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Health and Writing

For the past few weeks, I’ve been focusing on my health and nutrition. I went to a gym for the first time in my life, and I did hot yoga. Hot yoga. I hardly recognize myself.

Currently, whenever I need to write something, I make a cup of coffee, put on some music, and proceed to get up from my computer to pace around the room after every few sentences. In the past, I wrote best in a handwritten journal on the floor, later transcribing the words on my grandmother’s old typewriter. In college, critical essays meant disconnecting from the internet, pulling out a bag of popcorn, piling all of my reference books nearby before cranking out an assignment. 

Thinking’s just like not thinking–

So I dont have to think

any

more

Jack Kerouac, “How To Meditate”

For a while, I needed a snack nearby to be able to write as a distraction from the anxiety-inducing appearance of a blank text document and a mindless activity to keep me on task. Now, as I work on cutting processed foods out of my diet, I’m feeling a new relationship between my diet and my writing.

When I fill my days with more natural foods, fruit and vegetables, and especially when I stick to a vegan diet, I feel more clarity. Same with exercise. It’s not surprising: better nutrition plus exercise equals better sleep, better health, better brain functioning. Nevertheless, it got me curious about how other famous writers related their work to their food.

The New York Times has these cute sketches of the favorite foods of famous writers, which includes vinegar, an appetite suppressant, for Lord Byron and John Steinbeck’s cold toast and stale coffee. On the Daily Beast, we learn that Jean-Paul Sartre had a sweet tooth for halva and Truman Capote loved his Italian Summer Pudding.

One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.
Virginia Woolf

There’s something very intimate about learning famous writer’s favorite foods, it makes them human and nostalgic. I wish there were more information available about the specifics of how your diet can affect creativity, as well as exercise. Obviously, writers like Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac used meditation and yoga, but what about those writers who love dance or soccer? Did they see a correlation between their athleticism and writing?

I do, or, at least, I’m finding a correlation between my writing practice and my consistency of working, which is a good enough reason for me to stick with my personal health craze.

Images from the Public Domain Review.

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