Given it’s Easter Sunday, the special day that so many of us give over to stuffing ourselves senseless with chocolate, we now aptly arrive at gluttony in our series of The Seven Deadly Sins.
Sarah Jasmon is the author of the atmospheric The Summer of Secrets, and is also, as you’ll see, a world-class authority on why writing and eating go together like tea and biscuits.
Gluttony, huh? Glut-to-ny. When you’re a writer, you’ll find that, as soon as you sit down to start writing, you’ll start to feel a craving for something. A cup of tea, perhaps, and maybe a biscuit. Then another. Then you’ll start to wonder if you should have a quick sandwich. After all, everyone knows that brainwork uses up a whole load of calories. After you’ve stopped for lunch, you go back to your desk to get a few more words down. With a bowl of mixed nuts to hand, or those jelly babies that you found the other day at the back of the cupboard. Or all of the snacks that wouldn’t fit in your son’s rucksack when he went on his last Duke of Edinburgh expedition…
I have been known to go shopping the day before a long writing session purely to stock up on rice cakes, because they at least mean I can eat and write and not grow out of all of my jeans before I reach chapter thirty-three. Ok, chapter three. It’s partly about distraction. When I was a student, I smoked roll-ups so that I had an excuse to stop writing at regular intervals. Now I fill that space with carrot sticks and bananas. Ok, chocolate biscuits. I’ve already used up most of my willpower stopping myself from spending all of my writing time on Facebook and Twitter. There’s nothing left to stand in the way of constant eating.
Last week, I was away on a writing retreat and realised just how Pavlovian the writer’s eating habit is. My chosen spot to work at was the table in the sitting room, with beautiful views out over the North Yorkshire moors and nothing to do except write. Dotted around the house were other writers, each busy with their own creative process. As soon as one writer broke and headed for the kitchen, others would appear, alerted by the chink of a mug, the click of the kettle, the rustle of wrappers. We can’t help ourselves.
Don’t fight it. You can always start running as a diversion when the editing process kicks in.