Finding it hard to exercise?
Check out Part 1 of Exercise for Writers, and then do continue…
Appreciating exercise as a way of exercising the imagination.
So with No1 and 2, you’re multi-tasking to maximise efficiency of a passive exercise (watching/listening) with an active exercise. But there’s definitely a split in concentration there. Exercise on its own can be exercise for both body and imagination – but that’s when Time (as in ‘I don’t have enough’) and Motivation (as in ‘I don’t have any’) raise their baleful gaze and send many writers slinking back to their desk, and probably their fifth coffee of the day which may very well require the dippage of cookies or complimentary crisps.
Now we’ve all experienced the way familiar activities kind of disengage the conscious brain, often leading to unexpected spurts of creativity – who hasn’t had some astounding flash of genius while doing very rote tasks like the dishes, driving or going to the bathroom? So how about we substitute those things, just for instance, with activities like going for a walk, a run, a swim, a cycle? These are just the sorts of tasks that seem to allow the right side of the brain to take a break from thinking about annoying daily bollocks, disengage a bit and deal with important things. Creative things. And if you want to pimp your creative self to awesomeness, try using thematic music selections or just lightly focusing on a particular plot, character, problem etc, because these are times where you can make surprising leaps of creativity and logic that simply wouldn’t happen sitting at a desk bashing your head against the keyboard.
So this isn’t exercising while media consuming – it’s using exercise as part of your media creation. It’s about not looking at exercise as an annoying thing you Should Do But Is Really A Big Distraction but looking at exercise as an opportunity to walk around your current project from different angles. To hold the story and characters lightly and allow your mind to play with them while you’re gallivanting around/lapping the pool.
But: TIME IS THE ENEMY, right? Ok, are there ways to try to built this into your current schedule? Instead of driving or training/tubing to work, can you cycle instead? Lose the aaaargh of transport and get your exercise and mind-space doing something that has to be done anyway (although detaching the mind and cycling in, say, London, can have some serious OH&S implications – said from experience, although that doesn’t stop me). It’s that time where you get to disengage your brain and let Stuff float up. The problems you’re grappling with sometimes solve themselves. Sometimes you discover problems you weren’t even aware of. That might not seem a win at the time, but better sooner than later, eh? And sometimes, as a bonus win, you discover solutions (ok, and problems) via realising the solution to something you didn’t even know was a problem in the first place. Get in.
And finally, more Technical Blah to consider when re-wiring your attitude towards exercise, to see it as a benefit, not a chore:
- exercise helps you live longer, strengthens your immune system, improves blood pressure, bone density, metabolic rate and blah blah blah blah blah…
Yeah, I get it. Long term stuff can be hard to prioritise in the ever present here and now. So prioritise this: right here, right now, it helps sharpen concentration and means you can sit and throw shit at that computer screen for longer. It’s probably going to be less shitty shit too if you’ve broken up your day-job-desk-sitting and your writer-desk-sitting.
- you spend your time creating interesting, dynamic, kick ass and inspirational characters, right? So why the hell do you get to be a sedentary slob then? Be a superhero (after all, all superheroes are just normal dudes pretending to be superheroes, whether writing, drawing, acting, reading or watching them). Pimp yourself out. Why do your characters have to do all the work? Pump some iron. Lose some weight. Eat better. Look better. Feel better. Live it. Your job is to imagine you’re other people – it’s not being crazy, it’s being good at what you do. Some days I’m Vandal, some days I’m Sienna, some days I’m Rael, some days I’m Buffy, and occasionally I get a bit carried away and dress up as Xena. Doesn’t hurt anyone and believe me, I feel fiiiiine.