View Full Version : Working out and writing

08-01-2008, 07:37 AM
Does anyone else find that a good run or other workout is helpful?

It sounds contradictory, but I always seems to have more energy after a run, not to mention more ideas, and often solutions to tricky plot corners I worked myself into.

08-01-2008, 07:39 AM
I certainly find that a good walk is helpful. More ideas seem to come to me while I'm walking, or I can find solutions to writing problems I've been having.

08-01-2008, 07:59 AM
Something mindless, like jogging, walking or swimming, tends to let the mind wander, though I have had the odd idea in aerobics class, as well.

Exercise is a great way to ease fatigue, stress and "blow out the cobwebs", as they say.

Danger Jane
08-01-2008, 08:05 AM
I can definitely think more clearly when I have just returned from a yoga class, especially, but also a good jog. Gets all my circulation, uh, circulating. To my brain.

08-01-2008, 08:11 AM
I read of the "Artist Walk". It may have been in Twyla Tharpe's book on creativity (not sure).

But the idea is to get out, get moving, and do it alone so that your mind can absorb everything around you. I would imagine the same for jogging.

Susan Breen
08-01-2008, 06:13 PM
Definitely. In fact, I should go out right now...

08-01-2008, 06:14 PM
No question my excercise routine helps with creativity. I work out in the mornings (headed out in a few minutes) and plenty of good creative problem solving happens on the cardio cycle. Not so much on the weight machines though - too much concentration for that.

And coming back afterwards, yeah - more energy for the keyboard sprint.

I did read this morning, that ONE hour of exercise is now recomended instead of thirty minutes. That means an extra fifteen each day for me.

Off to the gym!

08-01-2008, 06:23 PM
I agree entirely. A good walk is just the thing.

Well, a walk around the block with a cigarette, at any rate.

Harper K
08-01-2008, 07:50 PM
I think I wrote most of my WIP in my head on my nightly walks with my dog. I used to only walk with him for 15 - 20 minutes. Then, as I started getting more and more ideas on those walks, I extended them -- first to 30 minutes, then to 45. Sometimes we'll even walk for an hour or more. It's a good way to fill up the well, so to speak. I always come home full of ideas.

I also run (though not well) and take ballet classes. These help, too.

One of my favorite authors, Haruki Murakami, just came out with a book called What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, which is a memoir about the convergence of his experiences as a novelist with his experiences as a marathon runner (and ULTRA marathon runner! Ack). Recommended to the other cardio-inspired writers out there.

08-01-2008, 08:09 PM
I've been working out like crazy these few months (weights, swimming, basketball...) but it has done nothing for my writing.

I prefer a long drive when it comes to my writing...

I do like what I see in the mirror, though. ;)

Soccer Mom
08-01-2008, 08:21 PM
Going for a long run or walk is great for working out kinks in plots or brainstorming.

Playing sports? No, because that engages my brain. I can't think about plots when I'm thinking zone defense.

08-01-2008, 08:44 PM
I've exercised the past two days on a bike, and have in the past, but never notice any correlation between that and my writing. I also haven't noticed it improving my attitude. (I keep getting told that exercise is good for depression but so far, and despite efforts in the past, nada. I find that it might distract me while I'm doing it, but when it's over, the bad feelings come right back.)

If there ever is any relation, I think it might be because, while your body is working out, your brain has to find something else to do, so you might think more indepth about writing without being distracted by other things. I know that all sorts of thoughts go through my head when I'm on an exercise bike or taking a walk. Maybe some of those ideas could spark something for a story, but aside from that, working out doesn't seem to energize me to write or anything. But that's just me. *shrug*

*coming from someone who is rather sedentary but loves walking, if there were just more interesting places to walk around here*

08-01-2008, 09:57 PM
Does anyone else find that a good run or other workout is helpful?

It sounds contradictory, but I always seems to have more energy after a run, not to mention more ideas, and often solutions to tricky plot corners I worked myself into.

Yeah, I keep my digital microrecorder handy in the truck, and after my early AM workout, I often find myself pouring ideas onto the recorder almost as fast as I can speak. Definite brain stimulator.

08-01-2008, 10:14 PM
Funny you should mention that. During the summer, I go work out at the gym and then go to the Panera down the street from it and write for hours.

When I'm stuck and at home, I usually do some quilting to get myself thinking again. During certain things, like chain piecing or ironing, I can specifically think about my writing situation. During other things I have to concentrate on the task at hand, but I'll usually return ready to write some more because my mind has been engaged and is active again.


