Let’s talk food. Because until someone invents a pill I can take three times a day and consider myself “fed,” every body’s got to eat. (See what I did there?)
I neglect my body. My brain powers my fingers, and writing has been my priority for most of my life. It turns out–and this will shock some of you–one’s physical health impacts one’s mental acuity to varying degrees.
Seriously. It’s pretty annoying.
I like to think that at my most slothful, I can still string words together in a coherent fashion. But there was a stretch last summer when the kiddo was into her stroller, and I was taking runs every day. Short runs. A mile, maybe two, and taking it easy. But my word count? Increased. It didn’t shoot up into the thousands upon thousands, or anything. But over the weeks I ran daily, or near-daily (which is not recommended, but when you have a stroller-hater who suddenly shows a willingness to be strolled, you capitalize the fuck out of that shit), my word count consistently grew.
And suddenly an outlier day was four, five thousand words. Which is pretty astronomical for someone with a day job and a toddler. Normal days were consistently 1500-2000 words, without trying. And maintaining. Until I broke my toe, which I can see on my word counts as a steady dip back down to triple digit numbers.
I don’t have hard word count deadlines. I write a lot. I write in all the spare moments I’ve got, unless Sherlock’s got new episodes, or Bujold has a new book out. I write in a lot of moments my kid wouldn’t necessarily consider “spare,” too, like when I’ve said over and over again that yeah, I’ll play ball with you in just a second, really, I’m almost done. I don’t procrastinate about writing fiction and I don’t get distracted. I know that makes me the biggest dick in scribbler square, but those are not issues that I have. I’ve been doing this since I was thirteen, almost every day, and I consider it very much the thing that has gotten me this far. It’s never been a hobby. And the actual writing has never been a burden. (Though reconciling the awesome fucking story I’m holding in my head with the hot pile of steaming shit I’ve managed to vomit onto the screen–yeah, that’s a big pain in the ass. Still.)
The kid has gone back on stroller-strike, so these days I garden, or run in circles in the back yard, or walk around staring at the ground, or juggle. All of those things get the characters chattering in my head. I’d like to get there with food, as well. I’d like to clear my system of some of the more irritating things I eat (dairy; my particular body hates dairy, but my taste buds are in some disagreement). It’d be fascinating to see if eating differently increases output, or efficiency.
Then again, I wrote Will Derrie seriously for the first time when I was rolled under an undiagnosed gluten coma going on three years, and the scenes I wrote then triggered an entire cascade of story that leads me to right this very second, in another window, where Will’s about to convince the boyfriends to propose to each other. But that story is still not ready to see the light of day, and this one? Played itself out in my imagination as I dug sticker weeds out of the lawn with a funny little two-toothed tool. So did the next story. And the one after that. They’re living, fully-formed, in my head. Right now.
I don’t know if it’s blood flow, or some kind of energy thing in my chakras, or the meditative value of one’s body doing something that takes just enough brain power to hum along, letting other parts of the brain play. (Collating. I wrote novels in my head while spending hours and hours collating in high school. I still associate collating with a creative high.) But whatever it is, it’s worth remembering: the body feeds the brain. Not the other way around.