Tags: Annette Fix, becoming sedentary, creative writing, follow your passion, gaining weight, it's never too late, Jack LaLane dies at 96, let our muse out to play, make exercise a priority, practice your craft, strengthen your writing skills, use it or lose it
“The only way you can hurt the body is not use it. Inactivity is the killer and, remember, it’s never too late.”
Jack LaLane, an American fitness guru, died Sunday afternoon at 96 years old and left behind a legacy, motivating millions of people since his first gym in 1936. This is a man who lived and loved his passion for health and fitness for more than 75 years.
So, how does his life relate to writing? I’m glad you asked. Because Jack LaLane’s “use it or lose it” and “it’s never too late” philosophies can be directly applied to your life as a writer.
Let me count the ways:
1. If you take care of your wellness by keeping an active lifestyle…
You live longer, with a better quality of life, and you can write more! This is something that has hit close to home recently. As I write this blog post, I can feel my back brace hugging my squishy muffin top. But that feeling, as restrictive and uncomfortable as it is, sure beats being flat on my back for a week, alternating between screaming like a wounded animal with every passing spasm and lying nearly comatose from a tablet cocktail of Motrin, Flexeril, Percocet, and Zanax. How did I end up like this? One word: atrophy.
Over the last ten years that I’ve been writing, my activity level has dropped considerably and I’ve become sedentary—hour-after-hour, day-after-day, I sit at the computer. At one point, I put on a pedometer, just to see how much I moved in a day. I discovered that on some days I walk less than 200 steps. What has that done to me? My weight has increased by 30 lbs. and my muscles have lost tone, strength, and flexibility. How did I hurt my back? I spent six hours in the mall doing Christmas returns. How embarrassing is that?! I wish I could say: While cycling during the eighty-seventh mile of a triathlon, my wheel came off my bike and I crashed into a tree. That would be a much better reason to be in a back brace.
Jack was right: Use it or lose it. I don’t have to train for a triathlon, but I do need to make exercise a priority and a regular part of my daily routine, not use it as a reward when I get my computer work done. Because it’s never done. There will always be another chapter/article/interview/manuscript to write/edit/publish/promote.
2. If you keep your mind sharp…
You can continue to write until you take your last breath. Ok, so obviously the body needs exercise, but so does the brain. While spending time in South Florida, a retirement landscape of aluminum walkers, I had the opportunity to people-watch in a completely different demographic than the helicopter-mom/Hummer3 set in The OC beach suburbia in California. And, after observing the locals, I can’t decide which is more scary: having a sharp mind trapped in a decaying, shrinky-dink body, or having an atrophied raisin-brain in an old, but functional body.
The thought of being in either condition in my golden years scares the crap outta me. I mean, I’ve had my share of raisin-brain days lately, but I think that’s because I’ve stopped doing something I’ve done every year for the last 20+ years: take classes to learn something new. I’ve always been an education and information junkie and in addition to countless craft-of-writing classes, I’ve taken classes to learn Photoshop, Tai Chi, kickboxing, archery, picture framing, knitting, bellydancing, henna tattooing, beading, tole painting, stand-up comedy, improv, American Sign Language, Italian, Zumba, and djembe drumming. Mental deterioration happens the same way muscles become atrophied.
Jack was right: Use it or lose it. I think it’s all part of finding balance in life—making time to learn something new, different, interesting. I used to sit down with a highlighter as soon as the community education brochure came in the mail and mark all the classes I wanted to take. It’s not a luxury, for long-term mental health, it’s necessary.
3. If you let your muse out to play…
She will continue to create. But if you neglect her, your creativity will weaken just as significantly as any other muscle. Sadly, this I know. I’m embarrassed to tell you how long it has taken me to write this blog post. If you guessed more than an hour, keep guessing (and multiply that hour by four). I’ve never been a fast writer. My internal editor edits and re-edits every sentence before moving on to the next. But when I was working on The Break-Up Diet: A Memoir, I’d get into “The Zone”—that place where my husband kisses my forehead in the morning and goes off to work, then returns later to find me unshowered, still in pjs, still writing, and I say, “Oh, you came home for lunch?” and he replies, “It’s dinnertime.” It’s been years since I’ve exercised my creative muscles (writing articles and interviews, editing and teaching don’t count to my muse).
Jack was right: Use it or lose it. The worst thing a writer can lose is her creative flow. It circles back to finding balance again. Move. Learn. Create. All three are equally important and need equal attention.
When it comes down to it, Jack LaLane was right. It’s never too late to take care of your body, mind, and soul. He has proven that if you take care of yourself and pursue your passion—both lead to a long and happy life.
Tags: accomplishments, create a vision board, depression, goodbye 2010, happiness, hello 2011, new year's plans, new year's resolutions, personal theme, productivity, set goals, to-do lists
It’s the end of 2010, and if you’re like me, you find yourself looking back over the year and evaluating your productivity. If I were to give myself a grade, I’d say C- for actual work accomplished.
I’m results oriented, so although I had detailed to-do lists longer than my legs set end-to-end, I don’t give myself any points for good intentions.
