Featured Writer on Wellness: Jeri Walker

Filed in Uncategorized by on February 22, 2017 • views: 4413

Jeri WalkerWorking from a home office has equaled some weight gain due to lower activity levels, but I do use the apps My Fitness Pal and Runtastic to track daily calories when I want to lose a few pounds.

It’s easy to delude one’s self and not think about how unhealthy some foods are, so such apps provide much-needed reminders. Indeed, a slice of heaven from the Cheesecake Factory can harbor a thousand calories! Even though I live a life of moderation, I also allow myself to indulge on occasion.

Eye strain has been my one nagging ailment. Other than that, I’ve always been quite healthy. Even when I taught high school English and was around tons of germs, I rarely got sick.

As someone who has always been fairly active due to outdoor pursuits, I make some form of exercise a daily priority because it simply makes me feel better in both body and mind. I’ve found it’s also important to have a bedtime routine (such as drinking herbal tea) and forgoing screen time at least an hour before bed.

What’s the Best Modification a Writer Can Make to Her Home Office?

The best investment I have made has been setting up a larger monitor that I connect to my laptop when I work at my desk.

A couple of years ago, I had issues with blurry vision. It turned out the downward cast of my eyes at my desk toward my laptop monitor was responsible for the strain. Now that I type and look forward instead of down, the strain on my eyes has been greatly alleviated.

I also prefer to use a wireless mouse with a built-in scroll wheel when working at my desk rather than my laptop’s touchpad. Navigating through pages of text when making edits and revisions goes much more smoothly that way.

On the other hand, I’m glad my FitBit broke. I used one for about a year. The shift of our society to need to track and quantify so much is an interesting phenomenon. When it came to using a FitBit, it seemed counterproductive and a waste of energy to need to be reminded by a device that I was being mobile. The apps I mentioned above are used in more of a ballpark capacity.

A Major Challenge for Writers: Motivation

The main emotional challenge I typically face in my creative writing is motivation. Becoming successful as a writer requires a long-term commitment, and the payoff between slaving over a piece of writing and getting it published is a sizable span of time.

I do better now that I focus on writing for a certain number of hours each week, rather than on reaching a daily word count. Little by little, those words do add up.

I made the happy mistake of starting an author blog way too soon. I blogged about teaching, writing, and traveling. I had no focus, no experience, and no plan. Yet, I am never one to give up.

Once I started posting critical book reviews, the editing requests began. I took to the demands of blogging with the frequent deadlines and rewards of cultivating an engaged community of readers. It helps that I am also technologically inclined.

The uncertainty of slogging through writing a novel still daunts me, but I’d like to say I’ve written at least one. I am much more motivated as a blogger than an aspiring novelist.

Now I know if I can carve out a full-time living for myself as a digital nomad with my editing business, I can certainly do the same with my writing. I needed to learn that lesson in a roundabout way!

Ultimately, I see myself living in an RV and making a living by blogging about alternative lifestyles. That’s years away at this point, but the initial planning is taking place.

Hiking to Sawtooth Lake.

Hiking to Sawtooth Lake.

How Writers Can Improve Their Focus

I read how-to or self-help books on a semi-regular basis, and Dan Harris’s book 10% Happier acted as the catalyst for me to get more serious about becoming a more mindful person. I am gradually making meditation a greater part of my daily practice.

There can be so much going on in our lives, that we lose focus of what’s important.

Cristen Iris, the national chapter director of the Nonfiction Author’s Association (NFAA) and leader of its Boise chapter, introduced our group to the FOCUS Challenge. The acronym stands for “focus on one course until success.” My most recent monthly goal was to research local and regional publications that practice editorial discretion. I will focus on submitting short pieces of writing to titles on that list this year.

Word BankIn the early days of Word Bank Editing & Writing, I was also fortunate enough to work with Susan Cooper as my career coach. The saying “fake it until you make it” goes a long way in life. Plus, when I would get down on myself, she reinforced the value of following the 80/20 rule. One day a week might run off course, but the other four are still salvageable.

