Monday, 17 September 2012

On Will Power, Self Discipline and Cake

Photo by oatsy40
By Candy Gourlay

Everyday you spend hours resisting the siren song of Facebook, resisting the impulse to check your inbox, resisting the text messages vibrating on your mobile phone, resisting the call of the laundry, resisting the sunshine outside, resisting the urge to turn the word processor off before you've hit your word count target.

After all that self control you are confronted with the last hurdle. There it is. Cake.

Can you resist it?

The answer is no.


According to Will Power: Rediscovering our Greatest Strength by psychologist Roy Baumeister and journalist John Tierney -

Will power requires fuel and that fuel is glucose.

Sugar is glucose. Therefore glucose is cake.

When people have more demands for self control in their lives their hunger for sweets increases though their hunger for food in general does not ... what's more even simply expecting to have to exert self conrol seems to have the same effect. John Tierney in BBC Science Focus Magazine

But before you surrender to the cake, Baumeister points out that Will Power is like a muscle, the more you exercise it, the better you get at it. Focus Magazine offered these surprisingly useful tips to get us through:

  • Use ritual to help you practice Self Control. Eg. Following a schedule to embed the habit of writing
  • Monitor your progress. Dieters who weigh in everyday tend to lose weight more successfully - so monitor your word count religiously.
  • Resisting too many things makes it hard to keep going. Conserve your will power by outsourcing self control. Eg. Dieters lose more weight when they do it with others. For authors, it might involve joining an organization like SCBWI. Let peer pressure do the work. (although peer pressure can also have the opposite effect of leading you into the Great Time Suck of social networking)
  • And yes, glucose will help keep you going. But sadly cake is not the answer. Read up on goody goody sources of glucose. Sigh.
From All Posters


35 comments :

  1. WOW. Is that why I stopped in the middle of editing chapter 7 on Saturday to bake a cake? I knew there had to be a reason...

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    Replies
    1. YES when i read this a lightbulb flashed inside my brain and I immediately bought a Cadbury's Whole Nut Chocolate Bar.

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    2. seriously - I hardly EVER bake. It's been months. It's like some gremlins led me to the kitchen and wouldn't let me leave until Banana Cherry Coconut cake was in the oven (it was rather yummy)

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  2. I wondered why my interest in sweet stuff has gone up exponentially since I started writing. Now I know.

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  3. Toast, butter and marmalade is a worthy alternative to cake although I'm not knocking cake. I say, let them eat cake!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Crumpets and strawberry jam.
      And/or M&Ms.
      Now you know my editing secrets!

      Delete
    2. You're supposed to click the link to the GOOD sources of sugar!

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    3. as if that was really going to happen!

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  4. Addy, at the time I actually I thought my cake baking was your fault - for endless cupcake related emails. But turns out it was my will power - who knew?

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    Replies
    1. That's amazing, Teri. I must clarify that I won't actually be baking the 75 mini iced cupcakes myself but I will be eating them (not all of them obviously).

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  5. I've turned to watermelon, pineapple, rock melon, mango, and perhaps a little chocolate.

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    Replies
    1. Gosh Heather, you can be my life coach! The rest of you are just VERY BAD INFLUENCES!

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    2. Thank you, Heather 'Voice of Reason' Kilgour!

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  6. All the c's are temptations! Cake, chocolate and coffee!! But I no longer resist! I am doomed! LOL! Take care
    x

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  7. Given the choice I would ONLY eat cake. How great to know that it's a tool to self control. Coffee Cake for 11's, Carrot cake for lunch and Victoria Sponge for dinner it is then...

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    Replies
    1. don't forget fruit cake for those all important vitamins

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    2. Sally, this is SO not the message.

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  8. Cake is important, clearly, but the most important point here is peer support. Truly that's what keeps me going. That and deadlines.

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    Replies
    1. Hey Candy, get on with it. ( Bit of peer support there) Cake when you've finished ;o)

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    2. Oops. i note that a lot of comments were posted just after 7am.

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  9. Okay everyone - peer support here - let's all write a thousand words today. And then 1.5cm of cake.

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    Replies
    1. I'm editing. I'm cutting words. Do I still get cake?

      Delete
  10. Candy, when I read this piece I had to go and find a chocolate biscuit. Immediately. Before breakfast. I'm sure you didn't intend to have that effect...Definitely agree with the point about having a writing schedule though. I find if I write for 3 hours in the morning with the wifi switched off, I can spend the rest of the day happily doing all the other jobs. So am going to switch off the wifi now...

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  11. Does it count if you're editing someone else's 1000 words today? It's my mother's stem-ginger flapjacks in this house. *checks tin* Um. Make that 'flapjack'.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Mmmmm....cake....Actually am eating toast right now. But planning to have a kit-kat with a cup of tea in a while. I have a cold and that's my excuse.

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    Replies
    1. Paula, you don't need an excuse: you are a writer!

      Delete
  13. I was actually told off by the lady who staffs the coffee bar at work for eating too much cake. This from a woman whose job is to sell cake. Sheesh.

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    Replies
    1. maybe we should get cards made up that say we are writers, and so are allowed unlimited cake at all times?

      Delete
  14. Loved this post and I agree that will power has to be practised. It doesn't come naturally a lot of the time. Strangely enough I have just recently started a healthy eating plan and 'cake' posts keep arriving in my email!

    ReplyDelete

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