Health, Diet, and Writing

I have a personal experience I’d like to share. For the past two years I’ve been studying the art of writing and self-publishing, and I’ve been doing my best to establish writing habits. But I struggled a lot to maintain the routines I set up. Sometimes I would just not have the energy, or I’d experience what I thought was burnout. Sometimes I’d go for whole weeks before being able to re-apply myself to my established schedule. This frustrated the heck out of me, as I really wanted to be more productive, but found it incredibly difficult. How could I finish all the books I wanted to write if I couldn’t even get myself out of bed early enough to write? I had all these plans, but couldn’t find ways to stick to them. Needless to say, I was frustrated.  I thought maybe I was just inherently lazy.

Even then, I managed to get about 3 books written over the course of a year and a half. I still see that as a major accomplishment. But then something happened that changed a lot of things.

In mid-April, I was admitted to the hospital for an infected abscess that required surgery to drain. While there, they discovered that I had Type 2 Diabetes. This was likely the reason for the abscess in the first place. They immediately put me on insulin and I was in the hospital for a number of days to get that under control. I’ve since been on insulin and I’ve been forced to clean up my diet. Having the diagnosis actually helped me eat better in a way that I had been unable to before (I was excessively overweight). It gave me a kind of wall to lean on that prevented me from eating unhealthily. Now I eat nothing but vegetables, legumes, some fruits, and the occasional meat or cheese. No grains. No sugars.

It wasn’t long after I returned home that I began to notice two things. First, once I’d had enough time to heal, I found myself needing less and less sleep. Before I would go to bed as early as 7 or 8 just so I could not feel miserable when I’d get up 10-11 hours later. But now when I try to go to bed at 8, you will find me up at 4am, at no fault of the alarm clock.

The second thing I noticed was that I was suddenly having more success with my work schedules. I almost didn’t notice it at first, but once I’d been sticking to the same very productive schedule for a few weeks, I realized that it was becoming easier for me. Habits were forming. Recently I finished a book that I started only four weeks earlier, something that’s never happened to me before. I’m so excited! I’m writing an average of 3K words per day (4,500 on weekends), 6 days a week, in addition to a full-time job. And I’ve never been less burnt-out!

My point is this, I attribute all of this success to my change in diet. I no longer suffer from brain fogs, I’ve lost 40 pounds and still dropping, and I actually feel like exercising. While it wasn’t pleasant to be admitted to the hospital and get that diagnosis, I think it may have been the best thing to ever happen to me. So I encourage everyone to not forget diet in the consideration of your writing life. It’s important, way more important than I ever thought.

Good luck in your writing!

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