Sunday, July 29, 2007

Writing. Exercise.

Today we are going to talk about a non-obvious practice that can help you when tapping creativity in your own writing: exercise.

Sure, the physical benefits of exercise tend to get all of the press. And that alone should make you want to lace up some shoes and hit the trail. Still, when it comes to writing, exercise offers many benefits that might not seem so obvious.

The first benefit is basic stress relief. In a very unscientific study of one person (me), the ability for exercise to help relieve stress usually means I sit at the keys with a mind that is free from distraction. This helps to cut down on instances of writer's block, foster more organized thoughts, and get more out of the time I spend writing.

Next, when I run, I throw on some headphones and got lost in my head. It's these times that I'm able to get my best ideas. Why? Because when I run, it's all about me. I don't have to answer to anyone else. I can just think, and often something worth writing about will usually pop into my head.

Since I run with headphones, I can catch up the music that I review for my other blog: Blog Rockin' Beat. If you find yourself pressed for time, you can use supplement your workout time with podcasts or books on CD, to learn something new or get inspired for your next writing session.

Not all writing happens while you are at the computer. In fact, I had a conversation with Joyce Maynard at a Walloon Writer's Retreat a few years back. She was working on The Usual Rules: A Novel at the time. She told me she prefers to ruminate on an idea for a long time, then sit down for a six-week stretch and hammer out the first draft.

The immediate lesson was, of course, that writing doesn't always happen at the computer. For me, it often happens when I'm running. In my experience, a writing exercise isn't nearly as useful as writing and exercise. So lace 'em up, get sweatin', and see what you get!

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