This is not – you’ll be surprised to learn – another rant from me on the lack of skills exhibited by certain freelance writers.
No. I literally mean “fit”. And by “literally” I mean that is exactly what it’s about, which is the way the word literally should be used. The word literally should not be used, for example, in the following context:
“That was a tough jog. I am literally dead on my feet.”
No. Not only can you not talk if you are literally dead on your feet because you are, literally, dead; you also cannot stay upright on your feet without the help of a couple of supportive friends, who would not be there if you were literally dead and still upright and talking because that would make you the undead and therefore quite unpopular.
Now that’s cleared up, let’s look at your health.
If you are not already a freelance writer, then you may be thinking this is the perfect job for you. You sit around all day, expending next-to-zero effort to achieve your goals. Much less tiring than a physical job, no doubt.
In truth, you need a fairly robust constitution to become a full-time freelance writer. It’s not just the mental exhaustion of daily creation; it’s also pretty physically draining sitting in the same position for hours on end. Any office worker will tell you the same, but they at least afford themselves statutory coffee breaks and lunch hours, and sneaky cooler chats and unnecessarily long toilet breaks, and they are sufficiently aware of the scrutiny of their superiors that they will make a supreme effort not to nod off, if only by taking a stroll to the stationery cupboard for something they don’t need.
I have a single bed behind my chair. And no one watching me. Do you know how tempting it is to shift backwards three feet and adjust my position to one more prone? But if you have a decent workload and deadlines to meet, that’s just not possible, no matter how tired you are, and no matter how ill you may be feeling.
That’s another thing. What do you do if you feel a bit sniffly in an office job? You ramp up your performance to “flu” and take a few days off. Your work will be covered so who cares?
As a freelance writer, that’s not really an option. You may miss an important deadline and you’re losing money every day you’re not working. Unless you are literally at Death’s door, you have to struggle through.
Okay, who noticed my crap use of “literally”?
Freelance writers need to be firing on all cylinders, both mental and physical. You need to watch what you eat and how much you eat. A large soporific meal at the wrong time and your working day is effectively over.
You may especially want to watch out for overloading on foods high in tryptophan, as tryptophan is the amino acid the body uses to make serotonin, the neurotransmitter that slows down nerve traffic and makes you snoozy. This list is from a website on the subject:
• Dairy products: yogurt, milk, cheese
• Protein foods: beef, pork, turkey, chicken, fish, shellfish, eggs
• Soy products: tofu, soy milk, soybeans
• Legumes: beans, lentils, chickpeas
• Whole Grains: oats, brown rice, wheat, wheat germ
• Nuts and seeds: hazelnuts, peanuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds
• Fruit: mangos, dates, bananas
• Vegetables: beats, kelp, spirulina, potato skins
• Cocoa: dry powder, dutch coco, chocolate
Based on the above, you’re probably thinking you can only have water all day, but at least it may help to pinpoint the culprit if you’re finding yourself especially tired after a certain meal.
I’ll leave you with a joke I made up the other day. Superman is sitting at the dining room table looking ill and exhausted. His mum asks what’s wrong with him.
“I ate crap tonight.”
Crap tonight. Kryptonite. Geddit? I know: I should do stand-up.