Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Past

 Nostalgia may be a plague to history (or perhaps more pertinently, to historians?) ... but seems essential for writers like Conrad, Ford, Steinbeck, Trollope ... the past must be real enough to be important if you're going to write about it. Otherwise you're limited to reporting on the vagaries of a present moment.


Since "SITTING IS THE NEW SMOKING" ... don't sit. Get a stand up desk or use a bureau. And as for fast walking and other exercise: the first twenty minutes are the most important; thus, two twenty minute walks -- or even three! -- will do the most for your metabolism. Walking does help restore the brain to its usual potential for writing, but ... it's even more effective to "read something fun" -- a magazine, a comic book, the novel you're reading, Scientific American, Allure -- whatever works for you as an amusement. Simenon works well for some. Others like browsing through cookbooks. So perhaps combining these two will give the maximum boost: 20 minutes of reading for fun, followed by 20 minutes of fast-walking arm-waving moderate exercise in the great outdoors. Or try 10 and 10 -- whatever works for your deadline. It's perhaps worth noting that though "healthiness" may be your aim, a good many of the world's most prolific and acclaimed writers have found that coffee, nicotine and a mild hangover were essential to their writing process -- even more so when the deadline looms. Remember this: "The deadline IS the deadline" -- it's not three days before the deadline (when panic may well set in), perhaps because "the prospect of being hanged wonderfully focuses the mind." Sometimes, however, the deadline's anxiety may prevent setting pen to paper; if this happens, try copying by hand with a pencil for 10 minutes from a book; preferably a book with some literary value.  And remember this: some editors are like dogs: Never Satisfied with the smell of Anything until they've pissed on it a few times."