This is the final installment in our series on how to fight the dragons of writing.
We explained why being a writer is like getting commissions to go out on an epic quest in exchange for monetary reward, and why that makes you pretty awesome. We also explained why you need to train your awesomeness mentally, emotionally, and finally – today, in fact – physically.
Now, writers are not necessarily a physical bunch. We wind up with tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome and back problems from being hunched over a keyboard all day – and it’s not as though there’s a rumor running around that all writers are secretly epic ninjas by night. What writers mostly are by night is, apparently, alcoholics.
None of this bodes well for our physical prowess.
But do we really need physical prowess? After all, the talents of a writer are in the mind and in the proper understanding of the human psyche. Being able to bench-press 220 isn’t going to make us better at our jobs.
Except for the part where it will.
Now, don’t panic if you can’t bench 220. I can’t either. But if you’re not getting out and doing something physical on a regular basis – running, jumping, climbing trees, taking yoga classes, having sex – you’re selling yourself short as a writer.
You see, the other common understanding about writers is that we all suffer from writer’s block. This is by and large true. Every writer has had a day in which he sat down at his computer and absolutely nothing flowed forth from his otherwise brilliant mind.
The mistake most writers make is thinking that writer’s block goes away if you continue to sit there in front of the computer and try really hard. This sometimes works, but it is very painful and difficult. It often means you’ll be sitting there for many more hours than you should be.
The other option is to go take a hike.
No, seriously. Go take a hike. Go ride your bicycle for a while. Go for a walk. Go call your significant other up for a bit of afternoon delight (I can’t help but mention it, okay? It’s the best exercise activity ever, and no one was more pleased than I was when health magazines started telling me how many calories you could burn while doing it. My favorite was the magazine that clarified you would burn x number of calories – and I quote – “if you do it right”).
Exercise is good for your writer’s brain for several reasons:
- Exercise shakes up your routine. Sometimes, pushing forward through writer’s block only makes you more frustrated. This is not a path that leads you to inspiration. If you take a little break to not think for a while and just focus on raising a sweat, your brain will be rested and ready to take on the assignment when you return. Apparently your brain has a hell of a time stressing out about the writing AND putting one foot in front of the other. This is to your benefit.
- Exercise makes you happier. There are some days when you just don’t feel like working. There are days when you’re sick, or depressed or stressed out about the fact that the refrigerator is broken again and you really can’t afford a new refrigerator. Exercise is the endorphins releaser. It actually changes your brain chemistry and makes you happier. That’s good for writers. We are a generally a solemn folk. That’s why I talk about happy animals so much. (PENGUINS!)
- Exercise makes your brain work better. This is awesome and true. There are many studies showing a direct correlation between cardiovascular exercise and brain function. Short story: Go for a run, and you’ll have an easier time thinking of the perfect adjective. Other kinds of exercise, like weight lifting, also help, but not nearly as much as the cardio. So get your heart rate up and you’ll turn into Shakespeare. Not that Shakespeare was a jogger, but he was apparently quite the philanderer, so yet another vote for sex as the activity of choice.
There you are, my friends. Mind, body, and spirit, the ways to rock out
your writing world and turn into the champion of clients everywhere.
You may send me a small tithe of your earned fees for the next dragon you slay, as well as any appropriate treasure you may have collected, for memento purposes of course. Please be sure to include a photograph for the gallery of Epic Writers, which I will be constructing in Jamie’s living room.
Why Jamie’s living room? Because then it won’t get screw up my living room’s feng shui, that’s why. Must I think of everything, people?