The Perils of Emotional Eating

The Healthy WriterWriters tend to be sensitive. And because of this, they do a lot of emotional eating.

If you find yourself eating or binge eating when you are happy or sad, take heart. This blog post is for you.

There are ways to combat emotional eating while writing. I will talk quite a bit about that in future blog posts.

But first, I would like to tell you my story.

I have been writing for over 25 years, and for most of those years, 20+ years, I had no problem with overeating and binging. I would simply sit down and write and most of the time I would be off to the classroom to teach. So, there was no time to eat a lot of food.

However, when I started teaching only part-time, I found that my binge eating increased drastically. I did a lot of snacking and I snacked for all kinds of reasons.

I snacked when I was happy.

I snacked when I was sad or in pain.

I snacked when I had an argument with my spouse.

I snacked when I finished writing a manuscript and when I started it.

In other words, I was eating a LOT. And I was eating a lot of junk–mostly sugar. So, I put on a LOT of weight: 50 pounds to be exact.

I went to my doctor, and he said that I had high blood pressure, and so it was a major wake up call for me. I know that I had to do something to get my weight under control. But what precisely?

I went on every diet known to man–and still no luck!

Then I went to a dietician, and I realized that I was doing a lot of emotional eating. That was a big AHA moment for me. But how was I going to combat that? I ate for comfort all my life–probably from the time I was five or six?

I sat down with my dietician about six months, and I had to do a lot of journaling to find out what precisely my food triggers were. Once I listed them, I could deal with them.

Why am I telling you all this?

Because I believe that writers are at risk to become very unhealthy unless they take control of their binge eating and emotional eating habits.

Like all habits, you can change them. It just takes a lot of time and patience.

So, do you have the patience to stop binge eating?

Stay tuned for more information in the weeks that follow.

~ Until Next Time!

Irene S. Roth


Don’t Blog While You are Supposed to be Writing!

Window with a ViewMany writers mix up the business side of writing with their creative sides. This doesn’t mean that blogging isn’t a creative enterprise. However, it is obviously NOT writing manuscripts that you can publish.

So, therefore, it is important to do nothing but write new material when you sit down to write for your scheduled time. Choose another time to write blogs. You may want to devote Fridays to writing your blog for the week. And you may want to devote a part of Friday to catching up on pitching and sending queries.

The best way to ensure that you don’t do anything but write during your allotted time is to decide what to do ahead of time. I find it is best to do that over the weekend or Friday for the week ahead. Then once I plan what to do, when the time comes, I sit down and work on that goal and no other. This not only takes the guess-work out of my writing time, but I can also keep track of my goals as well.

So, the next time your writing time comes, don’t blog. Please to blog on Fridays or Saturdays when you are taking care of certain business aspects of your writing. That way you will be successful and productive. But what is more, you will feel self-confident and fulfilled as a writer.

Try it!

Irene S. Roth

I plan to write…but something always gets in the way!

The Excellent WriterSo many writers plan to sit down to write, and actually schedule their writing but somehow when their writing times comes, other things take precedent.

One of the main reasons for this is because they have gotten into the habit of showing others including themselves that their writing is not a priority in their lives.

Now, don’t get me wrong!  If there is a valid emergency, then yes by all means you should attend to whatever needs to be helped and cared for. However, if these emergencies occur on a weekly basis or every time you sit down to write, then you will have to make some adjustments to either your writing time or to your courage to fight for your writing time.

There are seasons of writing and non-writing, when there is way too much going on in our lives. However, we can still get some writing during very busy seasons in our lives. However, to be most successful, we have to ensure that we are resolute with our writing time and not fidget from it. We have to be very serious about our writing time, and keep it safe so that we can be most successful and not frustrated as writers.