It took me a long time to be able to apply that to my business practices and my writing.

When Your Life Turns Upside Down, Take a Risk

My darkest moment was when my former husband literally walked out the front door of the house and never came back.

I was only freelancing part-time at that point, and it was emotionally taxing and embarrassing to be a woman in the position of not being able to fully support myself.

My tattoo just after it was done.

My tattoo just after it was done.

I resisted the urge to go back to teaching. Luckily, I did have the recommended six months of living expenses saved up, so I took the risk.

I will never get past what happened, but I am stronger for it. And wiser. Only after he left did I realize how shaped I’d been by growing up with a severely bipolar mother to pick someone like him at nineteen years of age to spend half of my life with.

I celebrated my fortieth birthday last October by getting my first tattoo. I picked the word “resilient” set in an old typewriter font.

I’ve Given Myself Permission to Go with My Natural Inclinations

I am one of the most self-disciplined people I know. Once I put my mind to something, I inevitably accomplish it.

I’m the type of writer who hates to write, but loves what I have written. The words rarely flow from my fingertips.

By nature, I am an editor. Try as I might not to self-edit as I write, I can’t seem to break the habit. Rather than fight that inclination, I’ve finally given myself permission to go with it.

Advice for a Young Writer: Become a Good Business Person

The hardest part of being a creative person or a sole proprietor is setting realistic expectations and goals.

We all have dreams of grandeur when it comes to being successful. In this day and age, it is possible to be a successful independent artist or entrepreneur, but with that possibility comes great responsibility.

For some, the act of creation is enough no matter how large the audience. But in order to reach a larger audience with one’s work, it’s necessary to become a good business person. Like it or not.

* * *

Jeri Walker is a freelance editor and writer offering incomparable quality at affordable rates. She believes in making every word count. Her creative writing is influenced by a stranger-than-fiction life story. She is currently submitting short pieces for publication. You can connect with her via Word Bank Writing & Editing at JeriWB.com or browse her books. She is also on Facebook and Twitter.

The Two YosemitesThe Two Yosemites: The iconic beauty of California’s Yosemite National Park lures nearly four million visitors per year. Most flock to the seven-square miles of the valley floor. Few make it into the backcountry. Even then, it can be next to impossible to find solitude during the summer months.

This travelogue recounts the highs and (mostly) lows of the author’s visit as she seeks to discover the version of Yosemite not all tourists pursue. The results raise the question: What type of tourist are you?

Consider this travel memoir a cautionary tale of expectation versus reality in honor of the National Park Service Centennial.

Available at Amazon.

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Comments (38)

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  1. David B says:

    Thanks, Jeri
    Much agreed on the larger screen at eye level. I would add – make it a quality screen. Some screens are designed for other things or are cheaper and have a softer focus. You want a sharp screen. And you may want to ease off the brightness. Some of the newer screens are very bright.

    I’m different on writing style. I learned in a writing workshop to avoid stopping to edit as for me it broke the flow. If I allowed the words to pour out then went back after, it worked better.

    Interesting to put a tattoo like that on your back where you can’t see it. Love the typeface though. 🙂

  2. Jessica says:

    Jeri, Thanks for this article. I relate to everything you said about natural inclinations. It’s always nice to hear from another writer who is feeling the same things I do. It makes me feel less crazy.

  3. Great interview…thanks for sharing these insights.

  4. Mike says:

    Hi Jeri, terrific post and I couldn’t agree with you more regarding mobile devices. I was talking to a co-worker about this just 10 minutes ago before I read this post regarding that. To you and your life in general, know that I’m proud of you always my friend! 🙂

  5. Hi Jeri… Great post. I’m finding that obviously once we hit a certain age, or bodies tend to decline. But the upside is that our mind gets more focused on what’s important. It becomes easier to brush off the negative and listen to our true selves. At least this has been my experience. Who’d a thunk these older years would be so fulfilling?

