Kristen Lamb

Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi

Kristen Lamb — Photo

Posts Tagged: fitness

In this paradigm, social media is—OOH! SQUIRREL!!!!

Today, I want to talk about something that is vital to success. REST. In Western society, we have this warped sense that we need to be productive 24/7. In fact, one of the biggest challenges I face as the Social Media Jedi is that writers believe that, if they are having fun on social media, then they must be doing it incorrectly. They mistakenly believe that all that time chatting about life, hobbies and family is somehow not as good as “marketing” their book and blitzing out non-stop promotion, yet nothing could be farther from the truth.

Contrary to what one might think, that “fun time” on social media will actually create the most resilient parts of our platform—relationships. When people connect with us emotionally, they bond and they become part of our “tribe.” These more primal instincts are what will create long-lasting love, loyalty and passion for our brand.

But writers believe if it is fun, then it mustn’t be work.

As a craft teacher, I run into the same issue in a slightly different form. I can tell in two pages if a writer reads a lot of fiction. It is simply shocking how many people want to write a book, but then they believe that reading fiction (or watching movies) is a waste of time. Everything becomes about pounding out more word count and the quality of the stories suffers.

I run into many writers who are so fried and burned out working on their novel that they can’t remember the last time they had a creative thought. Yet, when I suggest resting, reading a book or watching a movie, I might as well have handed them a crack pipe.

What? READ? Who has TIME?

I must confess that I suffer from the same problem. I work and work and work until I am ready to drop when the best thing I could do for my creativity and productivity is to STOP. I believe a lot of this goes back to my childhood, and is also a product of Western thought and culture.

History and Some Armchair Shrink Time

If you study the Industrial Revolution, you will see that the formation of public schools went hand in hand with industrialization. Schools were charged with creating a literate population, sure. But one of the main reasons so many philanthropists like Vanderbilt, Carnegie and Rockefeller supported schools was that schools were there to train the workforce of the future.

Schools teach us to sit still hours at a time, take instructions, and not to question authority. We learn early on that creativity is punished and conformity is rewarded. I was constantly in trouble in school because I never could work linearly. Sitting still? Fuggetaboutit.

They were constantly claiming that I had a hard time focu—OOH SQUIRREL!!!

Where was I?

Oh, yes…

I remember one time the teacher assigned a complicated maze. I started from the end and worked to the beginning, solving the maze without hitting any dead ends. She gave me an F. Why? The goal of the maze was to solve the maze, right? Why did she care HOW I got the answer so long as I did it myself and didn’t cheat?

But she did care. Yeah, Mrs. Foster kinda hated me. I spent most of my third grade year sitting in the hall. Fun times :D.

I was constantly in trouble for how I looked at life, that I didn’t do it like everyone else and so every report card was marked with: DOESN’T USE TIME WISELY.

Of course, looking back, I was a creative personality, with probably a touch of ADD. We live in a world that punishes those of us who don’t do it the way the manual states, and this can really affect our relationship with time. Creative people, when we walk barefoot in grass or watch cartoons or look at pictures on Pinterest, we ARE working. We can’t help it. We are always creating, but we live in a world that has told us that, because our “work” can’t be measured with “metrics” (I.e. word count) then it must be goofing off.

It isn’t. Learn to ignore those voices.

Back to the dead bodies. Kristen, what is with you? More zombie stuff?

No.

Those of you who follow me on Facebook or Twitter know that I regularly do Bikram yoga, which is 90 minutes and 26 postures in a room that is around 110-112 degrees. It is fabulous for detox, for the joints and the back, and the heat gives an amazing cardio workout and helps prevent injury because warm muscles are pliable muscles.

Anyway, there is a pose called savasana, or Dead Body Pose (or Corpse Pose). When I first started doing Bikram yoga, my biggest challenge wasn’t the poses or even the heat. It was sitting still (and shutting up for 90 minutes, but that is another blog). Seriously, I could not sit still.

I felt too guilty.

I ran through my grocery list. I thought about plot points. I went over research. But just being still and relaxing was making me twitch. The second half of the class was really tough, namely because every pose had a 20 second savasana after it. Pose, then dead body, pose, then dead body. You got it.

THE GUILT!

Please, let me at least take my iPhone in here. Then I can play Angry Birds and improve my eye hand coordination. SOMETHING!

All I could think of was the words of my third grade teacher, Kristen just doesn’t use her time wisely.

*twitch, twitch, twitch*

No matter how hard I tried I had a hard time resting. But then a weird thing happened. I decided to do the Bikram Yoga 60 Day challenge. 60 days of Bikram in 60 days. I happened to notice that I did great in every class but one. There was one instructor I HATED.

