“Leave all the afternoon for exercise and recreation, which are as necessary as reading. I will rather say more necessary because health is worth more than learning.”
– Thomas Jefferson
No doubt, many of you are questioning how exercise can help you get your get your big writing or creative project finished and out the door? Why should we be motivated to exercise, when we could be getting on with the job instead? After all, isn’t success all about focus and shutting out all distractions?
Believe me, I get it. I’m not a very balanced person, and anything but exercise fanatic. There are days where I barely crank out 100 steps.
However, after really ramping up my writing and research over the last couple of weeks, I’m now at the point where I’m struggling to wind down to sleep or keep up with the family calendar. Indeed, life is flowing right past me, while I’m caught up in the creative flow and the words, ideas and pure magic is flowing like a crystal stream. It’s hard to let it go. Pause to even make a cup of tea. Go to the toilet. Taking a break to go for a walk, then becomes quite an effort, even along our beloved, picturesque beach where I could be living the dream, instead of almost tearing my brain cells apart trying to nut things out.
I know I’m sounding very much like a pokie addict, wearing nappies so they don’t have to leave their machine. However, I’m desperate to get those runs on the board, and it’s been such a long time coming. I’m scared that if I stop, I won’t get going again. That it’ll all start crumbling down.
Self-doubt is clearly part of it. Clearly, I need to have enough faith in myself and what I’m working on that I can walk away and come back and it won’t be the end of the world.
I also need to reprogram how I view the writing process. Understand that writing is more than coming up with words and the plot. That incorporating exercise and relaxation into your daily writing schedule, is also about acknowledging that a healthy mind and body are equally important ingredients to creative success. That’s because writing a book is a marathon, not a sprint and your mind and body both still need to be pumping when you reach the end.
Just to share with you a bit of what exercise looks like for me. Walking is my main form of exercise. That includes walking the dogs around the streets and going for walks along the beach. I also go for the occasional photographic walk, where I go exploring through the lens and kilometres stack up quite unconsciously until I almost collapse heading home. I also do an adult ballet class which runs sporadically and has a lovely social and creative element. So, exercise doesn’t have to be torture and it can also stimulate the creative juices.
My walks actually end up with quite a social element. On occasions, I go walking with my dogs and not also see them wagging their tails being happy, we also meet loads of people including friends and complete strangers.
By the way, when it comes to writing and walking it appears I’m in good company. French artist and sculptor Edgar Degas (who is famous among other works for his sculpture The Little Dancer) used to work around the streets of Paris, even after he had lost his sight. Charles Dickens walked and walked and walked and seemingly needed to walk something out of his system. He wrote:
“I think I must be the descendant, at no great distance, of some irreclaimable tramp.”
Scarcely a day went by that Dickens didn’t flee his desk and take to the streets of London and its suburbs. He routinely walked as many as 20 miles a day, and once set out at 2 a.m. to walk from his house in London to his country residence in Gad’s Hill, Kent, 30 miles away. As several of his walking companions described it, he had a distinctive “swinging” gait. And, like many a serious runner of today, he “made a practice of increasing his speed when ascending a hill,” according to his friend Marcus Stone.
So, now I’m going to throw the ball into your court. How do you go with juggling writing and exercise? Is exercise important to you, or is it more of an avoidable drudge?
This has been E- Exercise the latest in my Motivation for Writers and Creatives in the annual Blogging A-Z April Challenge.
I look forward to hearing from you!
PS I make no apologies for not keeping up to date with my posts this year. This year the challenge is intended to fuel my book writing project, not replace it.
PPS It’s been a few year now since I’ve hit the slopes. However, as a member of the Disabled Wintersports Association, I was able to get an instructor training in working with people living with disabilities for half price as well as half price lift tickets. Unable to climb a mountain due to my disability and health problems, I decided in effect to turn my mountain around and ski down one instead. I did it! (also thanks to my instructor Tom who you can see further up the hill.)