Operation: A Novel Diet


Earlier last month I developed something of a strategy for plugging through my creative writing endeavors.  As of now, that largely consists of my seventh and most probable novel attempt to date: ‘Doubting Puppet’.  But, between my own lack of discipline, direction, and motive, I was running behind on my prose work.  As such, in a stroke of inspiration both brilliant and asinine, I created a “Diet” that demanded my attention as an aspiring author.  It came to me one night while I was trying to sleep (the darnedest and most frequent time for these things) and I started making rules/conditions, which I would then apply to my life a couple days later.

The basic premise: I can only eat as many calories one day as the number of words I wrote the day before.

Don’t misunderstand the intention of this idea.  I like food.  My goal is to eat food.  Therefore, calling this a “diet” isn’t completely accurate, but for now that’s its moniker.  The goal is to write more, at the cost of food.  And, with a few modifications along the way, it has worked.  My average prior to 02/16, when I started the diet, was roughly 400 words.  As you can see, it’s jumped tremendously.

02/14 – 857 words
02/15 – 232 words (+Editing in preparation)
02/16 – 1400 words approx. (Begin Operation)
02/17 – 1500 words approx.
02/18 – 1200 words approx.
02/19 – 187 words (Inhibited by work)
02/20 – 1,124 words
02/21 – 2,446 words
02/22 – 800 words
02/23 – 1,840 words
02/24 – 1,430 words
02/25 – 600 words approx (Inhibited by work)
02/26 – 650 words approx (Inhibited by work)
02/27 – 2,200 words approx.
02/28 – 750 words approx.
03/01 – 1,519 words
03/02 – (Forgot to record, but approximately 800 words)
03/03 – 2,250 words
03/04 – 1,124 words
03/05 – 0 words (Inhibited by work, birthday, and surprise friend)
03/06 – 0 words (Inhibited by work)

I went into the operation with a fully realized expectation that this was just a prototype.  As such, near the beginning I wasn’t as strict on myself.  I needed to leave room for the idea to adapt and flesh itself out.  Here are the conditions that have come out of that:

  1. If I work out for at least 30 minutes on one day, I may add 300 calories to my count for the next day.  This number does not change if I work out more than 30 minutes, yet I want a solid workout, so I am encouraged to not waste time in the gym.
  2. The calorie count doesn’t apply to a couple select drinks.  Water, Milk and Orange Juice (because screw the system, I love orange juice) do not subtract from the calorie count, while things like soda, energy drinks, and other high-sugar juices might.  This was established since the beginning.
  3. Regarding condiments.  Because you cannot accurately judge the calorie count of condiments (or say, a chopped pepper) these, in small amounts, will not detract from the calorie count.  If there are large sums of either of these, then use your best judgment.  I’m not going to break this down into a science, since the focus is supposed to be on writing more, not wasting time counting every little calorie.
  4. On a more complicated level, calorie counts may be stockpiled or ‘saved’ in a bank (I document these things).  Say I have a friend coming from out of town.  We’re probably going to be hanging out a lot and eating out a few times.  Not a whole lot of writing is likely to get done, and eating out means a lot of calories.  At the end of a day, if I have unspent calories on my quota, I may choose to put them into this bank for later use.  Also, as a contingency, the bank STARTS with a 1,000 calorie deposit at the beginning of the diet (this concept was added after a week of prototyping).  This is intended for emergencies when you aren’t able to get any writing done on any day.  From testing the diet personally, I’ve also determined that it is wise to dedicate all or at least half of the first day into the bank as well, since you’re almost certain to run into complications and it will provide extra buffering for later.
  5. As general principle, and for raw simplicity, the daily diet routine works on a strict 00:00-00:00 time standard.  That means my calorie count for the day starts at midnight and ends when midnight comes again.  Anything left over is put into the bank, and any words written after midnight transfer to the next day’s calorie count.

Because of a sudden spike in work hours and a rogue friend coming to visit without much warning, I have not gotten much writing done the last couple of days.  That’s okay.  That’s what the bank is for, even if I’m expecting to be bankrupt by the end of the day tomorrow.  Again, this is largely experimental and subject to further modification, but I do feel mildly brilliant for coming up with it.  Because I try to eat healthy, this has kept my diet regulated and has snuffed out overindulgence, while keeping me future oriented.  As with any commitment, it requires dedication.  The diet isn’t overly strict, so it doesn’t feel like there’s much backlash or negativity associated with it.  If anything, the program has made life a little more interesting and exciting.  Plus, if things go according to plan, Doubting Puppet will be done before long.  So that’s cool.