Will Travel for Words: You Write What You Eat
Shelf Pleasure contributor Karen A. Chase shares her many journeys, both near and far, in pursuit of interesting stories in her monthly feature, Will Travel for Words. This month, she takes us a little closer to home…and shows us you really are what you eat.
Many years ago, my brother and I went for Chinese food and when he opened his fortune cookie it said, “Life is like sewer. What you get out of it depends on what you put into it.”
We laughed like crazy at the time, but as I have worked to keep track of all the details within a massive historical novel, I think I’ve come to understand that phrase better. It’s about maintaining the health of a system. Mine.
I’m sure, like me, you’ve met or heard of writers who strive to write like Hunter S. Thompson by living like him. Or they believe in the myth of Hemingway’s axiom, “Write drunk. Edit sober.” They enter into some altered stupor with the belief that it gives them access to a deep well of human emotions otherwise untapped. Maybe for some it does.
But is an altered world what I want for my stories? Or is it the ability to convey my perception of the real world without being clouded or blinded? Do I want to create a sewer or a clearer stream for my readers to wade into?
If it’s the latter, then what I need aren’t bad habits that dull my perception, but something to sharpen them. Enter (groan if you like) a healthy diet.
Without getting into the science of it (I’ll leave that to LiveScience and their article on brain health) and without getting into how-to-eat recommendations (see WebMD’s How Food Affects your Mood), let me simply provide my experience.
On the days I write, when I eat better my writing is significantly better. My word count is higher. The quality of my sentences is far superior. My train of thought from one paragraph to the next, one chapter to another, is better connected.
I write better by eating more fruits and veggies, a good breakfast, healthy fats like avocados and baked fish and by consuming less junk food, less alcohol, fewer sugars, and fewer bad carbs (I am talking to you bread and pasta, you energy suckers).
Does that mean I never eat poorly? In a world that makes potato chips and cake, puh-lease! I heard Barbara Streisand once say she sometimes eats a whole pizza to remember why she shouldn’t eat a whole pizza. Everything in moderation, including moderation.
But for daily habits, and daily writing, I know I require the right ingredients going into my system to help my brain run at peak performance. If what I get out of it depends upon what I put into it, I want my system focused on the work and not on struggling to manage a sewer of a body.
I look at it this way. If I let my hand wander wherever it wants, whenever it wants, to bring back whatever my mouth wants, it takes a big bite out of what I want to do most: travel for words.
(Now go and leave me alone, you delicious Halloween candy-corn.)
Karen A. Chase is a regular contributor to Shelf Pleasure, sharing journeys near and far in the pursuit of stories and novels in her monthly feature, Will Travel for Words. She is the author of Bonjour 40: A Paris Travel Log, winner of seven Independent Book Publishing Awards for travel and design. She is currently working on an historical novel set during the American Revolution. Find Karen on Facebook, or on Twitter.
Author and Shelf Pleasure contributor Karen A. Chase on how ..
Feeling a bit burnt out, author Karen A. Chase takes ..
Author and Shelf Pleasure contributor Karen A. Chase on turning ..
Last month our traveling writer Karen A. Chase wrote about ..
Shelf Pleasure contributor Karen A. Chase shares her journeys near ..
Shelf Pleasure contributor Karen A. Chase shares her many journeys, ..