A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.

Defeating writer’s bottom.

I sold Linked, plus its as-yet-unwritten sequel, in the summer of 2011.  Which meant, with edits for Linked, then writing the sequel (Unravel, out in the summer of 2014), then edits for the sequel, I was working to deadlines for the next year and a half.  And that meant a fair amount of takeaway pizza, sitting with my laptop in coffee shops, and diving into large glasses of red wine at the end of my working days.  Which, in turn, meant that I got to the end of 2012…well, a little fatter and a lot less fit than I wanted to be!

It’s a problem a lot of writers – and other people who work from home – discover.  And a lot of us find that we have to organise ourselves into doing something about it, because exercise doesn’t just fit naturally into a writer’s life.

Some writers have dogs, which is obviously a great way of forcing exercise into your day.  We, however, have a fat cat.  So she’s no help.  And some writers have treadmill desks (so cool, but my desk is set up very precisely to help with my repetitive strain injury, and I daren’t mess with it by converting to a treadmill!).

I did, though, discover a type of exercise that fits perfectly with my life: running. I can go any time – I don’t have to fit in with gym or swimming pool opening hours – and I don’t have to travel anywhere first.  We’re lucky enough to live in the countryside, so there are several lovely routes I can use, all a five-minute warmup walk from my front door.

It still takes some discipline – when you’re snowed under with work it sometimes feels you can’t even spare half an hour to run, still less the extra time afterwards to shower and change! – but after a day spent in your own head, it often feels fabulous to do something mindlessly active.  Sometimes I listen to music as I run; sometimes I quite like having no accompanying sound but the thump of my running shoes.

I’ve been running regularly for over a year now, and it’s made an amazing difference to my fitness.  You DO need good running shoes (and, depending on your particular physique, a supportive bra), and you also need to warm up before you run.  And I found that in order to keep it up through the winter, I needed gloves, a windproof jacket, and earmuffs.  But compared to a lot of activities, it’s very cheap and easy.  And you can always enliven your runs by pretending you’re Katniss in the Arena.  Not that I’ve ever done that or anything.

The other thing I’ve done is take up intermittent fasting.  The “Fast Diet” or the “5:2 Diet” has become super trendy over this last year, following a Horizon program shown on TV in August 2012, and there are a tonne of books on one version or another of it.

I discovered it via Kate Harrison, who wrote one of the very first books about it (mostly because at that point there were no other books, and she thought there should be!).  Her book is The 5:2 Diet Book, and I still think it’s the best one, even more so than the official book (The Fast Diet by Michael Mosley, who presented the Horizon program).

Intermittent fasting (where you have one or two days a week when you eat no more than about 500 calories, then relax and eat more or less what you want the rest of the week), isn’t for everyone (it’s particularly NOT recommended for anyone with a history of eating disorders), but I’ve found that it fits in perfectly with the writer’s life.  Or at least this writer’s life!  I’m down a dress size since this time last year, back to my pre-deadlines weight, and I’m still enjoying my laptop-and-latte time at Costa, the occasional oh-my-goodness-is-it-dinnertime-already takeaway, and, of course, champagne when it’s release day or new contract time!

If you work from home, what do you do to keep relatively healthy?  Come tell me in the comments!  The tip I like the best will win your choice of Linked or The 5:2 Diet Book (Linked will be the UK paperback version, The 5:2 Diet Book can be paperback or Kindle, whichever you prefer).

About Imogen Howson

magical fiction for young adults and adults

3 comments on “Defeating writer’s bottom.

  1. jarienswords
    November 21, 2013

    I work from home (as a 3D CG artist), and I am writing a series of novels, so most of my time is spent sitting in front of a computer. I ride my bicycle for transportation whenever possible. Running is my aerobic exercise of choice, but it’s difficult to convince myself to run in the cold winter months. Even with a proper jacket, gloves, etc., breathing in cold air is very unpleasant, and unhealthy I suspect. But running on a treadmill in a gym is mind-numbingly frustrating for me. The result is that I tend to exercise more in the summer than in the winter. So I guess the solution is to try to exercise at home. Pushups, situps, crunches, etc. are great but aren’t aerobic. Jumping jacks, high knees, etc. are, but are kind of loud. For arm exercises, I have light weights, which are cheap and don’t take up much space. So I guess in general I would advise finding exercises to do at home if you’re short on time and live a sedentary lifestyle.

  2. Pingback: Procrastinate – it’s good for you! | Author Allsorts

  3. Imogen Howson
    December 9, 2013

    Oh, Jarienswords, I forgot to reply to you! If you’d like a copy of Linked or the 5:2 Diet Book, please email me on immihowsonATgmailDOTcom and I’ll get one sent to you. I’m sorry I took forever to reply!

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