes and I am refreshed.

6. Deep Breaths
From the diagram! Both during acticity and writing itself, breathing deeply increases that all important blood flow. From the diagraph to get the deepest breath until you can't suck in anymore.

When following this advice, one needs to keep them in mind holistically. The stand up desk and activity can be tiring without enough snacks and water, and no amount of high energy music is going to work if the user is sitting all day. The goal is to achieve a "whole is greater than the sum of its parts" effect.

Those are my methods. What do you use to get into a writing mood?



Brian Wilkerson is a independent novelist, freelance book reviewer, and writing advice blogger. He studied at the University of Minnesota and came away with bachelor degrees in English Literature and History (Classical Mediterranean Period concentration).

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