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Pen IN Hand
Writers' Energy
By Peggy Bechko
December, 2006, 15:20

We're writers. We sit. That's bad.

Unfortunately we need to sit. We type a lot; we research a lot; we think a lot. Some things we can do in motion, but others require we sit. So we do.

During this sitting, our brains are active. We need energy to keep ourselves thinking and typing and all that stuff. We don't have time for the drowsies, sluggish thought, or to fall asleep with our noses in the keyboard. 

Now you might be thinking, "Caffeine! That's the answer. Lots and lots of caffeine!"

Hmmm. Well maybe sometimes when that deadline looms and there's no escape. However, in the long run, that stuff will lead to a crash from which there is no escape. So, what are our options?

Follow these five tips to staying alert.

1. Posture. Think about how you sit at your keyboard. You need to face it squarely, have a chair that supports your back, and sit up straight just like your Mom used to tell you. Now there are variations on sitting up straight. At times, I sit cross-legged on my chair, but my back remains straight. I try not to slouch, and when I catch myself slumping into a slouch, I straighten up. Amazing how one can feel the difference immediately in just doing that.

2. Breathe. You laugh. You say, "I'm alive, I must be breathing." Are you? It's amazing how shallow we breath, or how we hold our breath when concentrating or wrapped up in a project. Take a few moments every once in a while to just stop and take several deep breaths all the way down into your belly.

3. Hydrate. Okay, yeah, you can have your coffee or your caffeinated drink, but remember you need to remain hydrated to remain alert. Coffee won't do that for you. In fact, its dehydrating. So, if you want to drink your coffee, don't forget to keep water or another hydrating beverage close at hand as well.

4. Move. Now we come to motion. This is simple. Get your butt out of that chair! Get up and move around the room. If you have a stairway in the place you write, walk up and down it a couple of times before you get back to work. Do a few simple stretches either in your chair or out of it. If you can, take a quick turn around the block outside.

5. Music. Music can be either very invigorating, very distracting, or both. This one you'll have to figure out for yourself. If you can write with music in the background, more power to you, and please do so. But pay attention when you experiment. Does your productivity increase, or are you too busy humming along with your choice of music? I personally have always kind of liked Mozart at a very low volume on the rare occasion. I prefer music with no distracting lyrics to distract me and a very lively rhythm.

Remember to take care of yourself when you work. With a little self-consideration, you'll discover you can accomplish more than you ever thought possible.
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Author of Doubleday western novels, Harlequin romances, Fictionworks' fantasies (eBook format), Peggy Bechko has also optioned screenplays domestically and abroad, written for an animated series and for variety of other venues. She's working on a new novel and collaborating on a animated series.

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