Sunday, March 14, 2010

Wishing Out

I have just come back from my first run of 2010, so I can now write this post without (as much) hypocrisy.

Writing is primarily a sedentary activity. Now, before you leap down my throat with examples to the contrary, take a good look at the words already on their way up it: I said "primarily," and I'll stick by that. It is technically possible to write while walking or gardening, via a recording device or a speech-to-text translator such as Dragon, but I know no one who does. That's not to say the time spent in other activities doesn't produce fantastic writing, and is often time spent thinking about writing--I would even argue that spending time otherwise engaged is essential to writing. But the putting words on paper part--that's pretty much sitting at a keyboard and typing for hours. Which isn't the best for your body.

You know where I'm going with this.

I'm as guilty as anyone of avoiding exercise, and probably more so. Anything that takes precious time away from writing, I argue to myself, must be cut out of the schedule. Or it's too cold outside. Then it's too hot. My schedule doesn't give me a lot of flexibility to exercise in the morning, and by the evening time, I'm too frazzled to want to do anything but crash. Weekends are my only free time (ha ha ha, ow, my side, it hurts), and I shouldn't do anything that takes away from the little time I can spend with my wife. Plus, I have chores and household responsibilities. And work. Don't forget about work.

Sound familiar?

Yeah, we're writers. Excuses are easy for us... But it isn't called "wishing out", is it? Because it takes work.

Writing happens in my brain, and that organ is intimately connected to my body. If my heart doesn't keep a steady flow of fresh oxygen to my brain, my brain won't have the energy to invent new ideas, or thoroughly explore the worlds I want to write about.

We sleep better when we've exercised, and NOTHING gets my writing brain ready to go like deep, restful, dream-laced sleep. It's like spending the whole night priming the well--there's plenty of fresh, cold water on tap as soon as you wake up.

Getting plenty of regular exercise is an important part of writing (and living) healthfully. Whether that is walking during your lunch break, or scheduling time at a gym, or having a few friends that you run with, or starting each day with half an hour on Wii Active, we need to set time aside to keep our bodies refreshing and replenishing our minds, if for no other reason than improving our capacity for telling a good story.

1 comment:

Bill Henry said...

From Jane Campion's Bright Star: "If Mr. Keats and myself are strolling in a meadow, lounging on a sofa, or staring into a wall, do not presume we're not working. Doing nothing is the musing of the poet."