Old Hack
08-01-2008, 11:32 PM
Joyce Carol Oates is one of the most prolific writers out there. She runs compulsively, and I'm pretty sure that she's said in interviews and articles that she needs to run in order to write.

I write better when I'm fitter. And I write more when I have time to excercise more. Sadly, having a family means I have little time for either. But yes, I do think there's a direct correlation between exercise and writing. For me and for Joyce, at least.

08-01-2008, 11:43 PM
I don't run but I do take my dog for an hour long walk through a conservation area...uphill, downhill, rugged terrain, etc. I find I get so much think-writing done during that time. I can't wait to get to the car to jot stuff down that I can later slingshot off of. Pump the pedals to pump the neurons.

Alpha Echo
08-01-2008, 11:46 PM
I agree. Which reminds me I need to get my butt to the gym.

08-02-2008, 09:49 AM
haha, I thought I was the only one!! Whenever I have a writer's block, I go out for a walk and come back with a bunch of ideas!~!

08-02-2008, 12:46 PM
Blood circulation is important to creative thinking. It would only make sense that working out would help writers.

Personally, I swim 20 or so laps and then walk up to the grocer. That's always worth about 1000 words. :)

08-03-2008, 02:46 AM
Definitely. I go for a 10K run, or go work out in the local gym for an hour, and I feel refreshed (ironically enough). The blood is flowing, my mind is cleared, and I'm ready for a cold glass of iced tea and my laptop. If you're having writers block, then I recommend it.

Thomma Lyn
08-03-2008, 06:46 AM
Exercise is one of the best things I've found for my creativity. I'm lucky enough to live near mountains, and I hike regularly there. Being so close to nature on a regular basis really helps keep my creative well filled. :)

And I take a notebook with me, because when I hike, my mind pops with ideas!

08-03-2008, 07:04 AM
This thread has inspired me to start working out again. I used to be an avid exerciser years ago, but fell off the wagon when my work hours got out of control. Thanks for the inspiration!

Danger Jane
08-03-2008, 07:21 AM
Going for a long run or walk is great for working out kinks in plots or brainstorming.

Playing sports? No, because that engages my brain. I can't think about plots when I'm thinking zone defense.

Sports were good for me since I was goalie :tongue Three to five minutes of action every thirty minutes, so I did a lot of contemplation out on the field and still got my couple of laps in. The time commitment is tough though...it's hard to have time to write when you're busy doing sprints 3 hours a day every day after school--but before homework*.

Luckily, I seem to have good reflexes.

*This assumes homework is actually important, of course.

08-05-2008, 04:50 AM
I don't run far, much, or well, I assure you, tehuti. In my natural state I'm a sedentary creature, I just force myself to be otherwise every now and then.


08-05-2008, 05:26 AM
My acupuncturist always talks about energy getting stuck, and exercise (especially running, walking, etc) can free it up. So there's something there about flow. If you're not exercising it's easier to get blocked. When your conscious mind is focused on what your body is doing your subconscious can get working on stories.

I've certainly been known to take a long walk for the sole purpose of generating ideas. Sometimes it works, but usually not when I'm planning for the ideas to come.

The Grift
08-06-2008, 07:52 PM
I find it difficult to do. My laptop doesn't fit very well on the treadmill, people look at me funny with a typewriter on the weight bench, and it's damn near impossible to write in a moleskine when trail-running. My writing is too ragged to read afterwards.

Now, incorporating working out and running AT SEPARATE TIMES in one's life is great.

08-06-2008, 11:24 PM
Does anyone else find that a good run or other workout is helpful?

It depends. A workout usually gives me a good burst of energy, the time/solitude to think about my story, and a very strong desire to sit on my butt for an hour or two afterwards in SPITE of that burst of energy. So, I'm usually very productive after a workout.

The only problem is when I've done a super hardcore upper body workout (I do high intensity weight training). If I've been doing some serious lifting, my hands and wrists have often had enough. NOTHING cuts through writer's block like WANTING to write but being physically incapable of it. LOL I've seriously considered dictating to my husband a couple of times because my hands were shaking so bad I couldn't type. LOL (Doesn't happen as often anymore, now that my muscles are a bit more accustomed to working that hard)

So working out before writing can be a double-edged sword for me. I will say that I have resolved many plot issues while on an elliptical or a weight bench. LOL