Writing.

1st Novel Baby Weight: 4 Ways to Avoid “Writer’s Ass”

Attention fellow writers!

I’ve got a little secret I’m going to let you in on, something most of the books on writing failed to tell you. Something you may or may not experience, depending on your metabolism and your ability to stay out of the fridge during a 2a.m. writing spree.  You ready?…hmm…how do I put this delicately? *pondering, fingernails drumming against the keys*  Upon completing your first novel, you will achieve confidence, a great deal of pride…

and a FAT ASS.

That’s right. All those long hours in front of your computer, sitting on your couch, banging away at the literary opus that lives inside your laptop:  FAT. ASS.

No one warned me about this. I had to find out the hard way. I woke up one morning, excited that I had finally reached the “query stage” of my writing process, and caught a glimpse of my smile in the mirror. Then the smile disappeared. What the hell is this?  I thought.  Is that my ass?  And where’d my waist go?  I jumped on the scale and did the math.  Over the grueling months it had taken me to edit my novel, I had gained FIFTEEN POUNDS. And it’s not like I wasn’t active during that time. I ran errands, did housework, attended the occasional yoga class, and endlessly catered to a racing heartbeat due to last minute PTO obligations. And yet the pounds packed on like Eric Cartman at a Casa Bonita party.

Now, if you’re among the lucky few who are still in their 20s and can eat a 1a.m. grilled stuffed burrito from Taco Bell—once or twice a week—and never see the repercussions, I applaud you.  Seriously! That’s amazing, and I’m perspiring my jealousy (or that could just be the jumbo margarita I had at dinner. I don’t know the ins and outs of thermoregulation. Frankly, the word “glands” makes me nervous). But if you are NOT one of these lucky few, you are not alone. So, as I continue my struggle to lose the baby weight of my first novel, I offer you some helpful advice on your writing journey that may save you from a bad case of the chubs.

Don’t eat late at night

Yeah right, lady. Oh I know, believe me! In fact, did I mention there is an open bag of Chips Ahoy twenty feet away from me that I can’t stop staring at? Cause there is. And it looks delicious. The fact is, most of us are creatures of the night. We wait for everyone in the house to go to bed so we can stay up and enjoy our creativity in peace. So my suggestion is, if you know you’re going to be pulling an all-nighter, fill a HUGE glass with water and put it beside you. H2O is your new BF. It will not only keep your tummy from rumbling, it will also flush out toxins and boost your brain function and ability to focus. Another great appetite suppressant is gum. Stock up on a few packs. Sugar free. 😉

Write in the morning, not at night

I find that older writers swear by this. They say going to bed early/waking up early improves their ability to focus and brainstorm new ideas. And almost all doctors and dieticians will tell you that sleep is detrimental if you’re looking to lose weight or maintain your figure. Don’t believe me? Check out this article.

Respect your body, it’s attached to your brain.

This is the most logical advice and yet the hardest to follow. You’re a writer, and if you want to bang out the best novel you can, you need your brain to function at full-capacity every day. Be mindful about what you’re putting into your body. Eat right. Nix the sodas. Cut back on the booze and cigarettes. I would even go so far as saying try (just try) to eliminate bread from your diet for a week or two-see if you can tell a difference in your concentration. **Note: Don’t abandon all fun-and-games. After all, what good is a writer if they haven’t lived a little? Enjoy the occasional night out. It’s football season!—down a few lite beers. Have your cake and eat it too, just don’t eat the whole thing.  Limit yourself to a few bites and then toss it to your worst enemy.  Better their fat ass than yours.

If all else fails, write about it

What do you think I’m doing right now?  I’m writing about staring at a Chips Ahoy bag, for God’s sake. I’m on my laptop and it’s 11:33p.m. I’m dog-paddling my way through a moment of weakness. But you know what? I haven’t touched one ounce of food since 8’o’clock this evening. And I fully intend to finish this blog, plug in my phone, crawl into bed, and enjoy tomorrow morning’s feeling of empowerment—knowing that I am fully committed to my fat ass and its demise.

The truth is, being aware of the toll the writing process takes on your body is important, and people don’t tell you this when you’re first starting out.  You’re sitting down a lot.  Your eating schedule is erratic. Your sleep schedule is irregular. You may or may not have time to escape to the gym or go run around the block (hey, when you’re on a role, you’re not movin’ for nothing’! It’s too much of a creative risk to stop and start). So take care of your body. You want to look great when you attend writer’s conferences and meet people who inspire you. You want to be confident in your skin when you’re pitching to agents, and even though you’re a writer and it’s not your job to look good, the chances of people judging you by your appearance is a very reasonable assumption. Their nose isn’t in your book yet, it’s in your face.

Don’t fall victim to the dreaded “writer’s ass.”  And if you do, think of it as your “baby weight.” You just gave birth to your novel (your baby!) and now its time to shed the pounds, boost the confidence, and be a beautiful representative for yourself and your work. 🙂

Photo from South Park

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2 Comments

  • Sandra Fritzinger
    September 11, 2014 at 4:53 pm

    Jan,
    Your mom told me to read your blog and OMG, you are so freakin’ funny! I can’t wait to read your book!

  • jansaenz
    September 11, 2014 at 5:24 pm

    Thanks, Sandra!! Unfortunately, my book isn’t a “fun” read. Hahaha. But my blogs are! Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

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