Writers: What is More Important than Writing?

I read Anthony Robbins’s Awaken the Giant Within : How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny! (affiliate link) a few years ago. I love this book and will not part with my scruffy copy.

Yesterday, I was reminded of the book when I pushed myself to jog again.

If you’re like me, finding exercise something of a chore, then you’d understand how I feel about the subject.

It’s not a one-time struggle. It’s an every day or every other day struggle.

Yes, it reminds me of writing.

In the book, Anthony Robbins says ‘values guide our every decision and, therefore, our destiny’ and ‘whatever your values are, they affect the direction of your life’. This is his definition of what values are:

To value something means to place importance upon it; anything that you hold dear can be called a ‘value’.

He talks about the difference between two types of values – ends and means. He gives the example of acquiring money as a means value:

‘What does money really mean to you? What does it give you?’ You might say, ‘Freedom, impact, the ability to contribute, a sense of security.’…money is merely a means to achieving a much deeper set of values, a set of emotions that you desire to experience on a consistent basis in your life.

The ends values are those that will fulfill you, make your life rich and rewarding.

Here are a list of what Robbins calls moving-toward values: love, success, freedom, intimacy, security, adventure, power, passion, comfort and health – set out in his book in that exact order.

I remember writing out my values and then re-writing them to fit my life at the time. What I don’t remember is what they were or what order they were in. But I do remember the value that was at the top of my list. My first priority. The most important thing – even more important than writing. Can you guess?

Yes, you’re right.


Why is health so important for writers?

With any other business, excluding artists and craftsman, if an employee is ill there’s always the possibility of bringing someone in who can take over. The temp (temporary employee) answers emails, phones and ‘cover’ the position until the sick employee is well enough to go back to work.

I’ve been temping for more than five years and it takes a day of training or even no training (you just ask those who are there – there’s always someone who knows how to do something – that is if the business is good at cultivating flexibility) to cover someone who is off sick.

If you’re a writer, you can’t just ask someone to write for you.

No one can take over while you’re unwell. They can’t just sit and write your novel for you.

Some established authors have assistants to help them answer fan mail, emails, return phone calls, organize their schedule etc but even those authors cannot get someone to write their novels for them. Yes, there are such writers as ghostwriters to write your book and guest bloggers to cover your blog but here, we’re talking about writers who want to write their own novels.

If you’re a writer, health should be the most important thing on your list.

And I’m not just talking about how health can help you with your writing. Without good health, you’re unlikely to have the energy to enjoy love, achieve success – all those other values on Anthony Robbins’s list.

When I talk about health, I’m not only talking about physically but also emotionally, mentally and spiritually. You’ll find – well, I find – that once you get physically healthy (and nothing else is stressing you) you become mentally and emotionally healthier as well. As writers, I’ve read, we’re the most prone to depression and mental illnesses which is another reason why we have to look after ourselves.

Is it time for you to have a health spring clean?

Is your body at it’s best? Are your emotions balanced? Is anything mentally getting you down? Is it time to take control? For me it’s time I took control. What about you?

I’m not saying it’s easy. I know it’s not easy. There’s so many other things we have to do. But we must try. I know it’s a struggle to get off your butt, off the internet and put on your jogging gear but you must force yourself. Like writing, you can’t not do it. Like writing, even when you don’t feel like it, you have to.

Here’s an idea:

Daily Routine: Decide on an exercise routine that you can do at least 3 times a week. Say, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Me? I’m jogging and stretching after.

Monthly Routine: If your body is in full working order and nothing is falling off or in need of urgent attention. Make a note of every part of your body that needs care and attention – teeth, face, skin, stomach, hair, toes, feet – especially the bits that give you trouble. And every month, see that you take care of one of those areas. Okay, take for example, teeth. You brush it every day. If you’re not, please brush your teeth every day. So if for one month your teeth is your sole concern (when nothing else is falling apart) that month you might set up an appointment to see the dentist. If you do this every year, you’re having a check up at least once a year.

