Monday, March 02, 2009

Great Writing Tips no. 428 - Remember to Eat!

I met my young friend Siege, aka Carlos Malvar, when I attended the British Council's Animating Literature conference in Manila a couple of year's back and he made an impression as a performance poet and really nice guy. Now he is the author of two best selling young adult novels, and he's started a rather good blog called Not So Unreal.

I really like what he wrote about writing and eating! :
Tip to all budding writers out there. Before getting elbow deep into your work, make sure you’re well fed. Never face the blank page on an empty stomach. Hunger pangs are distractions. You don’t want to think about what you’re going to eat while you’re figuring out how to express your character’s fears in 50 words or so using graphic descriptions and gothic settings. Writing is hard work. You’ll get hungry. Eat, eat, eat.

Also, do you know that thinking burns calories? Usually, I watch what I eat. I came from a family cursed with the fat genes on my dad’s side, and with the short genes on my mom’s side… which makes me a hobbit, especially now that I have curly hair, and furry feet. Anyway, I watch what I eat because I tend to get fat more than the usual person, and usually, I try to squeeze in some jogging in my moderately busy lifestyle of watching videos. BUT, when I’m writing intensively, I let myself loose and basically feast on junk food, loads of carbs, heaps and heaps of sugar (via coffee, iced tea, Coke), and whatever I can munch on. It’s OK, I’m writing. I’m running full speed on my mental threadmill.

When you’re writing, you will get very very hungry. This is because you will experience bending time while writing. While you agonize over three paragraphs where nothing happens in your “narrative time” except for one of your characters making himself some coffee, an entire hour may have elapsed in real time. A single page of manuscript may detail nothing but a fleeting moment in your narrative timeline, and you didn’t notice it, but four real time hours have gone by!!! That’s what it’s like to be a writer.
Siege was one of the performance poets invited to take part in the British Council and Apples and Snakes' Speechless poetry project last year, along with others including our own Priya K and Singaporean Pooja Nansi, and under the tutelage of Jacob Sam-la Rose and Malika Booker.

Siege's more personal blog is here. Yeah, he's nuts. So?

Maybe if we all shout loud enough he will be forced to come over to Malaysia and read some of his work for us.


Chet said...

Here's a food related question that's a popular one on the NaNoWriMo forums during the month of November:

What's your favourite writing snack?

Mine's Ngan Yin Menglembu groundnuts.

bibliobibuli said...

nice! nibbly but not messy.

i love that japanese tea made with rice but don't nibble while writing. i do forget to eat sometimes so the old brain gets slower and slower. so i think Siege's advice very valuable.

Chris said...

Great advice! Remember to get up and walk around too, every now and again.

Yusuf Martin said...

Kopi tarik and chicken biscuits - better than Tiger biscuits because you don't have to be careful that they will disintegrate when dunking.

Chet said...

Chicken biscuits? We have something similar called "gai jai ban", literally meaning chicky bikkies. Wonder if they're the same.

bibliobibuli said...

chicken biscuits from kampar.

Anonymous said...

Hang on a minute, Yusuf, you dunk KAMPAR CHICKEN BISCUITS in your kopi tarik?!?!? Really?!? I confine my dunking to sweet biscuits. I actually don't snack at the computer, but I do set great store by my teatime break.

-- Preeta

Yusuf Martin said...

Yes indeed halal chicken biscuits from the CB Red Label Snd Bhd shop in Kampar.

And yes Preeta I dunk chicken biscuits and tiger biscuits, when I have them that is.

Chet no idea but all it says on the label is crunchy chicken biscuits then something I cannot read in Chinese - sorry.

I have to admit I do prefer the soft ones though.

Chet said...

Yusuf - I just googled, and yes, Kampar chicken biscuits is "gai jai ban":

Or as the above article spells it, "kai zhai peng".

It's a fond part of my childhood. I haven't eaten it in years, and when I did, during CNY, I had to ask my sister what it was. The taste was familiar. The reason I didn't remember was cuz the ones I was eating were home-made by a cousin, and were wafer thin.

Sorry, tmi (too much information).

bibliobibuli said...

it's nice information though, Chet.

Anonymous said...

Yes Kampar, but there's lots of other stuff like Shat Kek Ma (whatever is the English term for that) and the crispy sesame ones (can't remember the name for that either.)

I find that I write some things better when I'm hungry, and others better when I'm full.