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zunna

My writing suffers with Whole 30

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I went 15 days on Whole 30. I did not eat the sweet potatoes or any fruit. On day 14 I wasn't hungry and only ate two small meals, and on day 15 I was starving and fell off the wagon. I had red wine, nachos....What I noticed was that after that slip my writing really improved. While I was doing the program, it was as though the well was dry!

I'm guessing that my serotonin dipped without the carbs from sweet pototoes and fruit. I want to restart but also want to continue with my fiction writing.

Any thoughts on this?

Thanks so much for any ideas.

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Likely the wine (my guess, unlikely to have anything to do with serotonin, though I could be mistaken about that). Your inhibitions were loosened up, and in consequence you were able to write. As you go through the W30, you (naturally enough) are evaluating yourself, and also not going to food and drinking to sooth difficult feelings; for both of these reasons, the inner critic gets to going on you. You've set yourself a hard task, but my guess is that likely as you go through this, you'll have a breakthrough in your writing as well. Do a little every day, even if it's crap (or seems like crap to you) and it will naturally integrate along with the other new habits. You might also like Carolyn See's book, Making a Literary Life, if you don't know it. (Warning: very funny but pretty vulgar, if you don't care for that.)

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Add in some sweet potatoes and see what happens?

I don't know about the serotonin/creativity thing, but if you feel like you're feeling suboptimal because you're not eating the recommended amount of carbs, then eat the carbs. Problem solved!

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I don't understand why you did not eat sweet potatoes and fruit. The Whole30 does not restrict carbs. In fact, we encourage you to eat as many carbs as you need to feel and perform well.

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The reason I restricted carbs was because I was under the influence of The Bigger Hammer Theory. If cutting back a little is good, then cutting back a whole bunch is even better! My characters in my book have been standing around with nothing to do as a result of my poor judgement. I'm going to add back in the sweet potatoes and fruit today. I hope that will fuel my writing as well as my body.

Thanks for the quick responses everyone. It seems rather obvious to me now.

Z

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Oh. The bigger hammer theory is a big problem around here. It is hard to convince people they can make more progress tapping with a small hammer than swinging a sledge hammer. Maybe that can be part of your plot development. B)

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Yes, adjust and stick with it!

The ease and quality of my own writing fluctuates from day to day, Whole30 or no, and I think that improving my overall health can only improve my writing. That's what I'm hoping...

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This is a really interesting post!

I find that my writing changes with Whole30s... it doesn't necessarily suffer, but I become a much calmer person (I'm no longer the angst-full, tortured artist) and my writing also becomes calmer, yet able to go deeper.

Like you've already decided, eat sweet potatoes! (and winter squashes and pumpkin and fruit if you choose). Carbs are good.

Have your characters considered their favorite foods or struggled with the complicated family situation of turning down a pie bought "especially for them?" Do they need to meet a farmer or go to a slaughterhouse or hunt an elk or harvest a road-kill deer? :lol: Perhaps one of your characters realizes he has a gluten allergy and THAT is what triggered his aleopecia (losing his hair) but at the same time he is a lobbyist for the wheat industry...

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There was a thread on Paleohacks about this recently too! (can't find it at the moment but it was basically someone saying "I switched to Paleo where has my writing mojo gone?") I also find that I have 0 creativity when I eat compliant (even with moderate carb from fruit and sweet potatoes). The only time I can write is when I go completely off track and binge (history of binge eating...long story). I'm fine writing nonfiction on Paleo, but the creativity/inspiration for any kind of fiction or poetry just disappears and comes back with the first bite of ice cream.

I have no idea why this is but it really stinks :(

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There was a thread on Paleohacks about this recently too! (can't find it at the moment but it was basically someone saying "I switched to Paleo where has my writing mojo gone?") I also find that I have 0 creativity when I eat compliant (even with moderate carb from fruit and sweet potatoes). The only time I can write is when I go completely off track and binge (history of binge eating...long story). I'm fine writing nonfiction on Paleo, but the creativity/inspiration for any kind of fiction or poetry just disappears and comes back with the first bite of ice cream.

I have no idea why this is but it really stinks :(

Sounds like it has something to do with your emotional state. Perhaps you feel deprived (conscious or subconscious) during a Whole30 and that takes you to a blocked or stunted place. Or, perhaps you have (again, conscious or unconscious) writing rituals surrounding food (I have one with little candies like Jelly Bellies, Skittles or candy corn that I've worked damn hard to break).

I find my concentration, productivity and mental energy much improved while eating W30 style, but there are little habits I've had to break.

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This is kind of what I was getting at up above. There's something about tapping into the creative place that feels like it requires certain things (or so it often has to me)--ice cream, wine, lots of coffee, cigarettes, a new boyfriend, etc. The buzz from certain foods sure seems to help--but I don't think it's impossible to get there while eating and treating oneself well--more likely just that one is a lot more aware of all the little voices when there's no Pepperidge Farm or Jameson's to calm them down.

We should all do a Write30 and see what happens.

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ScoutFinch, I've been thinking about your comment... and Golden, your tying NaNoWriMo in. I've read NoPlot! NoProblem!, and one thing I noticed when I read it was the references to late night snacks and lots of coffee being a requirement of writing a book or taking part in a NaNoWriMo.

It's an interesting question... does creativity require stimulants and constant irritation of the body?

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I think that the reduction in the fun carbs reduces serotonin, and that does something to creativity. I think there is a real physiological reponse - or lack of one going on. What I wonder is when/if it comes back?

