Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Writer Fitness

"Me thinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow." -- Henry David Thoreau

Different people have different ideas of what a writer's day looks like. Some see a mug of coffee beside a laptop and stacks of books, papers, and enough cats to build a fort. Others might envision a scribe staring out of a window or at one of those "Hang in There, Baby!" cat posters until the click-clacking fills the room like the end of every Doogie Howser episode.

The thing is, every writer is different in their approach to getting the words down, but we all can benefit from regular exercise. While you may have seen an infomercial or two exclaiming the same thing I just said, let's look at how fitness impacts a writer specifically.

1. One study* showed that creativity was increased for up to two hours after a thirty minute period of aerobic exercise while the control group, that did not, showed no increase in cognitive creativity.

[Blanchette, David M., Ramocki, Stephen P., O'del, John N., and Casey, Michael S. (2005), Aerobic Exercise and Cognitive Creativity: Immediate and Residual Effects, Creativity Research Journal, 17(2&3), 257-264.]

2. Physical activity releases endorphins and flushes out cortisol which puts you in a great mood. Who wants to write while depressed?

3. You become more focused and motivated. That daily word count goal will be a cinch.

4. Creative juices literally start flowing and you may get dozens of ideas for that sticky plot point you've been mulling over. Exercise destroys "writer's block".

5. Most highly successful authors have exercised regularly: Stephen King, Henry David Thoreau, Joyce Carol Oates, Thomas Wolfe, Will Self, and too many more to name here. Just ask your favorite author. They'll tell you they get their work out on.

Writing is a very mind-heavy activity. It just makes sense to balance all that brain-racking with a little physical movement. I like to run and lift weights but you can just take it easy and walk, taking in the environment. Every experience adds to your goodie bag of author swag.

While I'm sure there are authors out there who are successful and have a writing ritual of vegging out with peanut M&M's and Mountain Dew Code Red--how long will that last? Writing is one of those passions and, hopefully, careers that doesn't have to have a retirement date. All of us will have a final novel, short story, or essay some day. The question I leave to you is: How soon do you want that last project to come?

Take care of your bodies and the words you sling.


1 comment:

  1. There's a lot of truth to this. I come up with some of my better ideas while walking around, or just when I'm on my feet - for some reason, I get a lot of good story ideas in the shower, which my friends have been making fun of for years. -_- But I also find that if I'm stuck on something, just standing up and stepping away from the computer will often get me unstuck. It works almost every time.