Solution to Writing Obstacle No. 14:

“When I write, weird things happen with food.”

Writing may seem incorporeal, but it is not. This serious work requires you to sustain your blood sugar levels and hydration.

But some people eat too little when they are writing and some people eat too much.

Some scholars tell me that when they get anxious about their work, they stop eating regularly, a lack of self-care that has a bad effect on mental clarity and general well-being.

Often their desire to finish a particular task before taking a break leads to this problem. As the scholar Manushag N. Powell puts it, “I tend to skip lunch if I’m making good progress. And then my stomach starts eating itself, and I am a mess for the next two to three days. It’s never worth it.”

Some solutions are having fruit or vegetables at your desk.

Scheduling your writing around mealtimes, not through them, is essential.

A daily writing schedule that regularizes writing helps.

Breaks are essential to productivity and you need fuel to write so combining a quick walk around the block with eating an apple is effective.

If the only way you realize that you have forgotten to eat is if you have an awful headache and a general sense of panic, then set up reminders in your phone.

Other scholars tell me they are on the opposite side of the spectrum and eat too much, literally “binge-writing.” I’m not talking here about people who snack while writing and are fine with it. I’m talking about people who are concerned, and feel that writing is triggering poor eating. 

If that’s the case, the problem may be that you are think of writing as a trauma that you need food to get through. Crazy as it sounds, try to think of writing as its own treat.

That is, too often we get into harmful practices of pathologizing parts of our job. Writing is a privilege and a joy. Even if you don’t believe that, try saying it to yourself anyway and see if the food cravings go down.

Other tricks are to try not to have snacks with more than four ingredients at your desk. And try to work as far from a fridge as possible. And try to eat breakfast, with protein, which is essential to avoiding hunger during the day.

Solution to Writing Obstacle No. 14, one of the health obstacles listed on page 31 of Belcher’s Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks: A Guide to Academic Publishing Success (University of Chicago Press, 2019).