Back to Back Issues Page
Metaphorical diet and exercise: Editor's Notes #394
June 28, 2023

A perfectly healthy sentence, it is true, is extremely rare.
For the most part we miss the hue and fragrance of the thought; as if we could be satisfied with the dews of the morning or evening without their colors, or the heavens without their azure.

—Henry David Thoreau

In this issue:

1. Metaphorical diet and exercise for writers
2. Tickled my funny bone
3. Interesting Web site
4. Writing prompt
5. Letters to the editor

1.Metaphorical diet and exercise for writers
Anything my doctor diagnoses these days can be held at bay by diet and exercise. The diets may differ, and specific exercises can change with the problem being addressed, but it’s clear that I sometimes eat things I shouldn’t, avoid some things I should eat more of, and need to move more.

I’m suggesting here that writers also need to diet and exercise to be better writers. Instead of focusing on nutrition and physical strength and endurance, this issue deals with metaphorical diet and exercise.

First, the diet part, not food dieting, but writing dieting. Many writers have some troublesome habits when it comes to writing. Some are addicted to particular sentence structures. Some have quirky grammatical tastes. Some don’t have enough variety in the voices in their characters. And most of us need to cut down on the number of words we use to get the job done.

In the nutrition department, there are lots of places we can go to find out what sort of diet is best for whatever ails us. Food guides abound. When it comes to writing, we may need some help to notice what we are overdoing or what could be added to our writing menu to good advantage. In the last issue, I wrote about places we can go to improve our writing. If you missed it, it’s archived just for you.

The point here is to take stock of your writing. Do some aspects of writing trip you up repeatedly? Being aware is the first step. Next, create a plan to do more of the things that make your writing better and less of those that bog you down. Dieters often have written plans. As a writing dieter, you may find posting reminders to yourself about the things you want to change keeps you on track. Check up on yourself periodically. Are you sticking to your plan? Is the plan working?

Physically, exercise is one of the best things we can do for ourselves. It keeps us healthy physically, mentally, and emotionally. Some exercises improve strength, some build up endurance, some increase agility. The point is to do the exercise. Knowing is not enough. Sidebar: Long ago, I bought a small booklet whose title promised I would lose weight and be healthier in some relatively small number of days. The first words were, "The exercises in this book will work only if you do them." I was busted.

Exercise conditions our bodies to do things we want and need to do beyond the exercise itself. Writing exercise is the same. Even if you have no specific writing project to work on, write to strengthen your writing ability. You can write aimlessly or you can write with purpose. Either way, every time you write, you are more inclined to believe you are a writer because you have proof in front of you. Not everything you write has to be publishable. In fact, most of it probably won’t be. But as you write, you reach different conscious and subconscious wells. You clarify your own thoughts. You learn to find the kernel of wisdom and how to remove the dross from your expression.

With the right diet and exercise, your writing improves. You feel better about it, and others notice its power and beauty.

2.Tickled my funny bone
Church bulletin strikes again:
Attend and you will hear an excellent speaker and heave a healthy lunch.

3. Interesting Web site
Writing is usually a sedentary activity, and writers often have to remind themselves to get up and move. The Mayo Clinic offers seven reasons to exercise. Can you make any links or contrasts between the benefits of physical exercise the Mayo Clinic offers and benefits to doing writing exercises?

4. Writing prompt
This issue uses a metaphor to make some points about writing. Metaphors challenge the writer to clarify thinking and to poke into corners of the mind that may not have been accessible otherwise. This writing prompt suggests that you create your own metaphor on any topic you choose. Look around or inside you for something that strikes your attention. What can you compare it to? Write out your metaphor, trying to get at least three points of comparison between the trigger and the topic. I would love to see your work.

5. Letters to the editor
Jack Popjes responded to the opening quote of the last issue.

Hi Audrey,

"Unprovided with original learning, unformed in the habits of thinking, unskilled in the arts of composition,  I resolved to write a book."
—Edward Gibbon

No wonder that with such handicaps he wrote only 1.5 million words, (the book is still in print nearly 300 years later.)
I guess there is hope for me yet,
Jack Popjes

Join Writer's Helper Facebook page at
Follow me on Twitter @AudreytheEditor

Link on LinkedIn (Email me first so I know how you know me.)

If you know a writer who would appreciate receiving Editor's Notes, forward this issue.

If someone has passed this on to you, you can get your own free subscription by signing up at

Back to Back Issues Page