(A new plan from fabulous guest poster Hélène Boudreau)
Do you suffer from writer’s butt? Is your waistline expanding in direct proportion to your word count? Don’t worry; help is on its way.
Just like those extra pounds that plague freshmen in their first years of college, the First Draft 15™ is the near inevitable by-product of parking your tushie in a chair for the innumerable hours it takes to pound out a novel.
And is it any wonder? There’s the snacking, the sipping and the hours upon hours of near immobility as you put one word in front of the other. Now, perhaps you’re one of those hateful, naturally-thin whippets and this isn’t a problem for you *daggers* but for the rest of us, the First Draft 15™ is as unavoidable as paper cuts and chocolate stains down the front of our shirts.
But, how do we arrive at the First Draft 15™ value, you might ask? Well, let’s do the math. When I write a first draft, I can usually eke out about 500 words an hour (breakneck speed, I know…). My upcoming novel is about 45,000 words long.
500 words/hr x A hours = 45,000 words
Where A= 90 hours (thank you, calculator icon in my sidebar).
90 hours. Really?
It seemed WAY longer than that. Though, that doesn’t take into account all of the other hours when I just stared out into space, recalculating the distance from my chair to the fridge in metric and standard units.
But, nonetheless, those hours add up and they equal to the amount of time when your metabolic rate approaches zero. Cause, let’s get real: despite the fact that your fingers are busy, busy, busy, tapping out your masterpiece, those small muscle movements, astonishingly repetitive as they may be, aren’t doing much to maximize your aerobic output.
Your First Draft value might be 3 or 5 or 10 lbs but…my own personal metabolic equation is, 90 hours to the power of cheese divided by a variable and AMAZINGLY (or maybe not) this ALWAYS equals 15 lbs for me.
90 hours cheese = 15 lbs
The variable (B) is, um, variable for each writer. Your variable might be fancy Starbuck’s coffee or salty carbohydrates. Mine happens to be cheap chocolate.
I’m not gonna lie. I gained my initial First Draft 15™ quite a few years ago and wear it with pride but writing 2-3 books a year has the potential to add up (but, I won’t bore you with the math. I PROMISE.).
So, herein, I’ve come up with a few handy tips for writers to deal with the First Draft 15™(or not).
TIP #1: Choose low-fat/no-fat alternatives: This just makes good dietary sense. Cheese is still cheese, even if it’s made with skim milk. Plus, with the calories you save, you can cut the slab nice and thick and add a cracker. This makes for a more satisfying snack, necessitating fewer trips to the cheese block, ergo, increasing your writing productivity. And, isn’t that what we all want in the end?
A cautionary note about crumbs: for each crumb dropped, you decrease your overall intake, but you also increase the incidence of ‘whydoesn’tmyspacebarwork?’.
Practice safe snacking and always keep a source of compressed air handy for such occasions. For stubborn cases, view:
TIP #2: Don’t Drink Your Calories: Yes, yes…we all know that a can of Mountain Dew has enough calories to power a light bulb for six days and I suppose we should talk about that, but, even more concerning is the potential electrical hazard of drinking while typing. So, in the spirit of preserving your hard drive—instead of drinking your calories, I suggest hands-free, gravity-fed consumption for best results.
TIP #3: ‘Exercise’ is Not a Four Letter Word: In fact, ‘exercise’ is an EIGHT letter word. I haven’t crunched the numbers but it stands to reason that using exceptionally (13 letters) long words in your manuscript has the potential of increasing your calorie burn by as much as 63%. (Oops, I promised we wouldn’t do any more math…) Yes, I know I said that typing has negligible aerobic benefits but the numbers don’t lie.
So, there you have it; easy, practical tips you can implement RIGHT NOW to deal with (or not) your First Draft 15™.
* Results may vary.
** First Draft 15™ is not a registered trademark but the ™ just looks more official and adds credibility. Kind of.
*** I don’t have a third postscript. Just wanted to thank you for reading until the very end. If you are my agent or editor and you are reading this, I apologize for the chocolate stains on my last revision.
Hélène Boudreau fully accepts the realities of the First Draft 15™ though struggles daily to strike a balance between her love of cheese and cheap chocolate and marathon walk training in order to avoid the Fifteenth Draft 50™. She is the author of the upcoming tween novel, REAL MERMAIDS DON’T WEAR TOE RINGS, Jabberwocky, December/ 2010. You can visit her at www.heleneboudreau.com