Back in the day, when my writing mentor was working with me, he said, “Get out and walk. Ride a bike. Exercise. It will help your writing.” And I believed him… to some extent. But I thought that pounding it out at the keyboard and staying focused on the story was the best way to get better at writing.
Maybe both are. I find that when I work diligently at my writing, the story comes easier. I don’t struggle with ideas or word choice. It all flows pretty well.
But then there are those dark times when I feel clogged. Like, I’m a pot of cream with a thick layer keeping out the fresh air below.
After re-starting my exercise regimen, I came to believe that my mentor was correct. When we exercise we build strength in our musculature as well as our psyche. The endorphins released through exercise help us think, stay positive, keep focused, and sleep better. And I believe sleep maybe a writer’s best friend. It’s that down-time we need to let the stories steep and take hold in our subconscious minds.
It wasn’t easy, though, to start back on the fitness track. After my Achille’s tear, I was a little scared to put any weight on my foot let alone to stretch the back of my leg. After three months of inactivity, the workout felt like it was rearranging my muscles to where they were supposed to be and not to where they ended up. To a point, that’s exactly what was happening but more slowly than my aching muscles were given to believe. Whoa! The pain. My muscles ached, were sore to the slightest touch, and yet, I felt that gentle tugging across my mid-section letting me know that I was toning up my core. Yay!
But today, after only the second time back, I feel more energized. The soreness isn’t present… yet. But I honestly don’t think it will be nearly as bad as last week. And next week? Not a problem. Three times and I’ll be feeling close to my old self again.
It was a shock when I tore my Achille’s and I ended up depressed and cranky. I’ve been working out most of my life. As a child, I was in dance and gymnastics. As a teen, more dance and more gymnastics. As a young adult, I taught aerobics. After that, my workouts turned into 4-mile walks with my dog and 25-mile bike rides with my sister. I even participated in the MS150 from Phoenix to Parker when they did the 150’s. I did it two years in a row.
So, you see, doing no physical activity for three months felt like years. Not only to my body but to my mind, heart and soul.
As a writer, I love getting outside to explore. If that means incorporating a quick jaunt around the block, well, right on. My mind is free away from my keyboard although I may still be thinking about a story, the story becomes backstory to my exercise. I’m building my story-maker-muscle when I get away from just sitting and writing.
If you find yourself getting clogged or discouraged, stop, get up and move around. Go for a walk. Find an exercise class but get out of your mind for a while because when it comes right down to it, your mind will never be freed of your body unless you let it out to play.
I write books. ~Susan Wingate