16 August 2007

Exercise and the Writer...

I know this is slightly off-topic, but it's also oh so important. As writers we spend an awful lot of time sitting down - writing, reading, researching. Great for the mind, not so great for the body.

But this isn't a lecture on why exercise is good for us. We all know why. I'm talking more about the effects it has on the mind and how that helps us with our writing. Have you ever been frustrated with the way a story is going or, more likely, not going? I know I have on countless occasions. One thing I've found most helpful is something as simple as taking a walk. I can play with ideas in my head as I go and there's something about motion that really helps.

But it's more than just that. Trying different forms of exercise challenges the brain and anything that forces your neurons to fire differently has a ripple effect. Similarly, when writing, a lot of us discover that when one method of plotting, characterization etc isn't producing results, that turning to an alternate one often will.

Over the last 10 months I've been taking a Nia class each week. If you've not heard of Nia, it's a combination of dance, martial arts and yoga all set to music. There are set routines and movements, but instructors can play with those as well. I've been amazed how quickly this exercise class has made a difference for me and my writing. When I'm tense, I find it remarkably freeing to go and lose myself in movement and music. Last week, for instance, I was finally able to write the opening scene of my new story AFTER I'd been to a Nia class.

What about you? Do you exercise in one form or another on a regular basis? Do you find it helpful? Does my musing about how challenging your mind in one way can be beneficial to other aspects of your life make sense?