During a recent check-up, I complained to my doctor about my lack of energy and motivation. Everyone now and again experiences a loss of energy, often in relation to the stress level in our lives, but this was different. My lack of energy and motivation had moved in and settled, like a permanent resident. My doctor asked if I exercised.
“I belong to a gym,” I shamefully answered. “My gym bag is actually in my backseat.”
My doctor tilted her head and smiled. “How about you use it,” she suggested. “I want to see you back in 6 weeks, and your homework is to exercise at least twice a week.”
Ugh. Didn’t she know I had things to do? A job, books to write, writing groups to lead, Facebook pages to check? Serious writers have to forgo other pleasures (as if exercise is a “pleasure”) in life to be productive. We proudly live by BIC (butt in chair), right?
Finally a week after our visit (or her intervention) and an exceptionally lackluster day, I forced myself into my tennis shoes and through the gym doors. I had a headache, my neck was almost immobile from stiffness after hours at the computer, and quite frankly, my ass even hurt from sitting so much. How could I ever muster the energy to exercise?
I drug myself to a treadmill and walked at a pace only turtles would appreciate for 15 minutes. That wasn’t too torturous. I then moved to a recumbent bike with a TV on the handles. Before I knew it, another 15 minutes had passed. I felt pretty good, so I hopped on a couple of weight machines. As I was doing some leg presses, I had an idea for a chapter in my memoir that’s been languishing in my drawer. Then I had a great idea on an upcoming writing workshop I hadn’t even started planning yet. Ideas were coming faster than the sweat could pool on my brow.
The more I moved, the more ideas came to me. The more ideas that came, the more I wanted to move. After an hour, my headache was gone, my ass had feeling back, and I felt motivated to write, something I hadn’t felt in months of lethargy. I left the gym and hurried home to dig back into my writing. That night, after finalizing some notes for the next day’s writing, I realized that all the day’s productivity and creativity came during and after my hour at the gym. Maybe I was onto something.
Research has shown that even moderate physical activity increases creativity. For writers who spend countless hours in a chair only moving their fingertips, some type of aerobic exercise – even a walk around the house or a yogo session – provides benefits. Although the BIC method of writing does help us to develop a regular writing practice, sometimes it’s just as important and necessary to get up and move. Listen to your body. If your creative juices have stalled and your butt is numb, get moving.
Tell me what you think.
How have you balanced your writing with exercise, or do you?
Is it a choice between one or the other?