Writing can be an actual pain in the butt. I suffer from random attacks of spasming glutes and when they flare, it’s downright debilitating. Like, my husband has to carry me up and down the stairs, debilitating. I used to think it was a sciatica or piriformis issue but the latest OT thinks it’s due to suuuuper lazy glutei maximi that don't fire, letting other muscles pick up the slack. This may be where the term “lazy bum” comes from? Whatever the diagnosis, my butt can be a little angsty, triggered by periods of too much sitting, a very real occupational hazard, of which there are many in this profession.
Which brings me to my sixth post! We must not forget to take care of our health, lest our bodies and minds revolt, letting us know in a myriad of ways that they Are. Not. Happy.
Let’s do a quick refresh on the proper form, shall we?
Listen, I’m actually not going into a lengthy description of how your feet should be firmly on the ground, elbows at 90 degrees, the screen should be blank inches away… you can google. The important thing is to really look into this when setting up your writing space and to make sure you’re not permanently hunched over your laptop for hours on end. Unless you're twenty, then you can do whatever the fudgsicle you want. For now…
Take frequent breaks. Stand, stretch, look out a window. Going for walks also increases your creativity when you’re feeling stuck. There was a TED talk on it. Do yoga. I teach YIN, which is essentially stretching by candlelight to synthy music. If you’re in Toronto, come to my class at Cbarre on the Danforth. Hot Yoga is also great for those with minds that never shut off.
It’s so freaking hot that you’re too busy focusing on not puking on the person next to you that your mind eventually quiets and you get right into your body, feeling all those uncomfortable sensations, sweating those crazy crazy thoughts out through your pores, leaving them behind in a puddle on the floor. It’s bliss.
My diet has suffered this past few months as I’ve been deep in writing land. With summer FINALLY arriving, I don’t think I’ll be fitting into last year’s denim romper any time soon. Sometimes when we’re mired in worlds it’s hard to think about taking the time to figure out what to make, to shop, prepare the food and clean up afterward. Especially if you have a family to feed. This is why there are meal delivery services (and loose-fitting sundresses). Whatever diet you follow, this best one for you and the earth is plant-based, supplemented with fruit, seeds, nuts and healthy fats. So basically, the opposite of what I’ve been eating these past four months. I am feeling it.
This profession can be tough not only physically but also mentally. There is a lot of time, energy and hard work invested for often not a lot of (financial) payoff. You need to make your peace with this. You’re trapped in your head a lot, scrolling through social media feeds of people way more successful than you, wondering if you actually have what it takes to succeed... Again, this is where the hot yoga (or exercise in general) can help. It helps tame that wild ego we’re all born with and helps us to remember what’s really important: chocolate and wine. It’s also good for cultivating mindfulness and gratitude. Meditation can do this as well, though I have yet to be consistent with this.
However you take care of yourself, the point is to remember to do it. Set a timer. Enlist a friend. Come with me to a hot yoga class. You don’t want to end up with a broken butt.
The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book.
Alisha Sevigny is the author of YA novels, Summer Constellations, (winner of CCBC Best Books for Kids & Teens 2018), and Kissing Frogs. Her historical adventure series, Secrets of the Sands, launches January 2020 with The Lost Scroll of the Physician. She holds a degree in professional writing and sociology from the University of Victoria, is a film school graduate, former literary agent, hot yoga lover and avid traveller. Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, she lives in Toronto with her family. You can follow her on social media @alishasevigny.