If every time you sit down to write, something goes wrong, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Is the time of day that I am writing the problem? Is there another time of day that is not as populated with family and other duties?
  2. Am I not being strong enough to tell others that this is my writing time and it is nonnegotiable. It does take quite a bit of strength and courage to do so. But once you do, you will keep doing it.
  3. Can you lessen the hours at your desk to one hour at a time so that you can accommodate others AFTER you write? All you would have to do is tell your family or friends that you are busy for the next hour! That is easier than saying NO for the rest of the day.
  4. Can you stand up to your family if they make unrealistic demands on you?
  5. Can you honour your writing time, regardless of what else is going on?
  6. Can you put all negative thoughts and expectations aside before you write so that you can not feel skewed and unfocused when you sit down to write–wasting even more time?

By taking the time to answer these questions, you will definitely be taking steps to ensure that you will be writing more often.

Try it!

Irene S. Roth

How to be Productive

The Excellent WriterI believe it is important to be productive to be your best as a writer. However, I believe that each of us has to define what we mean by having a productive writing life. In other words, there are no two writing lives that are the same. We are each in different seasons of our writing life, and with these seasons come different definitions of success and productivity.

So, reflect on where you are in your writing career and where you would like to get to in the next few months or a year. I feel that is what my goals are as a leader in this mentoring group. I don’t claim to have all the answers. But each of you knows quite a bit about your own writing career. It is just important for you to become aware of it. And that is what this month will encourage you to do.

So, get ready to be empowered by your own journey of productivity!

Learn What Productivity Means to You

This month, you will learn what productivity means to you. It is unique to each of us. So, please never compare how much you produce with what someone else does. That is a waste of energy, time, and self-confidence.

Instead, focus on discovering your rhythms of productivity. I will show you how to do so this month.

Following are some questions you can consider as a way to start articulating your personal productivity values and standards. I recommend that you write something down now, even if you’re not sure of the answer, and answer these questions as things unfold over time.

This can be a useful record of how you are growing and what you are learning about yourself and your life. At the end of the month, I will prepare a PDF for you so that you could print out all the questions I ask during these four weeks for your perusal later on.

Here are the questions with no further ado. Just a caveat before we begin. Please don’t get overwhelmed by the number of questions. As I say, just answer them now briefly and plan to revisit these questions as time goes on.

Productivity Defined (by you)

• How to I define a productive writing life?

– What does a productive writing life look and feel like?
– What does it accomplish?
– What are its office hours?
– What are its writing rhythms?
– What else in addition to writing happens in that life?
– What is the work/life balance?

• What writers and authors do I admire?
• What can I learn from their unique or distinctive approaches to productivity?
• What have I read, observed, gleaned over the years about how a productive writing life gets established and nurtured?

How am I productive today?

• What am I accomplishing that I value?
• What skills and strategies am I using to do so?
• What technologies and tools are serving me best?
• What attitudes and habits align with my goals and values?
• Who in my community today is contributing to my 0productivity—through friendship, collaboration, mentorship, writing dates, or something else?

How do I intent to be more productive moving forward?

• What do I want to accomplish in my writing life—both the big-picture long-term, and the specifics of the immediate future?
• What skills and strategies are likely to help me accomplish this?
• What technologies and tools do I intend to lean and use, and how do I expect them to help me?
• What habits or beliefs can I choose or improve to achieve greater productivity?
• Is there additional knowledge or expertise that could help me become more productive?
• What do I know (or who do I want to know), such as friends, colleague or teachers who might help me become more productive?

So, take out your writer’s journal and do some soul-searching by answering these questions!

Try it!

Irene S. Roth

When you Sit down to Write, Do NOTHING But Write!

P1007110227314During the summer months, we tend to be scattered as writers. There are many reasons for this. Most of them have to do with the fact that most of our family is home and they are in vacation mode. But if you are a serious writer, you have to write some part of the summer. Otherwise, you will have a huge gap in your productivity levels, and that can really be frustrating in September when you realize that you got very little, if any, writing done.

The best remedy for this is to make sure that you write every day, if possible. You don’t have to write all day. But you should write at least one hour to be successful. Let’s do some math, shall we?  If we merely write one hour a day, and write at least 500 words a day, and write 5 days a week (notice I am not including the weekend), you will write at least 20 hours a month, and a whopping 10,000 words!!!  So, in 3 months, say, June through September, if you do this, you will have 30,000 words written!  Like wow!!!!! That’s more than half a novel or a whole nonfiction book!  And that isn’t a lot of time to spend writing, is it?

