It’s Sunday night, the sky is thick with black clouds, the rain has been relentless all day and seagulls are screaming outside even though the sea is a couple of miles away. It’s summer in Northern Ireland.
I’ve gone through a lot of fitness cycles over the years, but nothing has lasted and honestly I don’t have the motivation to rack up 70-80 miles a week running the way I have in the past.
I’ve finally realised that I can eat faster than my body can exercise and if I want to get to a healthy, happy weight I’m going to have to sort out my diet.
Starvation, denial, or restrictive diets don’t work. Not just for me but for nearly everyone it seems. I need meals that aren’t a pain the arse to make, fill me up enough to keep away the urge to snack, zap me with enough energy to take on the day and have lots of taste.
Bad Breakfast to Good Breakfast
I’m tackling breakfast first. It’s the meal that messes up my day with too many carbs and sugars processed into cereals, jams, or breakfast bars when I’ve been rushing about. All things that spike my sugar levels so I’m continually topping them up for the rest of the day in a vain attempt to stave off the blood-sugar crash.
Here’s my new go-to breakfast.
- 2 x bell peppers cut into thin(ish) slices (any colour – I buy the big value bag in the supermarket, the ones that are mostly green).
- A big handful of crushed mushrooms (I’ve just sliced up a load of peppers, and it’s easier to just crush the mushrooms)
- 125ml of Egg White (I buy the cartons of them)
- Feta Cheese
- Put the sliced peppers into a frying pan with a drizzle of olive oil and knob of butter (heh, knob). Fry them for a few minutes until they are warmed through and coated with the oil and butter.
- Add the mushrooms and fry until the mushrooms are cooked through. (if you put the mushrooms in before the peppers are warm and coated the little fungus bastards soak up all the olive oil and butter).
- Shake the cooked but still crunchy veg and mushrooms onto a plate and pour your egg white into the still warm frying pan on a low heat. Crumble feta cheese over the cooking eggs. Make an omelette if it doesn’t stick or scramble the eggs if they do.
- When cooked fold (or spoon) the eggs over the peppers and mushrooms and finish off with a big helping of homemade salsa (Whiz up the zest and juice of a lime, a chili, 750g of fresh tomatoes and a big pinch of salt in a blender).
- Serve with a huge glass of ice water and a cup of tea.
- Done. You will feel full but not bloated and not feel hungry until lunchtime.
(This is harsh but comes with a lot of love)
Two of the most tedious things on earth are listening to writers about either of these two things*
- Explaining, in detail, their unfinished novel (and when I say unfinished I mean anything that has not gone through rewrites, professional editing, formatting and is available for me to buy when they’ve piqued my interest). Stop telling me about it and fuck off and finish it.
- Moaning about how financially difficult it is to be a writer.
I get the first one. I’ve done it. You get all excited about the idea and want to tell people about it for some instant gratification and don’t realise that you’re draining the power of the story with every telling and letting others guide it with their expressions of delight or suggestions of how to improve. It’s a rookie mistake easily fixed.
But please stop being the ‘starving artist’. All your other writer friends already know how hard it is and all you’re doing is adding to their misery. Your non-writer friends don’t care, wish you would shut up and will suggest you get a ‘real’ job if you don’t stop going on about it.
It’s simple. If you’re not making enough money from writing, find ways to spend less and earn more until you do. Go over your budget, cut out the stuff you don’t need, find ways to get the stuff you do for less and if worse comes to worst, get a job to help pay the bills until your audience builds up.
The job doesn’t have to suck. The rise of online sales and marketing is exploding. The need for writers capable of writing good ad copy is expanding. Advertising is telling a story so good it makes the target audience want to buy it and who better to do that than a writer? Even better is that platforms like WordPress, Google adwords, and Facebook Ads are making it affordable for small businesses to reach big audiences very cost effectively so more of them are reaching out for help in creating their marketing content. Job searches online, going to local business networking meetings or putting ads up on local marketplace sites will quickly bring in paying work, let you keep your flexible working hours and allow you to pick and choose what work you take on.
And that’s only one option.
There are a lot of others and that’s not including the grants and bursaries available for writers. Don’t moan about how hard it is to be a writer. It’s far better to be thankful you have that spark inside you and use the energy to find ways to keep on creating and paying the bills. Sometimes it means taking jobs you hate (stacking toilet rolls into a giant toilet roll mountain) but lots of people have to do that and don’t have what you have to escape and be something different.
I will stop being a grumpy old man now.
*Excludes writers groups, beta reader feedback sessions or waving your arms at your editor because they don’t understand your brilliance transcends spelling, grammar, genre, and common sense.