The Writer’s Diet

This post was published a while back on Omnimystery News. Thought it was worth repeating!

I have found that most appointments involving doctors or dentists are rarely going to be on time, so I scour the room for a magazine rack. There is plenty of time to catch up on what Martha Stewart recommends for your summer outdoor dining, what Oprah Winfrey and her multitude of fans are reading this day, or which movie star has just adopted a child from a country so remote even the CIA wouldn’t be able to find it. Every time I leaf through a magazine (or channel surf through my cable TV network), I am bombarded with the latest fad diets recommended by such daytime gurus as Dr. Oz and Dr. Phil. Promises of amazingly quick weight loss with minimal effort that all sound too good to be true. Imagine being able to lose all the weight a person has packed on for the last fifteen years by making absolutely no changes in exercise or diet: just sprinkle on a magic powder and voilá! Ten pounds of fat just slid off your body.

Scanning down these insidious ads set off a few bells in my head and got me to thinking. There’s a diet for everyone else, why not for writers? Sitting at a computer for hours on end has probably added a few pounds and inches to most derrieres. Mindless snacking while contemplating a manuscript has surely also contributed to this condition, without mentioning such derogatory terms such as pot belly, thunder thighs, etc.

Before any diet is undertaken, there are certain necessary precautions which are required by law. First of all, do not attempt this or any other diet without first consulting your muse. The best weight loss is slow weight loss. Do not expect to lose ten pounds the first week. There are many diet plans out there. Make sure this is the right one for you. A good diet consists of:

1. Proper nourishment — Toss out all half-eaten bags of salsa-flavored Doritos and Cheese Whiz potato chips. Replace them with new ones. The crunchy texture will help keep you awake while you work on that next chapter.

2. Regular elimination is important. Flush those clichés down the toilet, along with the double entendres. No need to make the reader work his brain any more than he has to.

3. Eat plenty of carrots to
improve your vision. Clear the fog surrounding your characters so you can see them better.

4. Fluid intake is extremely important. Saturate your brain cells with plenty of liquids. Water’s good. So is beer, bourbon, tequila — whatever rings your chimes.

5. Incorporate plenty of greens — cash those royalty checks and treat yourself to something yummy — a grasshopper. (The drink, not the insect.)

6. Oils are vital — Rub suntan oil all over your body if you’re inclined to write while lying on a hammock or a beach towel.

7. Use digestive enzymes on a regular basis. Do not attempt to consume an entire manuscript at one time. Chew each sentence for several minutes, and then add your favorite sweetener. Remember: Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, in a most delightful way.

8. To be a writer, your bones need to be strong and healthy. If calcium doesn’t work, try pulling a few skeletons out of the family closet. Rattle them around and see what shakes loose.

9. If consuming the above leaves a heavy weight in the pit of the stomach, it’s probably a sign to switch over to cooking lite. If all else fails, lean on the “delete” button. Then,

10. Start from scratch — Throw a whole bunch of words together, add a pinch of drama, a handful of suspense, a few shakes of dirt and a couple of squeezes of intrigue. Stir gently. Marinate for twenty-four hours and then edit.

Note: After two weeks on this diet, a writer should have lost several pounds of excess verbiage and hopefully be on the way to a spine-tingling mystery.

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