Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Pound a Page

A Pound a Page

Missy Tippens

I've discovered that if I'm not careful, I'm going to gain about 2-5 pounds per book! I kid you not. It's happened already.

Last fall, when a group of writers went on a writing retreat to the mountains, I was fascinated by how Camy Tang worked. She would write like crazy for a while, then stop to think. And while she thought, she would knit. Then all of a sudden, so quickly it would startle me sometimes, she would toss the knitting aside and start typing like a maniac once again.

I got a real kick out of it. Until recently when I realized I do the exact same thing. Only I don't knit. Guess what I do??!!

I eat.

I write like crazy. Then get to a point where I'm stuck or have to make a decision, and I hop up from the couch (my working area), meander to the kitchen (all the while mulling over the story), open the fridge or freezer, and stare. What am I in the mood for this time? No, I'm tired of sweet. Had ice cream a while ago. Think I'll get something salty. Popcorn.

No, I had popcorn last night and the night before. I'm sick of that. How about chips and dip?! Yes! Chips and dip. (Light, as in lower calorie, chips and dip, but chips and dip nonetheless.) Or do I actually want a candy bar? Maybe I want sweet after all. Because--

Oh, my goodness! My hero needs to be angry in this scene, not be kidding around! No wonder I got stuck. He wouldn't kid around now. She's been frustrating him at every turn!

So, with popcorn in hand...or was it a candy bar?...I rush back to the computer, hit the delete key to wipe out the hero's teasing, eat a bite of the popcorn/candy bar that I don't taste because I've already started typing.

Somehow, all the popcorn and candy bar get eaten. And I didn't even realize it! Wow! Did I really eat both?


What about you? Will someone else please admit to doing this? :)



  1. Missy, I understand the desire to eat when the writing isn't going well. But leaving the computer when I'm struggling with a plot issue doesn't work for me. My writer brain must be attached to my fingers and my mouth because my best ideas and insights come while I'm typing or talking. When I'm up moving around the house my mind darts to chores, calls I should make, a pile of ironing toppling out of the basket and I lose the concentration on my story. Talking to someone, even myself, works, too. My poor husband listens to my plot when we walk. He doesn't have a creative bone in his body, but he knows human nature and actually gives me great input.

    So I eat because I love to. Because it tastes good. Because I'm sick of sitting. But it never helps me get the creativity flowing.


  2. I'm not sure what I do. Although I know that some of my best ideas have come while doing the dishes:-)

    Now about your eating. Okay girl, here's the plan. Before you get hot and heavy into writing, go to the store and stock up all kinds of healthy/semi-healthy treats for yourself. Make sure they're off limits to everyone else. Nuts are good for something salty. Light popcorn is great, take it from this popcorn junkie. Nuts and dried fruit together are good at curbing both the sweet and salty craving. Just don't eat an entire bag. As for ice cream, several brands now have the slow-churned variety, some with no sugar added. Oh my gosh, they're awesome. So smooth and creamy you forget that they're not killing your diet. Blue Bunny double strawberry is my favorite.

    You can also do some of the Fiber One bars instead of a candy bar. My secret weapon in the chocolate department is Dove Promises. I prefer the dark chocolate variety. The key is not to eat it fast, but to suck on it and savor it, quenching that craving.

    Okay, I could go on and on. In losing 40 lbs, I made lots of adjustments without giving up the things I love. And I LOVE food!

  3. Janet, I can just see you talking to yourself! I do the same. My kids will be in the next room and ask if I'm talking to them, and I'll say, no, I'm talking to my characters. LOL

    I think I keep my concentration even while eating because I hardly notice the food! It's just a bad habit. Maybe I need to try to replace it with something totally different, like Mindy mentioned, washing dishes.

  4. Mindy, those are some great ideas! I do eat light popcorn. And the icecream is the Breyer's light. So all that helps. I guess it's just a bad habit!!

    Maybe I should keep some trail mix by the computer. Of course, when I make trail mix, I used mixed nuts, pretzels and...M&M's! :)


  5. OMG, I can so relate. Malted milk balls are my dowfall. Seriously. BUT, I also road bike. Yep, road biking and trail running help me as well.

    But, when I can't just go hop on my bike or go for a run, I reach for the malt balls.

    Crazy, isn't it? Hang in there, Missy.

  6. Oh, yum, I loved malted milk balls, Lynn!! LOL Maybe I can add them to my trail mix! :)

  7. Missy, the reason I knit is because I usually eat. And when my writing block is really bad, I'll throw aside the knitting and resort to potato chips! There is nothing like Lays to get me through a difficult scene, but it's been bad for my health. That's why I joined this year and started monitoring my food intake with the SparkPeople Nutrition Tracker. I've lost weight and still been able to indulge in chips when I'm writing.

    The things we do for our craft...

  8. I really need to get on the Sparkpeople site! I joined but haven't done a thing. Good for you for working so hard!

    And maybe I need to learn to knit! :) (Actually, I used to know how.)

    Thanks for stopping by, Camy.


  9. Missy,

    Recognizing the problem is half the battle! I now tend to clean when I'm at home and trying to work through a plot problem.

    I've gotten my best ideas driving in the car. Maybe you should try taking a walk in your subdivision or hopping in the car and driving around the block. That way, you're burning calories and giving your thoughts some fresh air.

    And by the way, I don't have to have writers block to eat. I eat when I'm stressed. I eat when I'm sad. I eat when I'm happy, I eat when it's pms, I eat when I'm mad.

    Needless to say, I'm trying to take more walks outside than to the refrigerator to help my overall health and fight the battle of the bulge!

  10. Christy, I'm with you on the emotional eating!


  11. I pace. Although I don't usually have time to pace. I either write in the short breaths of time I have available to me or I don't get anything done. I guess I ponder my stories while I'm busy at work and doing other things.