Sometimes writing is incredibly fun and nourishing, even if we are doing it for some non-fun reason. Other times, writing an email to a close friend feels like a burden. Why is this?
Your life is a giant three-dimensional puzzle of causality. Everything you do affects other parts of the puzzle. Food is one of the things that has the most measurable and dramatic effect on our mood. If you go for a swim in the morning and then eat some mango, the afternoon will feel different than if you ate pizza for breakfast while watching Jerry Springer.
But how mindful are we of how this food affects our bodies, outside of the initial moment of tasting it? And what does this have to do with writing? We are not writing in a vacuum. We are writing from our bodies, always. If you sprain your wrist, it will show in your writing. If you are in a bad mood from eating too much sugar, it will show in your writing. So how can we work with this?
The natural answer is to pay attention to the food you eat. Pay attention to the things you drink. Some of us love paying attention to food while we eat it, others go into a dissociative eating frenzy. Regardless of what you normally do, try to keep track of how what you eat affects you throughout the day. Seems tricky, doesn’t it? Here’s some ideas to get us started:
- With any food, pay attention to how it tastes and feels in your mouth.
- Pay attention to how your body and mind feel right after eating it. Do you feel inspired, motivated, tired, grouchy?
- Touch back into your body and mind state in an hour. Did that inspiration go flat? Did it get more intense? Did that tiredness subside and lead to a feeling of being deeply nourished? What happened to those original feelings?
- Wait till you feel the teeniest bit hungry (unless you have a health condition, in which case, ignore this). How does it feel to write now? Do you feel inspired, unfocused, tired? What is the feeling of being hungry like, is it new to you or all too familiar?
- Eat something that you don’t normally eat while you are actually hungry. How does it feel? Is it strange, invigorating, uplifting? Does it make you feel like you want something else, something familiar?
- Pay attention to coffee and tea, to how they feel in the moment, in a half hour, in an hour. Switch it up for a day, see how that feels.
- Do this process of noticing your food and how it feels hours later. Do it for several days, try to notice patterns. Maybe cereal in the morning gives you a quick boost but leads to grouchiness later on, and when you eat oatmeal, this doesn’t happen. Who knows, it’s your body!
Sometimes we don’t realize the long-standing affects of things. We know that coffee helps us write in the moment. We know that a peanut butter sandwich is quick and filling. But what about how these things affect us over time, and why does it matter?
If we mindlessly engage with ritualistic and boring patterns of eating, we are only writing from one portion of our potential existence. We may have never written while hungry, may have never written after not eating white sugar for three days. These things affect our bodies; the same bodies that give rise to our voices.
If you want to see all the little writer voices inside of you and what they have to say, you have to give them different conditions.
And what about non-consumable nourishment?
Food is more than what you eat through your mouth.
Those woods you walked through this morning, they affected your mood. That swim you took while watching the sunset, that affected your mood. These things affect your physical digestion and also your levels of inspiration and awareness.
So how can we make sure to dip our minds and bodies into a wide and colorful variety of experiences? Even if we work overtime each week and have kids and pets to take care of, we still have to eat, and we still have the ability to pay attention to how nourishment of all kinds makes us feel. What is one thing you can do today to learn about how food and writing are related in your life?