Monday, February 18, 2008

Why You Should Exercise If You're a Writer


Writers sit a lot. Sure, we get up and move around when we're stuck (at least I do), but the majority of the time is spent in a chair, in front of the keyboard or with pen and notebook. And, if you're like me, I get hungry when I write - so I inevitably end up snacking. I try and eat the healthy stuff, but dark chocolate apparently helps me in the creative process.

Here are a few reasons why you need to exercise if you're a writer:

1) It feels good. Yesterday I was in a foul mood - probably because I hadn't exercised for a few days. Once I got on the treadmill and weight machine, I felt so much better. Just getting up and moving can do wonders for your emotional health, too. And that helps you churn out better prose!

2) It's good for you. Exercise has so many benefits, but it's worth it to list them again. It helps to control your blood sugars, strengthens your heart and lungs, combats some chronic diseases, helps you sleep better, and manages your weight. It also can help you feel less tired. Before I started exercising, I also felt lethargic and wouldn't hesitate to sit on the couch because I didn't have the energy to move. I have more energy now. If I happen to take a week off from exercising (which I try very, very hard not to), I can instantly tell. I feel lousy and unmotivated. I sometimes have to force myself to work out, but I'm always glad that I did when I finish.

3) It helps you think. Have a plot problem? Can't figure out why your character is acting the way they are? Jump on the treadmill. Hit the weight machine. Take a walk. Just move. Last night on the treadmill, I was working out a few specifics to my characters' motivations and I got so lost in thought that by the time I looked at the clock, I'd walked a lot longer than I originally planned.

4) It gets you off the chair! Your body wasn't meant to sit for hours at a time in front of a computer. Yes, you may get lost in your story and look up and find that two hours have gone by. But while this is a good thing for your story, it's a bad thing for your body. At my last job, I used to set a reminder for myself through my email program that would pop up and say, "Take a break and stretch." At my new job, I get up and down from my desk quite a lot, so I don't use this option anymore. But even if you work at home, set an alarm clock to go off every half hour to 45 minutes. Stretching, getting up and walking around, or throwing a load of laundry into the dryer will keep your muscles limber.

Don't put it off anymore. Your mental and physical health are delicately entwined, and you need to take care of both, especially if you want to keep writing! Stop feeling guilty for not exercising - and just start moving. Your writing - and your life - will improve!

15 comments:

  1. You are so right! And I am such an exercise procrastinator, that I need to get off my --- chair --- and get moving. Thanks for the inspiration Melissa!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I do some of my best plotting when I'm out for my walks. Finally we had a nice sunny day on Sunday and I got outside instead of the treadmill. It was pretty chilly though so I ended up dong a run/walk so I could get home quicker! Still, the exercise felt great. I actually love working out. I'd probably go brain dead if I didn't.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Lisa - yay! So glad I inspired you. :-)

    Kelly - I am starting to get that way - if I don't exercise, I get very growly and grumpy. I suppose it's not all a bad thing to be addicted to exercise. ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm a fan of exercise. My goal is to "move" every day this week! I do not want to be a victim of Writer's Butt (WB).

    ReplyDelete
  5. Marty, that's what I'm trying to avoid, too! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  6. So true, but dang I hate to exercise.

    I usually take a hot shower or go for a long drive when I'm stuck.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Travis, I've never liked to exercise, either, until I was actually forced into it by my doctor. Once you find something you like to do, it starts to get a lot easier. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  8. I can't wait for it to warm up so I can get back into walking. I actually looked into treadmills last week, but didn't actually get one.

    ReplyDelete
  9. You're absolutely right. It is easier when it isn't so cold out. And I'm not talking just a bit nippy, I'm talking frostbite. I have joined a class though :) Lots of fun.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Kacey - I really enjoy taking my dog for a walk, too, though I think I get a better work out in my home gym since I have the weight machine, etc. BUT - I still want to get out in the warm spring weather (if it ever shows up!)

    Toni - What kind of class did you join?

    ReplyDelete
  11. I know I know I know.

    Just hate to exercise. But I know I gotta do it!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Ell - there are times when I dread going to the treadmill, but once I get over that initial hurdle, I am SO glad I did. I feel so much better when I'm done (and proud of myself, too!).

    ReplyDelete
  13. You are so right. I kid myself that walking the dogs is enough. It isn't, mainly because I tend to stroll along admiring the scenery. Why is it so much easier to reach for the chocolate though?

    ReplyDelete
  14. Shirley, I think it's how women are programmed! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  15. I just got back from my two-mile run. Now it's time to write my L story so yes I agree. It gives me energy.

    ReplyDelete

I love to hear from you!

It's Time

I've had this blog for over 10 years. But I'm finding that I go to it less and less. Maybe it's the death of blogging that broug...