Writing Notes #2 – FanX 2015 – Your Health as a Writer and the Future of YA Writing

I went to a couple writing panels the other weekend when I attended Salt Lake Comic Con Fan-Experience.  I figured I’d share my notes with you on two panels that I found helpful.  🙂

Writing and Your Health

As writers, sometimes out health goes out the window as we focus on our next big story or editing or sending queries to agents.  This can have big bad consequences which can affect us physically and mentally and hurt our writing.  It’s important to stay in good health so your writing career can move forward without obstruction from your body.

Let’s start out discussing the physical aspect of health:

Sitting for too long is bad for your back and causes back pain.  Get up from the chair and move around every fifteen minutes or so.  Give yourself a break from sitting and keep yourself moving.  You can sprinkle household chores throughout the day to help with this if you’d like.  Use a timer or reminders or something to establish the habit if you need.

Be proactive about your health.  Eat right, rest adequately, and be physical.  Remember to use moderation.  The saying “no pain no gain is false.”  You can gain a lot and stay healthy by moving around without hurting yourself.  Find something that’s fun for you, like rock climbing or something.  Personally, I’m learning H.E.M.A. (Historical European Martial Arts) focusing on the longsword.  It’s super cool and is research for one of the book series I plan to write.

All the writers on the panel strongly recommended walking, at least one thirty-minute walk every day.  It’s great for clearing your head and giving you time to think without distraction.  Also, some of them love to dictate their stories while they walk.  They recommended Dragon as a good dictation/transcription program.

Also, STRETCH!  Stretch our your back and your arms to avoid back pain and carpel tunnel.  Learn the proper stretches and use them on a daily basis.  Ric Meyers recommends Peng Shui to take care of your body and mind.

Now the mental aspect:

Cheree Alsop told us about how writers use up their dopamine faster.  Creativity wears the brain out, so take care of it.  Some foods you can eat to reboot your dopamine levels are: pumpkin seeds, dark colored fruits and vegetables, bananas, almonds, and sesame seeds. Exercise helps as well.

You can’t read other people’s minds, but you can read your own.  Read it and go deep.  Learn to identify your emotions and how/why your behaving. Understand yourself, that way you can know what to do to take care of yourself.

Embrace what’s unique about you and be excited about what you do.  That way you can be happy in life.  Keep a realistic positive outlook.  Love yourself.  Collaborate with yourself.  Be your best critic and your best editor.  You are the best help to yourself that you can ever have.

And as a cool side note, Ric Meyers told us that Kung Fu means “Human achievement.”  So basically, Kung Fu is all about improving yourself and becoming a better human being, not just a martial art for beating people up.

Future of YA Writing

YA is big and booming, so you have to make sure you get yourself out there and build yourself a tribe of followers.  You know you’ve made it when a group of followers give themselves a name and become your tribe.  Social media is key to this.  Blog, Tweet, etc., do everything and network.  You need to start marketing now, before you’re done writing.  This way you can build your reader base and get a head start before you’re even published.

It’s important to have a website where your fans can get information.  Even better, have a website that gets updated with something on a regular basis so that they know you’re still alive and care about them.  Having a word-count tracker can be cool so that they can see you’re making progress.

Start an email list and send out emails. EMAIL MARKETING IS SUPER IMPORTANT.  Your reader base will die without it.  Let people know what’s happening and update them about your work.  They need to know when something new of yours is coming out so they can read and buy it.  This is a bit trickier when you’re writing for children, so get the parent’s emails.

The YA market is the market where the readers start choosing to read the books themselves instead of being given the books by their parents or teachers.

Also, when dealing with kids, you have to protect them from other people trying to abuse the tribe.  Police your social media and forums and make sure people stay appropriate to keep it safe for your young audience.

I hope these notes are helpful to you!  I know I need to start practicing everything I learned from them.

-Writing Senpai

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