But I did manage to do a few things:
- Donated copies of my book to libraries
- Mentored a new Toastmasters member
- Spoke on an online marketing panel at a regional writer’s organization
- Interviewed by authors for two book projects (writing, single parenting)
- Quoted in Dan Poynter’s most recent marketing book
- Wrote freelance interviews and articles
- Performed spoken word
- Freelance edited articles & book manuscripts
- Taught an in-person memoir class and online agent workshop
- Hired to create two blogsites
- Polished a family-feature script for Lifetime
- Hosted/spoke at a social networking business seminar
Not much accomplished in 365 days. Yes, I’m pretty hard on myself, but I know how much time I had to work with—completely unencumbered by children, a traditional job, or domestic responsibilities (beyond two active dogs and a mellow, supportive spouse), so I can’t use those as excuses.
On a personal level, my accomplishments were even more sparse: I took djembe drum lessons, and joined/participated in book club, drum circle, and crafty-girl Meet-Up groups. Not much, especially for someone who has been a joiner and an education and information junkie for years.
I’m sure I’m not alone. With the economy causing people to lose their jobs and their homes, happiness is at a premium for everyone who is struggling. But now, it’s time to kiss 2010 goodbye and plan for a bright and productive 2011. A fresh start, diving head-first into a New Year brimming with possibilities and plans, optimism and opportunities.
My vision board for 2011. Visualize it and make it happen. That’s my plan. Care to join me?
Take some time on New Year’s Day or on Sunday to map-out what you want in your life for 2011. I turned my vision board into wallpaper for my laptop, so I see it everyday.
My personal theme for 2011: Balance.
I want it. I need it.
Dear Readers, What is your theme for the New Year? Have you created (or will you create) a vision board or list of resolutions to guide and inspire you toward your goals?
Tags: accomplishments, award contests, bestseller, Book Expo America, book option, book signing, ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards, guest blogging, mashable, media training, Miami Book Fair, National Speaker's Association, online workshops, ProSpeak program, publishing deal, Toastmasters, TV pilot, twitter, West Hollywood Book Fair, WOW! WomenOnWriting, Writer's Digest Self-Published Book Awards
For the last week or so, I’ve anxiously anticipated the arrival of 2010. I wanted to leave 2009 far behind. It felt like a wasted year without anything noteworthy to show for those 365 days. Why? I didn’t feel like I accomplished anything I wanted to do. My book, The Break-Up Diet: A Memoir, didn’t become a bestseller and I didn’t get a publishing deal for my next book—the one I still haven’t written yet. So, why wouldn’t I be in a hurry to chalk it up as a loss and move on?
Then I read a tweet on Twitter, posted by one of my fellow writer tweeps who mentioned the importance of taking stock of the year’s accomplishments to help boost your sense of career (or creative) achievement. That got me thinking. Well, I did get a couple nods in two award contests I entered. My book premise did catch the eye of a television producer… Hmmm…lemme see what else I could add to my accomplishments list. So, I pulled up my handy-dandy Google calendar (love love love that thing). Starting in January, I checked each month to see what I did throughout 2009.
And HOLY A.D.D., Calendar Man! I did more than I thought!
My 2009 Accomplishment List:
Worked as Senior Editor for WOW! WomenOnWriting.com, sold partner share in company
Joined Toastmasters, completed Competent Communicator Manual in six months
Completed National Speaker’s Association ProSpeak program
Hired to speak at national writing conference, regional writing organization, and local writing groups
Taught in-person and online workshops
Wrote an ebook “The Hungry Writer’s Guide to Tracking & Capturing a Literary Agent”
Invited to blurb an author’s book
Did bookstore readings and book signings
Took my book on a month-long blog tour
Was profiled in regional writing organization newsletter
Guest blogged and interviewed authors on my blog
Offered a TV series option for my book
Published articles on WOW! and in NSA newsletter
Invited to do radio interview on Playboy radio (chickened out)
Hired to do freelance manuscript analyses
Attended Book Expo America in NYC, met my agent face-to-face
Named one of the “70 Nonfiction Authors to Follow on Twitter” by Mashable
Guest appearance on a publishing industry talk radio show
Exhibited at West Hollywood Book Fair
Attended Miami Book Fair
Made finalist in Foreword Magazine’s 2009 Book of the Year Awards
Received honorable mention in life stories category of Writer’s Digest’s Self-Published Book Awards
Joined a memoir critique group
Guest appearance on West Hollywood cable TV talk show
Took an online workshop about how to write for the Trues
Started two new writing projects: a TV pilot and new memoir
Completed Zumba Instructor Training workshop
Took a week-long vacation to Cancun and a week-long trip to Florida (to scout for a new home)
Whew. It think that’s it. What did I learn from this exercise? Note to self: Enjoy the journey. Embrace the process. Do a little each day and by the end of the year, you’ll have accomplished more than you ever thought you could.
Ok, dear readers, I challenge you to make your own list. Tell me, did you meet your 2009 goals or exceed them? Or, like me, did you just go with the flow, follow your interests, stay open to opportunities, and see what happens?