I didn’t hate her, just her class. She was a sweet, sweet lady, and I couldn’t understand it, but, every time I took her class, I felt like CRAP. I kept having to sit down. I didn’t have energy. I felt sick, winded, drained and this didn’t make any sense to me because every instructor says the exact same words. They have a 90 minute script that guides the class through the pose. It shouldn’t have been different. Same script, same poses, same room.

I could NOT figure out what was going on.

I drank more water. I took extra electrolytes. I thought maybe it was because she taught in the evening, so I took her in the morning to see if I could make it through. Nope. Still tanked. I thought back to childhood and wondered if it had to do with some unresolved Mommy issues I hadn’t located. Maybe my lack of energy was passive aggression on my part to sabotage her class (Hey, I’m a writer. We over-analyze everything).

No matter what I tried, nothing helped. And I wasn’t the only one who was struggling. I noticed other people in the class having to sit out or rest, because they couldn’t keep going, people who normally were fine.

WTH was going on?

Then, one day while in this instructor’s class, it hit me what was going wrong. In the second part of the class you are supposed to do a pose. This is an extreme exertion of energy. After the pose, you are to lie still in savasana, like a dead body (hence the name). Not only are you supposed to lie still like a dead body, but you are to lie there for TWENTY seconds. Yet, this instructor was rushing. She was only leaving us there for SIX seconds. We didn’t have enough time to rest and recharge, and it was drastically affecting every pose we did.

This was a powerful lesson for me. FOURTEEN seconds. What difference did FOURTEEN seconds make? It made a world of difference. Instead of having energy and doing every pose with confidence and ease, I felt like I was going to vomit and had to keep lying down. I LOST MORE TIME BY NOT TAKING TIME.

How many minutes of the workout did I lose because of those missing fourteen seconds?

How much of your productive time are you losing because you won’t take a day or two days to rest?

Dead bodies are good for us. Lie still. Do nothing. Dead bodies don’t have grocery lists and kids and deadlines and day jobs. We must have balance, Yin and Yang, light and dark, cookie and cream filling. The Force must be strong with you so chill the heck OUT!

I know many of you likely have a Mrs. Foster in your head telling you that you aren’t using time wisely. Ignore her and don’t feed her your attention and energy. Things we don’t feed eventually die, even the sour-faced elementary school teacher trapped in your head.

When we rest and recharge our work is better and clearer. Creativity is like a battery and it runs out of juice. Recharge that imagination. Play, relax, go to the park, finger paint, play Twister with your kids. Laugh. The world needs creative people to keep its humanity. If all of us are just efficient little workers then Skynet wins.

So go enjoy your weekend…after you comment. I will be grading, and those of you who don’t leave a comment are not using your time wisely. SLACKER!

😀

So do you have a Mrs.Foster trapped in your head? Were you in trouble for not sitting still and for failing to use time wisely? So you have trouble resting? Have you overcome being a workaholic and have tips to share? Do you—OOH! SHINY!

I LOVE hearing from you!

Quick Announcement—I have a cool new class I am offering ACHOO! The Writer’s Guide to Going Viral. Also check out the new classes at WANA International. We have classes about global domination using Facebook, how to turn your book into an audio book, how to build a WordPress site of your own. Tons of cool stuff taught by WANA instructors hand-picked by ME (but please do not hold this against them :P).

To prove it and show my love, for the month of October, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.

At the end of October I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!

I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books.

 

Is this what your insides look like? (photo courtesy of magicpoolservices.com )

Writers are not exactly the poster children for health and wellness. We are known for overindulgence, whether that is coffee, alcohol, nicotine or even self-pity. Too many of us are cramped and huddled over a keyboard, multi-tasking a bazillion things at one time. We edit our WIP while our child uses our knee for a chew toy. We balance the phone against our ear to pay the bills while we try to cull through the 369 e-mails that magically appeared in our In Box while we slept. We seem to always be going full steam and in a thousand directions.

The problem is that this is not a good way for anyone to live, particularly creative people.  Our best work will come when we are centered, fit, and healthy.

I used to do an hour of yoga a day. Hey, I was single with no children and all I did was edit manuscripts and write copy for a living. My time was my own.  Of course, yoga was likely the only thing I did that was healthy. I had a long list of really unhealthy habits including too much coffee and wine and too little sleep. I burned the candle at both ends and ate like hell. In the end, that poor living left me a neurotic and unproductive mess.

