The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

_________while you sleep!

_____ While You Sleep!

You've seen ads like that, suggesting you can get rich, build muscle, change your personality, or lose weight without effort. The problem is that there is a grain of truth to it. Just a grain, and you have to sort through a lot of b.s. to "get it."

In order to change your life in ANY way, you have to increase your energy.

There are four things necessary to raise energy: stress, nutrition, focus, and rest. Too much or too little of any of these factors, and you will fall apart.

Physically, it is easy to understand this. Stress is exercise, the "trigger" to motivate your body to adapt. Nutrition is healthy food, of course. Focus is a conscious plan of action: "general" fitness seems to be something of a myth. The SAID principle, Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand. In other words, determine the qualities you wish, design a program which will provide those benefits, and get very, very good at that. Rest is both sleep, "off" days, and programmed recovery.

Mentally, this can be harder to understand. Three weeks ago, I learned that my book DEVIL'S WAKE was too long. Stress! I made an immediate decision: to see if it could be divided into two books (the alternative was to cut it down in size.)

So I broke the task into bite-sized chunks. Could it work? How? At what point in the book? I decided there was a natural breaking point, after my characters survive a major ambush, and before they enter into the bizarre world of a George Lucas/L. Ron Hubbard hybrid. Don't ask.

But how to "round" both halve? Wellll...

Nutrition. With mental work, nutrition is input. Research. For a novelist, this is the fun part. Reading post-apocalyptic novels, and watching such films and television. Thinking my way through each character and doing additional research into them, their lives and environments.

Focus. As I said, just taking on one task per day. Not trying to do everything at once.

Rest. Rotating tasks to work on different projects, which is like rotating upper/lower body days at the gym. Getting PLENTY of sleep (most people with energy problems have a huge bleeding wound right here. They need look no further for their answer.) And, hey...doing more "research" going to see movies, read books and luxuriate in the world of my very favorite world.

As a result, we turned in book #1, DEVIL'S WAKE last week. And this week, the second book DOMINO FALLS. With thousands of words of new text, changed information, tweaked characters, and modified action arcs. We are VERY happy with the books, and I'm even happier with the process.

Where do YOU need growth? Where do YOU need energy? Follow this model, and thrive!


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