To celebrate Kill Your Darlings’ new website, we’ve asked some of our favourite contributors from past years to reflect on their early writing experiences and share their top tips for emerging writers.
First up, we hear from Benjamin Law. Benjamin’s work can be found in KYD #2 (‘Latecomers, You’re All Right: Discovering Music after Everyone Else’) and #11 (‘Dudes’ Pubes: The Virtues of Completely Hairless Tackle’).
One of things I’ve discovered about writing is that it’s basically an endurance sport. Most days you’re at your desk, not moving anything – except your brain and your fingers – and you do this for hours. In its own way, writing for a job is brutalising, like doing extreme pilates, except with less active wear and more stains and crying.
It’s no wonder a lot of us end with RSI, heinous postures, sore backs and endless appointments with physiotherapists, chiropractors, osteopaths, massage therapists and acupuncturists. (Yes, I’ve tried them all.)
So I have two bits of advice for writers:
1: Audit your workspace. If you can afford a standing desk, get one. (It won’t save your life, but it will save your posture and a lot of back pain.) Or do what I did and go to a junkyard shop and get a beaten-up kitchen bench that’s the height of your elbows when standing up. Stack your computer on old books until the centre of the monitor is directly in your eyeline. Alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day.
2: Exercise. I know this makes me sound like those nauseating coaches on The Biggest Loser, but trust me on this one: exercise not only affords you time to get away from your writing, but potentially improves it. If you schedule in exercise – even if it’s just a half hour walk to the shops – at a scheduled time, your brain will clear, and you’ll return to your writing with clarity and focus.