Could Writing Be Killing You?

“I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.”  Marilyn Monroe

Last week, I wrote about good manners were killing good writing. This week I’d like to look at the fact that our shared profession/passion is killing us! I know that sounds draconian, but unfortunately it’s true.

Each year I try to find an area to improve myself and this year has been devoted to taking my life back. After several difficult years, I felt like I had lost myself to the sorrow, frustration, and the sheer overwhelming enormity of daily trials. I lost my way in remembering how lovely my life truly is. So this was it. This was my year.

I knew I was in trouble when I couldn’t stand to look at myself in the mirror. Einstein didn’t need to tell me that my coping drug of choice had been food. The results were there in graphic detail. I also found my feet swelling. I was tired most of the time and the blues were never far away. All of my academia told me that the core of my bloated self was a feeling of loss of control. What could I do to get it back?

I’d start with the most visible sign- my body. I have lost 37.2lbs. I celebrate that, but more importantly, I’ve learned a few startling facts along the way.

Did you know: 1.The average person sits for 9 hours a day.

2.This is detrimental even if you exercise consistently.

3.Women who sit for more than 6 hours a day have a 37% higher risk for early death than those who sit less. (Regardless of how often they exercise.)

4.Getting cozy in the chair causes the electrical activity in your legs to drop dramatically.

5.Calorie burn drops to one per minute.

6.Enzymes that help dissolve fat drops 90%.

7.After 2hrs. good cholesterol drops 20%, insulin resistance drops 24% and risk of diabetes rises.

8.Lean people sit, on average, 150 minutes less than obese people. This adds up to an extra 350 calories burned in a day.


Ok. That was shocking to me. I had no idea what I was doing to my body or my psyche. (There have been several studies linking depression to inactivity.) I was also shocked by the average number of hours spent in a chair. I equated being tired at the end of the day with being active….uhhhh, no.

After getting over another wave of depression because I read those (#$*&#) facts, I got started. I have to tell you that I hate exercising- always have, always will. I started with subtle, easy to manage changes. For instance, when I’m at the computer, I now set an alarm every hour. When it dings, I get up and do stretching exercises, drink a glass of water and try to walk around for a few minutes. I fold a load of laundry, make my bed etc. A side benefit is I’m far more productive around the house as well. If you are at work, try seeing what you can do in 5 minutes.

My whole life has been spent figuring out ways to be more efficient. I’ve had to unlearn that. Instead of placing a pile of stuff at the bottom of the stairs and making the jaunt up once a day, I now walk up anytime I have an item. I make multiple trips from the car to the kitchen with grocery bags instead of pretending I’m a pack mule and taking everything at once. I wear a pedometer and make sure I get in 12,000 steps a day. (Don’t faint, it’s easier than it sounds.)

I’ve learned that while I’m in the chair mulling over plot points, I can be active. My favorite movement is called chair lifts- place your hands down on the seat and lift your butt off the chair. Do 3 sets of 10 or so to build upper body strength and figure out what your hero should be doing! I also do navel squeezes which consists of lifting your feet off the floor about 2 inches and contract your navel toward your spine. Again with the sets and reps- this will help tone your abs and quads. I actually worked out a problem of how my characters would react while on a boat and an earthquake happens directly beneath them doing this.

Is this rocket science? No. Will it improve the quality of your life? Absolutely. Exercising my control over my body and life has made a huge impact. (Pun totally intended!) Take baby steps toward a happier and healthier you.


29 Responses to Could Writing Be Killing You?

  1. Carly Carson says:

    Lots of great points. I also suggest getting out and taking a walk around the block. Studies have proven this helps your brain work better, so it’s a win-win. Also, always park at the far end of the parking lot.


  2. I’m always a big advocate about parking away from your destination- You’d be surprised how many more steps that adds up to!!! Just a word of caution, always always be aware of your safety. Glad you stopped by today.


  3. Gerri Bowen says:

    Loved the exercises while in the char. Thank you. 🙂


  4. Like I said, I really dislike exercise. I’m to the point where I do it a few times a week, but it definitely doesn’t come naturally! If I disguise it as “break” times, I find I move with a much happier heart. Ha!


  5. Diane Holmes says:

    Lovely article. It’s so easy to “lose yourself to sheer overwhelming enormity of daily trials.” You sound great now and you’re setting a pretty darn good example. 😉


  6. sometimes those moments in life can swamp you before you even know you’re in trouble. I don’t know how good an example I’m being, but I knew I had to do something to feel like I had more control over this old world. Thanks for stopping in, glad to see you here. 🙂


  7. You nailed it, Stacey, as you always do. I get up every 45 minutes, the dogs make me ‘run the stairs’ four-five times a day, but I make myself move around. Some gentle calisthenics in the morning and afternoon keep things limber and flexible, or as best they can.

    Good stuff. And we all need to remember them!


