Wednesday, January 02, 2008


I looked a lot like this picture yesterday. I sat and stared at my computer, then stared at the calendar on the wall, then stared at the cats who stared back at me.

My goal for yesterday was to finish figuring out the major points of my novel. I struggled with it all day, and no amount of chocolate helped. (I limited myself, though!). I fought the problems all morning and afternoon until about 3:30 when my husband declared we needed to get out of the house. We headed to Target because it was too darn cold to take a walk.

I wandered around the store, picked up Ocean's Twelve for $6 because I love the Ocean's 11 movies, ignored all the delectable desserts in the bakery section, and vowed to boycott low-waisted jeans. But I was no closer to figuring out my plot than before.

I hit the computer again when we got home, but I still struggled. I have seven pages of notes - yes, seven - of aimless thoughts, of questions I'm posing to myself, of half-formed ideas and concepts.

And wouldn't you know it - the one thing that opened the flood gates was something that not only is good for the mind, but excellent for the body - exercise. I plugged in the treadmill, popped a big band CD in, and got to walking. After a few minutes of working out (and I ask you, how can you not move when you're listening to swing music?), the gears started churning. The solution suddenly presented itself, and as I kept on walking/jogging/and doing sit-ups (darn low-waisted jeans made me realize I needed to really target that area!), I kept going over the angles. Everything fell into place.

So. There you have it. When you're stuck, exercise. Move. Stretch. Allow your mind to wander. You'll feel better physically and emotionally when you're done. I'm sure this isn't new to many of you, but it's definitely worth repeating!


  1. I couldn't agree more about the exercise thing. Our dogs love it when I'm stuck as they have extra-long walks.

    Happy New Year!

  2. Hmm - I'll have to try that.

    The dog is currently curled up round my trainers and we have a bitter wind here (nothing between Norfolk and Siberia) so I think mine will have to be mental exercise today. (Or maybe I'll move my office round...)

  3. Glad to hear one more anecdote that confirms what I'm learning -- when the writing is a struggle and "what happens next" isn't coming -- walk away, move around and let the unconscious kick into gear. Exercise, laundry and long showers seem to help me -- oh, and painting (not canvas, walls) or gardening. It has to be something that involves enough physical activity that the brain is getting extra oxygen, but the physical activity has to not require much help from the brain. Glad the workout kicked the cobwebs loose!

  4. The only way I can make myself exercise if I am staring at the tv watching something more interesting than me exercising. It's my dead time. The best place for thinking for me has always been while driving or sleeping. Weird, huh?

  5. You're absolutely right. I get more breakthroughs during my workouts or when I'm doing something like chopping vegetables than at any other time.

    Hmm, how writing supports exercise and exercise supports writing. Great interdependence, isn't it?


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