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I think that the reduction in the fun carbs reduces serotonin, and that does something to creativity.

Definitely agree - glucose is the brain's favorite food so it makes perfect sense to me that foods high in glucose (=simple carbs like candy) would give you kind of a mental "boost" (weren't there a bunch of studies a while back that students studied longer and harder when they had candy?)

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Definitely agree - glucose is the brain's favorite food so it makes perfect sense to me that foods high in glucose (=simple carbs like candy) would give you kind of a mental "boost" (weren't there a bunch of studies a while back that students studied longer and harder when they had candy?)

But eating candy jacks up your glucose levels for a little, and then you crash. I don't think glucose is good for your brain or for creativity. I think it's more like, writers have become psychologically accustomed to writing when they are in certain mental states. If I became more hormonally balanced through eating healthfully and had a steadier mood, I'd have to get used to approaching writing as a craft I do when I feel fine, not one I do when I'm stressed about a deadline, or tired and forcing myself to, or buzzing from caffeine or sugar or alcohol. It'd be like busting the myth of the tortured artist from the inside out.

I've found I write the best stuff, both music and fiction, when I feel intensely excited about something, either a life epiphany I've had, or an ambitious creative goal I've set for myself. I've never been one to find productivity through ingesting junk food or the like.

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Very interesting topic. I find thoughts flow when someone has pissed me off. I'm fairly laid back so I don't get this overflowing of thought too often. About the third week of my first W30, I was really able to turn inward for inspiration. There was a calmer, deeper tone to my writing. I don't write for public view, but have journaled since high school. I noticed that by not having a candy bar or glass of wine as an escape, I had to really look at what was going on inside my crazy head. I find that I get that bubbly, give me something to write with now feeling at the weirdest times. It comes from a place of happiness rather than anger or angst.

Eat the carbs. I eat an apple, banana and sweet potatoe/squash/turnip etc. every day. The amount of food I eat is ridiculous. If I let myself slip into old calorie/fat counting habits I would probably freak out.

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If you just take alcohol (and then factor in the bajillions of us for whom sugar might as well be liquor), it's a well-observed thing to believe that when you're loaded, you're doing great work. For absolutely sure feeling like the impulse gates have been let down leads to, or can lead to, feeling more free to do the work. But often often often you look back at what you did at that point and it turns out to be, if not outright bad, not very impressive work, or not very different work than you would have done sober.

I am convinced that it's very possible to develop new habits and rituals that don't have anything to do with food that will let writers and artists access the inner permission to get started and to be fully creative. For myself, I know for sure that when I feel clear and well, my work is far better, if not as easy to get to.

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I've been fascinated with this threa since it started- I'm glad it got bumped.

I notice a big change in my art making since adding animal fats (I had been very low fat, vegan, raw, fasting, or vegetable fats only for years prior) about 3 years ago. Suddenly, the impulsivity that drive my work was gone. When I went off gluten 7 months ago I legitimately worried I would never be an artist again. I had been living in a chronic "fight or flight" mode for much of my life and becoming calm and centered has taken some time to get used to. Now my artistic drive has returned and the kind of work I am making is much more planned out. I finally have the patience to work out a concept on paper before diving right in and settling for happy accidents. I've also found it easier to abandon a method that isn't working out instead of just barreling through. I think it's good. I like this feeling.

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I notice a big change in my art making since adding animal fats (I had been very low fat, vegan, raw, fasting, or vegetable fats only for years prior) about 3 years ago. Suddenly, the impulsivity that drive my work was gone.

This makes a whole lot of sense to me. It's the impulsivity that's compromised, not necessarily the writing or art making itself.

I used to always binge eat when I was working on deadline--usually crunchy things. I would eat everything I could get my hands on until it was gone or I was so numbed out I could write. In retrospect, it's ridiculous, and I'm so glad I kicked it. But binging is about impulse--and not controlling impulse. I would argue that the creative process doesn't have to be about impulse. I think that model suggests writing isn't work, which, honestly, it is.

Though for me there is a difference in creating new material and editing material. I do have to plug in to something larger than myself and shut out the world in order to create new material. Editing relies more on straight up work ethic.

I haven't played with this too much, but I can only think that having a healthier body and more balanced hormones can only help my writing in the long run.

I'm on Day 11 of my first Whole30, and I am noticing a kind of calm and lack of intensity. I've been addicted to intensity my whole life. But that doesn't mean I no longer have anything to say.

This is super interesting food for thought! Thanks for raising it.

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Yeah, I always thought I wrote my best when I was hungover. (No filter.) I've also had some amazing photo sessions hungover, not to mention the creative push that comes from mania. (I have bi-polar type II.)

But I do pretty well when I have some clean energy and confidence that comes from eating well and taking care of myself. It's the closest thing to mania I can feel, without the sides of self-destruction and relationship implosion. I feel like I can watch the self-doubting thoughts float by instead of getting buried by them.

You might just be experiencing part of the general brain fog that happens when transitioning from sugar-burning to fat-burning, detoxing from whatever SAD elements were in your pre W30 diet. It took me over five weeks when I quit sugar and grains in Feb but suddenly I got hit with this crazy wave of energy and I sat down and started writing like a fiend--and I've had anxiety-based writing issues for years. (Haven't gotten that rush yet in my W30, I'm on Day 18, but I'm looking forward to it.)

And yeah, angst-filled writing: zzzzzzzzzz.

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