by Danielle M. LeFevre
Writing is too often a lonely, sedentary profession. For many years I approach writing and health the same way: something I wanted to do, but couldn’t find the time. That changed during the first year of my MFA program in 2007.
In an introductory course, we learned about the mechanics of stories through exercises. We wrote stories to break stories. I attempted to write a story with no plot, no setting, no characters. Once I realized writing didn’t need to be a solitary endeavor, I began to write alongside my fellow MFA students. I had plenty of ideas but still spent far too much time hunched over my computer.
That’s when I decided to move. It wasn’t enough to sit and write. I needed to be out in the world, moving through it, with other people. I made my health a priority. I started working out, eating more greens, paying attention to what made my body happy. I still loved writing, but I wanted to be active too. This eventually led me to workshops and conventions.
Now, I’m fresh off another successful MileHiCon in Denver, CO. Not only did I meet fantastic writers, I also stuck to my fitness goals, despite the altitude. The most important thing I can do when traveling is to plan ahead.
- Pack healthy snacks. The less hungry you are, the less tempted you will be to eat something unhealthy. Bring your favorite snack; jerky, trail mix and protein bars are my favorites. They provide enough calories to keep me satisfied between meals, and keep me alert during panels.
- Practice body weight workouts. It’s a good idea to test out new workouts at home, where you are comfortable and familiar with your own limits. Youtube has tons of body weight workout videos. I look for ones that are 15-20 minutes long, with an emphasis on healthy, gentle movements. Yoga is my favorite type of exercise to practice at cons.
- Explore menus in advance. At home, when you are full of leafy greens, go through the menus of places you might eat. The hotel restaurant is usually a good bet. Pick out one or two menu items that fit your diet. Then, when you’re faced with the same menu, you won’t need to skim it or think, “what am I hungry for now?” You’ll already know what to order.
- Be kind to yourself. If you find that sleep is more important, or you end up somewhere unexpected and order a burger, be kind to yourself. It is okay not to hit every goal all of the time. Be proud of what you have already accomplished.
There’s nothing like a convention to prove that writing does not need to be a solo, sedentary profession. At MileHiCon, I had plenty of snacks on hand, I worked out in the gym and in my own room, and I mostly ate well.
One night, while discussing the first panels of the convention, I ordered cheese curds. I practiced kindness and shared the ooey gooey cheese with my friends.
Danielle M. LeFevre is a YA author with her debut story appearing in the anthology “UnCONventional”. She graduated with her M.F.A. from Chapman University in 2009, and the Taos Toolbox workshop in 2010. When not wrangling storylines, she enjoys exploring Silicon Valley. For more, please visit: http://writerling.com/