(As I write this post, my brother popped his head in my room and asked me if I want to go jogging in 5 mins. I’m going to stop writing and put on my jogging gear. My health is more important than writing. So, I’ll see you when I get back.)

How is your health?

Are you looking after yourself?

What are you going to do to make it better?

Any suggestions to help other writers?

Leave a comment. It’s good to know.

Awaken the Giant Within : How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny! (affiliate link)

Cytokines, My Unknown Nemesis

“I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. I will not refuse to do the something I can do.”

Helen Keller – Author and Lecturer

CURRENT STATUS: Reminder, Motivator and Review Meeting (Read on if you want to join me in my Corporation of One meeting)

What l have learnt:

What I have done:

  • Put up my very first affiliate link to Amazon. I’m not sure if this will work. I guess we’ll have to see.

WORD COUNT: Night Walker 149,000 words in total. Wednesday 18 August wrote 1,000 words. Thursday 19 August wrote 1,000 words.

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4 Responses to Writers: What is More Important than Writing?

  1. Patty Blount says:

    What a thought-provoking post! You’re right. Health is a top concern for me, given my mother’s recent terminal diagnosis.

    I’m fortunate; my employer has wonderful amenities including an on-site gym. I used to go to the gym every day, twice a day and then got lazy. After a nearly four-week hiatus in which my physical activity looked much like a sloths’s, I returned to daily lunch time gym visits this week.

    I hurt all over.

    But it’s good, right? It means my body is adjusting to becoming healthy again. I’ve packed on some weight and am stiffening from my writing habits. Regular exercise addresses both of those problems.

    I’m also planning annual doctor’s examinations. There are two health issues in my family I must be diligent about: breast cancer and stroke. I am terrified of hearing bad news, but even more terrified of the alternatives, so I will see the doctor every year, with my fingers crossed and my prayers said. You should all do the same.

  2. Jessie Mac says:

    Patty, yes, I remember reading your post about your mother and remember being touched by what you wrote. Actually your last post I responded to made me think about health and mortality – we’re getting pretty serious here, aren’t we? I’ll stop.

    I ache as I write this from the jog. It takes some time to get back into the flow of things. I used to be much better at exercising and looking after myself but like you I’ve been lazy too. Recently I had some blood tests done pushed by a handful of people mentioning the same thing and it’s been a month or so and I still haven’t gone to the doctor’s to find out what the results are. Unless I’m confined to a bed and not able to move, I won’t do anything.

    And though I don’t sit too long without getting twitchy, we writers do tend to sit a lot – more so if you’re working in an office – so we really have make time for exercise. I do stretches – Callanetics – and it helps with my back. Also, I’m like a series of dominoes – if my body breaks down, everything else breaks down or if I’m low, it affects everything else too.

    You’re so lucky to have a gym at work. You were going every day and sometimes twice a day?! I’m impressed. I wish I could do that.

  3. Jaime says:

    I have recently taken it upon myself to find a balance for my life that involves structured exercise (something I have the *hardest* time doing). I’m what my husband calls a ‘binge exerciser’ – I go in full force, not giving myself time to build up, and then I end up hurting myself in one way or another.

    Now I finally have a plan that involves blocks of exercise that will slowly build up intensity.

    While I have always considered my health incredibly important (I need to lose weight to be able to have a chance at conceiving naturally), I never linked it to my writing. And yet, it’s as you say – no one can write my novel for me when I take a sick day.

    This puts a whole new level on dedicating myself to a life with balance and health.

  4. Jessie Mac says:

    Hi Jaime, thanks for popping by my blog, reading and leaving a comment.

    I’m a bit like you too – I do it well for a week and then it goes downhill.

    What’s really strange is when I’m writing my novel I get twitchy after an hour but when I’m on the internet, time just disappears. It’s almost as if sitting on the computer on the internet has become a habit that is really hard to break.

    The thing is I do feel better. It’s like writing, it’s hard to actually start it but once you’ve done it, it does feel good.

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