I seem to have this penchant for learning by doing everything wrong, but, hey, at least I am good for something. So, today I will give you guys a handful of tips to help you guys remain fit, centered, and healthy. I learned all this stuff the hard way so you don’t have to.

Learn to Limit Caffeine and Sugar

I used to be the poster child for energy drinks. What those companies don’t tell you, though, is that guarana, ginsing and ginkoba can give you anxiety, depression and mood swings. Sure they help us feel perky and the brain feels clearer, but if we come to rely on those kinds of drinks, we tax our adrenal system. These herbs can stay in the system and interfere with getting restful sleep. Sugar is highly corrosive to the body and can cause all kinds of disease and premature aging. We can have sugar, but living off it is a bad plan.

I drink two cups of coffee a day, but my last cup is no later than noon. I used to suffer terribly from insomnia, and this practice of limiting caffeine and sugar has helped tremendously.

Exercise

Oh, I’m such a nag! Yes, and eat your vegetables and wear clean underwear, too. Here’s the deal. Our body is mostly water. Ever seen an abandoned swimming pool that’s been sitting in the sun? It’s all slimy with green goo floating on the surface pocked with mosquito eggs. The water is like a hot zone, full of bacteria and leeches and all things yucky. The water is a dark greenish-yellowish-brown.

That is the picture of a body that doesn’t move.

Our lymphatic system is the filter for our body, and it only works if we move. Motion pumps fluid through the lymphatic system to filter all the yucky stuff that causes disease, depression and cancer. We don’t have to work out like world athletes, but 30 minutes of activity a day can do wonders.

Oh, I can’t seem to make my word count. Blech. (photo courtesy of housingbath.com)

Water

Continuing the pool analogy, what would happen if you filled your pool with Coke, coffee, or tea? We are a hydroelectric system and we need water. Not only does exercise get the pumps working, but we need fresh water to replace the old yucky stuff. Our body cannot clean itself properly with soda. All nerve firing happens by conducting pulses of electricity across a hydroelectric grid of sorts. When we don’t have enough water, we misfire… a lot. Braid foggy? Feeling tired? Having a hard time focusing? Try a glass of water before reaching for an energy drink. Think of a plant withering from lack of water. This is your brain. Don’t water the plants (brain) with Dr. Pepper.

Stretching

Writers need to stretch or we risk all kinds of joint and back problems. If we are going to do this writing thing for a career, then we need to take care of our equipment. Yoga can serve as the exercise I mentioned earlier. Yoga is wonderful for getting the blood out of our feet and back in our brain. Yoga also strengthens the core muscles which are vital for a healthy back. Back surgery is a surefire way to stop a writing career dead in its tracks.

Eat Good Food

I have a rule. If an eight year old can’t read the ingredients, I don’t eat it. Avoid processed foods. Who knows what kind of effect all those chemicals have short-term or even long-term? Back in the 90s I ate olive oil, but my sister-in-law swore by the spreadable junk that came in a tub because it was low in fat and olives were just loaded in fat. I countered with, “Yeah, but even the roaches won’t eat your ‘butter.’ That can’t be good.” So, if the roaches turn their nose up at your favorite snack? That can’t be good brain food. Writers need their brains in top form. Feed it good stuff.

Get Enough Sleep

Actually, if we follow these tips, often we will find we get far better sleep. Exercise helps us work off anxiety and stress hormones. Water flushes the nasty byproducts out of the system. Stretching releases serotonin and relaxes us. When we limit caffeine, we aren’t working our adrenal glands into the ground. Good food is just great building material for a healthy body and mind, which are both vital to be a successful writer. Sleep allows our bodies and minds to recharge. A rested writer is a focused, more productive writer.

I included my favorite video, called “Be Careful what You Eat.” It’s hysterical. I hope it gives you guys a laugh. And make sure you pick up a copy of Joy Held’s Writer Wellness for even more tips to be healthy and productive.

So what tips can you guys share? What problems do you have with maintaining a healthy lifestyle? HAve you mended your ways and now enjoy more energy? Share your success.

I love hearing from you! And to prove it and show my love, for the month of July, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of June I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!

Note: I am keeping all the names for a final GRAND, GRAND PRIZE of 30 Pages (To be announced) OR a blog diagnostic. I look at your blog and give feedback to improve it. For now, I will draw weekly for 5 page edit, monthly for 15 page edit.

Last Week’s Winner of 5 page critique is J. Thomas Ross. Please send 1250 word Word document to kristen at kristen lamb dot org.

In the meantime, I hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . Both books are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in th biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left over to write more great books! I am here to change your approach, not your personality.