Writing is obviously a solitary and stationary endeavor. We sit in front of a computer or a laptop, or maybe just with a pen and pad of paper, and we don’t move for an extended period of time. The only thing that’s moving are our fingers. Low level cardio.
It’s probably safe to say that most writers aren’t in the best of shape. The act of writing isn’t doing much for our physical health. Laying on the sofa or in bed and reading doesn’t do much for us, either.
A few months ago I was noticing that I was out of breath after climbing some stairs at work and realized that I was out of shape. I spend most of my free time sitting and writing, or sitting and recording, or sitting and reading. The thing I was missing was movement.
So I started exercising three days a week. Nothing over the top. Just forty minutes in the mornings. It was tough for the first couple of weeks – oh, I didn’t know muscles could hurt like that – but I’ve stuck with it and now I can jog up six flights without feeling like my heart is going to explode. I’ve found that it’s improved my mood, as well. Probably because I feel better about myself and I have more energy.
But the other thing I noticed is that I feel more creative. I think it goes along with the increased energy. I have more ideas popping into my head, I feel the need to write more, my mind feels more stimulated. It’s interesting to see the difference.
I still sit for hours working on my projects, but now I don’t feel so worn out when I’m finished with a writing session. I used to feel exhausted, worn out, after writing for an hour. Now when I’m done I’m ready to do something else. I’m turning into a creativity machine.
I don’t think artists consider the importance of exercise in their creative lives. We can get so wrapped up in our projects, obsessed even, and we forgot about everything else. I know I’ve been guilty of forgetting to eat when I’m in the zone. I’ve sat for so long in front of my laptop that my legs were all pins and needles when I tried to stand. It happens to us all.
But I feel that artists need to consider adding a little bit of exercise to their lives. It doesn’t have to be much. A walk around the block is good, or maybe following along to some yoga video on YouTube. Even daily stretching can work wonders. A little bit is better than nothing at all.
And no, it won’t be easy at the beginning. There’s a hump you have to get over. That’s usually the first four to six weeks. But if you can do it regularly for that long, it’ll become a habit and you’ll find that you need to do it, your body will crave the exertion. And in the end, I think your brain will crave it, too.
Remember, you don’t have to be a bodybuilder or high-performing athlete. Just do a little something, anything, to get your body moving, to get that heart rate up for a bit, so make the blood circulate a little faster. Your body will appreciate it, as will your mind.