    I just write on my little laptop on my sofa and like you I have to have real mouse instead of the touch pad. It’s nice to work from home but using the treadmill regularly is imperative!

    hat photo of your hike to Sawtooth Lake is amazing! This winter has been brutal here and I’m so ready to be outside. Cheers, my friend.

    • Jeri says:

      Grace, it’s great to hear from you. I’d agree that age does bring more focus and wisdom, and that’s worth so very much in this life.

  6. Sushmita says:

    I love this article, and the advice shared. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and inspiring newbies like myself 🙂

  7. I can so relate to the desk-sitting-related weight gain! I’m a fan of My Fitness Palm too. And I love your point that if you can make it as an editor, you can also do what you need to do to be a writer. And finally, I love your tatoo! Very cool.

    • Jeri says:

      Meredith, thanks regarding the tattoo. I almost talked myself out of it, but I’m glad I went through with it. It’s a great conversation starter.

  8. dgkaye says:

    Fantastic to learn more about you Jeri. Kudos for your resilience! You’ve earned the tattoo. Do what makes you happy. And I love that you don’t stress out over word counts either. I also hear you girl on the blurry eyestrain. Great post! 🙂

    • Jeri says:

      Debby, I think one tattoo is definitely enough for now though. It only took about an hour and a half. I don’t see how people can sit for a long time for more involved ones. No thanks 😉

  9. Ken Dowell says:

    Nice tattoo. I think that’s a good start toward that alternative lifestyle blog, which I am very much looking forward to.

  10. A.C.Flory says:

    I really like this:

    ‘By nature, I am an editor. Try as I might not to self-edit as I write, I can’t seem to break the habit. Rather than fight that inclination, I’ve finally given myself permission to go with it.’

    I’m an editor by nature as well so not editing as I go is next to impossible. Over the years, however, I’ve discovered another reason to edit-on-the-fly : nuance. I’m a pantster so I often don’t know where a scene is going until I start writing it. More importantly, I don’t understand the full meaning of a scene until I’ve teased out all the layers, and that rarely happens without editing.

    So I’m with you on the editing!

    • Jeri says:

      Andrea, with so many ways to get the writing done, too often I think self-editing or writing slowly in general gets a bad wrap. Whatever works as long as the word count creeps upward at an acceptable pace. We can’t all write 10,000 words a day!

  11. Glynis Jolly says:

    Jeri, a marvelous article. I had no idea you had the same urges to correct as you write like I do. Staying healthy as a writer may be difficult but I don’t think it’s any worse than if you work in an office, which I did for many years. Even though I’m mobility limited, I still walk the length of my house inside at least four times most days. I like doing something like this because it gets the blood flowing in the brain. Eye strain is becoming a problem with me even with using a regular PC. I’m probably going to have to find the money for that coating put on glasses for computers.

    • Jeri says:

      Glynis, I’ve been considering getting eye glasses with a coating glare too. And oh yes, I am quite the self-editor as a write.

  12. Danielle says:

    I can relate! I’ve had to become familiar with that word resilient myself over the past couple of years. We’re exactly where we’re supposed to be.

    It’s great advice to set realistic expectations and goals. Being a freelance or creative comes with some flexibility or privilege, but we still must have accountability to realize our full potential and success.

    • Jeri says:

      Danielle, it’s always surprising how an unexpected journey can often bring us to the place we are truly meant to be. Only then it will shift again, and again, an again…

  13. Jeri — I don’t think I’ve ever met a writer who enjoyed the process of writing. We like the outcome but the road there can be torturous. I know that I need to build more exercise into my life. I find myself glued to the computer for too many hours every day. Not healthy and not productive so I admire your discipline about exercising every day.

    • Jeri says:

      Jeannette, I’ve found it helpful to also rotate through various exercise videos. I’ve been on a CIZE craze for a spell, but now I’m gearing up to go on a yoga kick.

  14. Candy Korman says:

    Fabulous post. There should be a picture of you in the dictionary next to the word: Resilient.

