Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Exercise of Writing

I've managed to stay on a regular exercise regimen for the past few months, more or less. (You try exercising with a head cold. Not fun.) Part of my reason for doing so is that, well, it's necessary. I had my doctor actually mention the word "cholesterol" during my last physical, and frankly I thought it was far too early to that. I also have a little one who is steadily getting heavier and doesn't understand why this should affect Daddy's ability to carry her up the stairs.

So I've been trying to do better. Lately that has me down in the living room in the evening watching "Good Eats" from the Food Network as I do my thing. Yes, I am aware of the irony of working out while watching a food show. But it's fun, it's educational... and perhaps in it's own way even motivational. Besides, it's 30 minutes and I don't have a clock in the room I exercise in.

What does this have to do with writing, you ask? Two things.

First of all, it gives me head space. (Even if I'm sort of watching tv. That's what commercials are for.) One of the things I like about the particular modes of exercise I do is that they can be done alone. Mind you it might be more fun to have some company - yoga comes to mind as better with a friend - but by doing so alone it gives me time during the day when I can just be by myself and largely let my mind do whatever it wants. Exercising is all muscle memory, and as the nature of what I do tends to be repetitive, there isn't much else to think about.

I don't always use it to work out writing-related issues in my head, but there have been more than a few plot points solved in that half an hour. Swimming was by far the best for this, but as I don't have a pool either in my house or conveniently close by, that's out for now.

The second aspect of what this has to do with writing is that I have found if I can establish and maintain a routine in one area of my life, it becomes much easier to do so in others. It doesn't directly translate, as it has not imposed a housework schedule on me. That hasn't happened since I moved out of mom's house, though it does get done. But by being able to create a schedule that I stick to, even on the days when I think I really don't want to, it encourages me to know that I can do this.

Writing is somewhat like exercise, only without the need for a shower afterwards. (Usually.) It's something that if you're going to do it, and have any illusions at all about being any good at it, you have to do it as regularly as possible. Someone whose opinion I respect reminded me of this recently, and I mulled it over as I was working out later on that day. This person was right, of course, because writing is a discipline that must be engaged in every day. Otherwise it's too easy to let those writing muscles sag and you add on those extra pounds of procrastination and ... and I think that's as far as I can comfortably stretch that metaphor. Possibly farther.

In my case, it's also done alone, as that's when I work best. Not that I don't have interruptions, but it works best when I can be in my own space.

Though having the tv on when writing does not help at all.

1 comment:

cellasboots said...

I liked this one a lot :)