Each of us can find ONE hour a day to write!  If we can’t, well, maybe we should not be considered writers, should we? I don’t mean to be harsh!  But I do want to encourage each of you to do even ONE hour of writing a day for five days a week. Then take the weekend off, and start again.

But there is one caveat in this strategy!  Drum roll please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I know this sounds commonsensical, but it is really?

Here is a quiz for you.  When you sit down to write do you:

  • Just take a sec to answer a few emails: Then you turn around and twenty or more minute when by and no writing has been done?
  • Do you answer the phone during your writing time?
  • Do you allow your family to disturb you when you write?
  • Do you have pets in your office who may beckon attention?
  • Do you decide that maybe you should do some research while you are writing to look something up–just to notice that half an hour went by and you haven’t written a word?
  • Do you do organizational work instead of writing: clearing your desk, your desktop, your computer, dust, lose something and need to find it and so on?
  • Do you do business things such as prepare queries and pitches ready to send out during your writing time instead of writing? The business side of writing is just that, the business side! And sending out pitches qualifies in that category. It is busy work, yes necessary work, but NOT when you are supposed to be writing. It is a waste of time!
  • Do you check email constantly, check for texts, look out the window, and so on?

Any of the above are distractions from your main writing and these things will make sure that you don’t get a lot of writing done when you sit down to write.

So, the next time you set out an hour to write, DO NOTHING BUT WRITE!  And you will get a lot of writing done by the end of the summer.

Come back next week for more tips on how to write during the summer and make the most out of your summer writing!

~ Irene S. Roth

Do You Have a Writing Schedule in Place for the Summer?

8727353266_e12280a9f7_z[1]Do you have a summer writing schedule in place? Many of you have a difficult time to stick to a consistent writing schedule during the summer. These beautiful sunny and warm days propel you to go outside and enjoy the short season of great weather. Well, at least it is short in Northern Canada where I live.

Also, for some of you, with kids being home from school and daycare being out for the summer, the lack of structure for everyone can rack havoc for writers to remain committed to their writing daily quotas. It is important to realize that you can write during the summer by taking a few simple steps and set up a writing schedule that can work with new family demands on your writing time.

Here are a few tips for writers to enjoy the summer and still get some much-needed writing done.

  1. Revise your writing schedule so that it will work with your new reality of kids being at home and hubby hovering around the house.

For instance, you may want to write first thing in the morning before everyone wakes up. Or, you may want to write for an hour after everyone retires for the day or while your hubby is watching yet another baseball game. You don’t have to watch a game that you don’t enjoy anyways. Instead, excuse yourself and get such much-needed writing.

  1. Carry a notepad and pen with you as you travel through your day. If you go to a theme-park and you have second to sit down and catch your breath while your hubby is out with the kids on a carousel ride, enjoy that alone time and do a bit of thinking and jot down some notes. You may have new topics to write about right before your eyes.
  2. Set time boundaries with your family for some alone time. You may want to read during this time, meditate, or just lay low.

Women tend to multi-task and work way too hard. If they’re not with the family, they’re doing housework or cooking and cleaning. Try not to do that.

Instead, find yourself a calming routine and escape to bring about peace of mind, rest and much-needed relaxation.

  1. Don’t try to please everyone all the time. Not only will you mostly fail if you try doing this, but you will be constantly frustrated too.

Instead, set times when you’re with family and also times when you’re doing your own thing. You deserve this. It’s okay to say NO and mean it.

It’s okay to cancel your outing with the family if you don’t want to go to the theme park yet again. Let your family go and just spend some time doing things for yourself and taking care of yourself.

By taking these steps, you will be less frustrated and exhausted during the summer months, and you’ll get some much-needed writing done.

