August 19, 2013

Kill Your Blank Pages: Fitness

Walking on water is sooo old. Biking on water = IN!
Warning: I was really tired when I wrote this… maybe it will help highlight my point where I talk about the necessity of proper sleep. :)

Hey there, you lazy bum on the computer. Get off. You need to exercise.

There. I said it. Do you hate me?

There's a reason we're writers and not Olympians (or maybe you're both, in which case, pardon me.) Most of us writers don't especially love to spend time bodybuilding. Our trade requires long hours of hammering on keys or dribbling ink over paper, which usually means lots of sitting. Which means if we're not careful, we get kinda squishy. 

But there's a more dangerous result to not keeping fit than simply our appearance. Unhealthy body means unhealthy brain. Unhealthy brain means unhealthy mind means unhealthy writing habits. So it's time we talk about that dreaded yet vital component of life (at least, to most writers I know).


Is Your Body Dragging You Down?

If you’re experiencing severe or persistent writer’s block, I’ll wager you my non-existent beard that it’s because you’re not fit. Unfit doesn’t mean fat, by the way. You can have a model’s body and still be unfit.

If you’re on my blog RIGHT NOW because you’re desperately trying to find a solution to your painful predicament, sit back from the screen for a second. How do you feel? Do you have a slight headache or does your brain feel sluggish? Are you tired, or unable to concentrate? Just generally unwell or not right?

Unless you have some kind of real medical problem that you can attribute these symptoms to, it’s likely the result of being unfit. You may not be getting enough water or sleep. Maybe you’re not eating right, or not exercising enough.

Well, my dear friend, your mind has gotten enough attention for now, don’t you think? Let’s focus on your poor body for a little bit. It seems a little neglected.

How to Physically Find Inspiration

Here are some recommendations on improving your fitness. Obviously, you aren’t going to hear anything really new from me that you haven’t heard before, especially because talking about health and exercise truly bores me to tears. See? Tears. But we gotta talk about this. Understand it, and your writing will never be the same.

--Drinkwater. You didn’t think I meant something else, did you? No, you have to stay hydrated! This link talks discusses the necessity of water to those who need to concentrate. Nowadays, I don’t even start writing unless I have a big glass of cold tea or water (or, y’know, something without sugar) beside my desk so I can stay hydrated without having to get up to go to the kitchen. It pays. My writing isn’t dry anymore! (Hahahah! I’m so funny… I love puns…)

--Eat right. Same article as above. If you’re eating junk all the time, you’ll feel gross. When you feel gross, your writing feels gross. So don’t eat junk. Also, I recommend not eating a really big meal before you sit down to write. Less is more! Your brain directs all your body’s energy towards digestion if you eat a lot, so that’s all energy that’s not going to your writing. You’ll get sleepy. Speaking of which…

--Sleep! Sometimes, all you really need to get your brain back is a little sleep. Or, if you’re truly fatigued from your schedule, take a few days simply to rest! Let your brain relax. Here I will note that there is a difference between resting and “vegging.” If you’re going to rest, I don’t recommend having any kind of technology at your fingertips. Or at least, don’t be on the TV/computer for more than two hours a day. I haven’t really researched it, but I know from personal experience that bright screens + stimulation = stressful to a tired brain.

--Don't sit when you write. Try finding or making a standing desk! Mine is simply a bookshelf in the TV room that has nothing atop it. It looks out on my lovely neighborhood, too, so bonus!

--Ok…You knew it was coming…EXERCISE. I can’t stress how valuable this is! Some reason many writers think that the nature of this profession means we are exempted from the law of nature that says “don’t sit on your butt all day.” I challenge you to spend at least 30 minutes a day in real exercise (not like 10 pushups or walking…). Jog or run! Hike uphill! Bike at a swift pace. Seriously, get your heart pumping. There is so much research out there on why it’s so important for all parts of you to exercise. But I’m sure you’ve heard all that before.

Don’t diss it ‘til you try it. Take a week where you exercise at least once a day for a good period of time. Exercise hard. See the effect it has on your writing. You’ll notice that taking breaks to stay fit will allow your ideas to subconsciously reassemble themselves in delightful ways! You’ll be sharper and feel soooo much better. I hate exercise, but it’s the first thing I turn to when my creativity hits a wall. It’s the only thing that can take my mind off my writing while still letting it mull in the depths of my mind.

If you want, find a physical activity that develops a new skill for you, too! Fencing, or martial arts, or swimming, or discus-throwing… hey, you never know how your sports may inspire your writing. :D

So. Drink water, eat like a human, sleep well, and if your ability to sit down and write doesn’t improve dramatically, post here and I’ll do a chicken dance and put it up on YouTube. Really.

So, take a week to improve your fitness, and when you get back, it’ll be time for the penultimate chapter of KILL YOUR BLANK PAGES: A TEN-PART SERIES ON DEFEATING WRITER’S BLOCK. T-t-t-that’s all for now, fffolks!

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