    • Jeri says:

      Candy, that word seems to apply to me more and more all the time as life has recently thrown another huge curve ball my way.

  15. Susan Cooper says:

    I can relate to the weight gain. I’l struggling with taking that off for the reason you mentioned. Office set up is often overlooked and really important. I had two large monitors positioned as is recommended. I too started my blog way. Score I knew my direction. Now I’m stuck with s name that does quite fit – we do try to make it work. Your advise about becoming a business person is so spot on,

    • Jeri says:

      Susan, we do have to make our URLs work for us as things shift, but I do think both of us have been doing a fine job of making that work, though in my case it was a funny hassle to have to write a letter to the state to prove I wasn’t dealing in shady banking services.

  16. Jeri says:

    Donna, my kitchen kryptonite are Cheez-its and tortilla chips. I do bring a box or bag home on occasion, but it’s with the knowledge they will last a day, maybe two, at the most. Trusting what process works for any given writer is so hard. Comparing processes can be like trying to compare apples to oranges. At the end of the day, a process is effective if the writing is getting done. I continue to work on that process.

  17. I really enjoyed this profile of Jeri. I’ve enjoyed reading so many profiles she has written about other writers. Now it’s her turn! Funny, though. My optometrist gave me the exact opposite advice. He said I should raise my office chair as much as possible so that I look down on the screen. I guess it’s because I have progressive bi-focals.

    • Jeri says:

      Doreen, I can see why looking down at the screen would help if you have progressive bi-focals. I recently opted to change my contacts to a more advanced variety that let more oxygen into my eyes. I’m having a hard time finding a brand I like, but don’t want to go back to my old-school ones that have been around since the eighties.

  18. **I’m the type of writer who hates to write, but loves what I have written.**

    Jeri, I love your honesty, knowledge, and wisdom.

    You are amazingly special! x

    • Jeri says:

      Kim, no you’re amazing! Haha. I’m often told I’m the most honest person that the people in my life have ever met, so thank you for noting my honesty as well. It’s one of my superpowers. Perhaps all of the self-deprecating essays I’ve read by Montaigne helped me gravitate toward such a temperament.

  19. Great advice Jeri. When I moved to my new home one of the things I invested in was a standing desk – actually, it’s a sort of convertible set up. So I sit for awhile and then stand for an hour and every now and then the dog and I head out to the woods in back of my home. I find the mini breaks really help to clear my mind. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Jeri says:

      Marty, I’ve been thinking more and more about using my breakfast bar as a standing desk from time to time. It’s the right height. When I still had a treadmill, I was looking into coming up with a desk to use while on that as well, but I the treadmill and I never became friends and I returned it to Costco (which has a really generous return policy). Now I’m looking into getting an exercise bike again as I always liked riding one. The treadmill just annoyed the heck out of me for some reason. I’d rather be outside walking the dog or hearing my feet hit the pavement as I jog.

  20. Phoenicia says:

    I love this article – so real, so raw.

    Life can be cruel but somehow it strengthens us and makes us resilient to the challenges we face ahead. I was drawn to your statement that you do not enjoy writing but enjoy seeing your work. Though not an established author I have blogged regularly for a number of years. I feel I have to write even if I do not feel to.

    • Jeri says:

      Phoenicia, the writing process endlessly fascinates me. I’m the type of writer who mulls stuff over, so getting it on the page is quite the process. I feel like a hypocrite at times because I’ve taught writing to high school and college students and advocated freewriting as discovery and all that jazz. I can let myself go a bit with freewriting, but as soon as it comes time to get serious about a piece, the slow and laborious process of writing begins.

  21. Donna Janke says:

    Good advice Jeri. I too use a large screen. Proximity to a kitchen can be dangerous, particularly as I find writing (when I am really getting down to it) makes me ravenous. I think discipline, trusting what process works for you and the business aspects are challenges for most writers. Similarly I have to learn when to take a break and step away into real life for a while.