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How Not To Give A F*ck – Exercise

In this continuing series, I will show you how not to give a fuck about your book rejections, bad reviews, and disappointing sales. Please see the table of contents at the bottom of this post for more in this series.

Me, on a walk, no fucks to be found.
Me, on a walk, no fucks to be found.
Maybe this post will come off as a little cliche, because everyone’s talking about it, but I don’t give a fuck. (See what I did there?)

Here’s the real, raw truth: if you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t write. Maybe you’re healthy, in your twenties, and you can sit down and type 10,000 words a day or more? Enjoy it while it lasts because that is not how you’ll be able to perform for the rest of your life, AND I dare say, you are accelerating your demise faster than I ever did. And I was a computer programmer for 18 years before becoming an author! Spent hours at the computer every day, coding. I used to get knots, ganglion cysts, between my fingers from so much typing. I fear they’ll be back soon.

So besides needing exercise to combat the effects of being at your computer all day, you also need it to help you not give a fuck. Why? Exercise is a great mood booster! Psychology Today actually did a meditation vs. exercise smackdown and I found this passage very telling…

“There is also strong evidence in humans that exercise improves the functions of your prefrontal cortex — the part of your brain that sits right behind your eyeballs. Your prefrontal cortex is involved in “executive functions” that include attention, working memory (keeping things in mind), and mental flexibility. If that wasn’t enough, we also know that exercise is a great mood booster. In one study it was shown that exercise could be as effective as a commonly used anti-depressant at improving symptoms of major depressive disorder. Clearly exercise packs a mean punch.”

See? Enhancing your mood also helps you not give a fuck! I’m sure of it. I certainly have fewer fucks to give after a good workout.

So let’s talk about what happens to you when you don’t exercise as an author. One of the things about being an author is that it requires a lot of sitting unless you've changed from the classic author mode to a standing or a treadmill desk. So not only can writing be bad for your mindset on occasion, when dealing with all the bullshit, but it can also be hard on your body.

Authors constantly deal with such ailments as RSI (Repetitive Stress Injury), carpal tunnel, sciatica, curved spines, wrist injuries, shoulder injuries, neck injuries, and eye strain. Sheesh! You would think we play a dangerous sport or something! But this is all from being in front of the computer too long. And when we’re in pain and poring over our credit card statement that will not be covered by this month’s royalty check, our moods plummet and we start to give fucks like we’re made of them.

No! Get up! Get moving! A good rush of endorphins can really help change your mood, and regular exercise that you stick to can help you keep a positive attitude through just about anything. How do you fit that exercise in with the looming deadlines and the fact that you have to write one bazillion words before the weekend and your hair is falling out?

Obviously, I'm not a doctor nor a personal trainer so if you want to really get in shape, I suggest consulting with a professional on this. But even a small amount of exercise can help when you're blindsided by an awful review or you're looking at your month-end numbers and you want to vomit.

1) Get up from your desk and walk away. Give yourself a goal for every crappy thing you encounter. Hit a new sales low? Do ten push-ups. Some reader writes you hate mail? Go for a ten minute walk. My favorite is every time I think that I suck and I'm a terrible writer, I get up and do 20 squats. I hate squats so I try to think nice things most days. Motivation!

2) Become friends with the Pomodoro timer. You’ve probably heard about this method online or through other author friends. Just google “Pomodoro Timer” and download an app to your phone or computer (or you can go old school with a timer of your own). BUT HERE’S WHERE I SUGGEST SOMETHING DIFFERENT! I had to put that in caps so you’d pay attention. Most authors I know set their Pomodoro Timers to something like this: 20 minutes of work, 5 minutes rest, 20 minutes of work, 5 minutes rest, 20 minutes of work, 5 minutes rest, 20 minutes of work, 15 minutes rest. People, this is NOT ENOUGH REST. This is how I want you to set your timer: 30 (or 45) minutes work, 15 minutes rest, 30 (or 45) minutes of work, 15 minutes rest, etc. And every time it’s “rest time,” get up from your computer, look out the window or focus on something very far away, and do some exercise. Come up with a routine. Squats, lunges, high-knees, planking, a round of sun salutation if you’re into yoga. Get your body moving and rest your eyes. Don’t check email. Don’t get on social media. Leave the computer and move your body. You’ll thank me for it later.

3) Become a walker. Now this is my own personal thing, but I swear that walking is something that a vast majority of authors do. I would love to see a study correlating walking to writing. I bet there would be a connection there. Either go for a walk and let your brain drink in your surroundings or listen to something (music, audiobooks, or podcasts) that’ll keep your mind off anything you’re giving a fuck about. When I exercise with just music or the sound of nature, my mind wanders and I think of excellent ideas for my plots and characters. If I'm sick of my projects, I can get a break by listening to an audiobook or an industry podcast. I always come back from a walk feeling much better about life, myself, and my career.

4) Consider a standing or treadmill desk. I understand that sitting is nice. Heck, I’m sitting as I type this right now. But taking a portion of your day to stand and work, or walk and work, is a much better option for your body. I tell people about my treadmill desk all the time and the first thing they say is, “I would break my neck if I did that.” People, I promise that it’s VERY slow walking. Like 1.8 miles per hour. It’s a slow stroll. I barely even notice my legs are moving. BUT THEY ARE. And when I step off the treadmill after working on it for an hour, and I’m both physically exhausted and mentally spent from creating a whole world out of nothing, I give so little in the way of fucks. Like none. It’s the best.

So if these things haven’t convinced you that exercise will help both your body and your mind give fewer fucks, then let me point to this…

“Meditation and aerobic exercise done together helps reduce depression, according to a new Rutgers study. The study, published in Translational Psychiatry this month, found that the mind and body combination – done twice a week for only two months – reduced the symptoms for a group of students by 40 percent.

‘Scientists have known for a while that both of these activities alone can help with depression,’ says Shors. ‘But this study suggests that when done together, there is a striking improvement in depressive symptoms along with increases in synchronized brain activity.’

The men and women in the Rutgers study who completed the eight-week program – 22 suffering with depression and 30 mentally healthy students – reported fewer depressive symptoms and said they did not spend as much time worrying about negative situations taking place in their lives as they did before the study began.” — Rutgers Today

Less time worrying about negative situations? That sounds like giving no fucks! Yes! *Rubs hands together* My plan is coming together!

Now go out there, exercise, and give no fucks, my friends.

What are your favorite ways to get exercise into your day? Share them in the comments!

Table of Contents for the How Not To Give A F*ck About Your Book Rejections, Bad Reviews, and Disappointing Sales Series

  1. Introduction
  2. Meditation
  3. Exercise
  4. Negative To Positive
  5. Keep Learning
  6. Get A Hobby
  7. Refill The Well
  8. Just Don't Look!
  9. Temper Your Expectations
Expect a new post in this series every Friday!
S. J. Pajonas