It is difficult to be a writer and to take several weeks or worse months off a year from writing. Some writers can do it, but most can’t afford to. By taking the above steps, you’ll be able to write and also enjoy the summer.

Try it!

Irene S. Roth

How to Eliminate Distractions During the Summer Months

0__IMG_6135[1]It’s easy to become distracted during the summer months. Almost anything can distract you, if you allow it to. It can take a long time to learn how to focus on your writing in such a way that distractions will be minimized, if not avoided altogether even during the summer months.

Most of us can learn to focus on one project and write for an hour or two four or five days a week with a bit of planning, practice and discipline.

Distractions can take many different forms. We could be distracted by our children, spouses, family members, beautiful weather, or phone and email. Limiting these distractions can be easy, if you take a few steps. Here are a few to consider.

  1. Set an egg-timer

I find that setting a timer helps a lot. I set it for, say, one or two hours, and during that time, I don’t do anything but think about what I am doing. The timer gives me the structure I need to keep my eyes and mind on the manuscript that I am working on.

  1. Do nothing but write during your allotted time

Nothing, except an emergency, should move you to do anything else than write during my allotted time. If you are serious about writing, make sure that you actually write during your devoted time.

  1. Shut-off all outside distractions before sitting down to write

It is important for writers to shut off the ringer on the phone and don’t answer the door if the doorbell rings during your allotted writing session. Do nothing but write.

  1. Tell Family about your Writing Time

It is important for you to tell your family ahead of time what your writing schedule will be for the week. Then when you’re writing time comes, honor it so that your family can honor it too. Don’t be persuaded to do anything but write during those times. Be firm!

  1. Work on one project at a time

Productive writers usually finish up all their writing projects. They work diligently through discouragement and rejection. They also find a way to work consistently on a project until it is complete.

Writers will usually hit a lot of distractions when they set out to write during the summer. This is to be expected and is very much a part of writing practice. Try not to give up and quit when the going gets tough. Just keep finding ways to write, even if it is for a short period of time.

I always tell the writers in my critique groups that it is important to write as often as possible. We have all made a commitment to write every day, even if it is for a short time such as 15 minutes. You have no idea how much momentum this brings to your writing life until you try it. So, part of our motto is Write every day! And that is the promise we make to ourselves and each other.  And at the end of the summer, we usually get a LOT of writing done!

So, we could try and do something similar in this group. I believe that part of writing consistently is making a commitment to your writing, and finding a time to write every day—even if it is a short time.

Not only will be habitually writing and become more confident as a writer, but your family and friends will also know that you are serious about your writing.

However, sometimes, you will have to think outside of the box in order to get some writing done.

So, here are some unlikely places that I wrote just to get some extra words down on my WIP during the summer:

  • Write in the car—of course only if you are a passenger. If you are taking a trip to a special destination that takes an hour or two, you could bring your paper and pen or even laptop and just write for a few minutes at a time.

I sometimes get into the back seat where it is quieter and I just write for about half an hour or so until the next pit stop on our trip.

  • Write in the airport—while waiting to board the plane. Sometimes there are delays. Most times, we have to get there at least an hour ahead of time. So, this can be a time to write for even a few minutes.
  • Once the plane is in flight, you can write during your flight or at least read to prepare to write.
  • Wake up a bit earlier and write.
  • Stay up a bit later and write for a few minutes.
  • While your spouse is watching television in the evening, remove yourself on the bed or at a table in the room and write for a few minutes.
  • If it is a nice day, write outside. If the weather is stopping you from writing, take your laptop outside and write there. Or take your pen and paper and head for the park. That is what I do. There is no better feeling that actually writing and thinking by the Avon River.

But also have times when you’re plugged off writing during holidays. Otherwise, you will get on your family’s nerves and you will probably not get much writing done. So, do your writing as bookends during the day, either in the morning or at night. During the day, go out and enjoy yourself. After all, that is what being on vacation is all about. Make memories. Take photos. Eat great food!

By taking these steps, you will be getting some writing during the summer holidays.

Irene S. Roth