  8. Sigh- it’s a constant battle. I’m so glad you are taking extra steps to improve your health and well being! Dogs are an excellent motivator to get up and move. 🙂


  9. Excellent post and great ideas. Thanks so much for letting me know I’m not swelling up all alone!! 🙂


  10. You are never alone!! Unfortunately, this affects all of us. The good news is that the remedy is really quite easy- that first darn step is ALWAYS the hardest.


  11. Nancy Kay Bowden says:

    Great post, Stacey. I hate exercise and have to disguise it. I built myself a treadmill “desK”–a platform for my laptop–and the laptop screen blocks the information panel–I can’t see how far I walk while I’m writing or revising. Not surprising, first drafting gets me farther than revision. Funny when your legs hurt from writing too long!

    Nice suggestion about exercises at the desk but build up on the lifts so you don’t hurt your precious wrists.


  12. I remember when you were telling me about this writing/exercising desk! My hat is off to you because that is so creative. I like to zone out to music when I’m on the elliptical…just have to be careful that I’m only singing along in my head!!!


  13. Meb Bryant says:

    Amen, sister! I’m with you.


  14. Why is it that something so easy and logical is so DARN hard sometimes?


  15. Funny that I have been thinking this very thing lately. I’m so stressed worrying about sales and somehow I have to let that go and find the joy in writing again. What was that saying…build it and they will come.


  16. Oh Sylvia- I feel your pain. I’ve completely lost the joy in writing and this was also a thing that brought me to looking at my life, health and body. I can’t lie to you and say that it has fixed all my writing woes, but it has put me back on the path to creativity. I’ve done several things that make my soul happy this summer and am thinking about my stories once again. I’m hoping to get back to the keyboard with them soon.


  17. Such an encouraging post, Stacey. Solid ideas about how to get back on track and you’ve shared your personal success. “Good on you” as the Irish say.

    You might want to ck out my friend Ginger Calem’s blog Writer’s Butt Wednesday. She’s so into not letting some we all love — writing — turn us into fat, depressed, couch potatoes.

    Ginger and dh run a CrossFit gym and Ginger is a competive women’s weight lifter. I’m not that dedicated YET, but she’s gotten me off carbs and drinking gallons of water! Plus she constantly offers recipes and great carb-free dinner ideas.

    Now I have your tips to spur me further along.Thanks timely post.


  18. I truly hope I can help you get up out of the chair. It sounds like your friend is an expert in this arena so I will most DEFINITELY check out her blog…..I want to be like her when I grow up!!


  19. Great ideas. Thanks for the post.


  20. You are so welcome- hope you can use some of the ideas!


  21. jbrayweber says:

    Great post, Stacey!
    If only my mind had a stenographer to catalog all the brilliant story lines, ideas, and dialogue I think of when I not sitting. 🙂


  22. Amen! It never fails that when you have the most brilliant ideas, you are never where you can write them down. Unfortunately for me, that means they float away into the nether world of my brain cells- never to be seen again!!!


  23. Ruth says:

    Oh Stacey we seem to be in the same floating raft. I recently received a diagnosis that I didn’t like and had to make a few life altering changes. One, excercise, but in small amounts, reduced the stress in my life get my blood pressure under control ( it can cause a lot of scary things to go wrong) and change my diet- no salt- I went salt free for 2 weeks and now I can eat 1000grams a day, which isn’t a lot. Now instead of counting calories- I count sodium grams and have to eat fresh. ( not that I haven’t cheated a time or two when out at a restrurant) We need to form a new support group- writers for “a healthy life” or something. Hope to see you soon


  24. I think that’s a terrific idea!
    I’m so sorry to hear about your health challenges. Nothing is so precious as our health and we always seem to take it for granted until it slaps us upside the head. Have you tried all of the Mrs. Dash’s seasonings? They are really good and sodium free. I also use Morton’s Lite salt= half the sodium!


  25. Ruth says:

    I think I have every variety of Mrs. Dash there is and I’m looking for the best place to buy fresh vegtables and a large variety. I have been eating a lot of salads lately and been very creative when cooking.


  26. Cara Bristol says:

    I wear a pedometer and make sure that I do 10,000 steps every day, which is a bout 4.25 miles. About half of that I get just moving around the house; the other half comes from my daily walk. Sitting is detrimental to one’s health and writers do a lot of sitting.


  27. Absolutely! That’s why I said not to faint when I gave how many steps are my goal- ti’s much easier to get to than most people think. Sitting is so detrimental- make time to move throughout the day and you’ll feel so much better! Thanks for stopping by today.


  28. Thanks for sharing your story, Stacey! I have found it so important to strive for a balance in my life of mind, body, and soul. Important to do that so we can feel good and be happy – something that makes our writing so much better! Your suggestions are very helpful!


  29. You are so welcome, Lana! I have found over the last 4 years of learning about this industry…and learning how to write… that there’s so much more we need to pay attention to besides the words on the page to be a successful writer. It is a constant struggle between real life and the writing life, one I’m still struggling with on most days.
    Thanks for stopping by! I wish you a good week of writing!!


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