Will Exercise and Breaks Enhance Your Creativity?

Via Pixabay
Via Pixabay

Winter has now deposited her snow-white goodness from coast to coast. Some of us are snowed in for the first time this season. Others have been snowed in so long they must feel like Eskimos.

Couple the winter weather doldrums with writing most of the day, and what do you have?

Likely, a grumpy writer with aches and pains and stiff joints.

We’ve all heard the quotes, and we try to adhere to good advice given. But let’s take a moment and reflect on what Mary Heaton Vorse had to say about writing:

The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.

One should ask though if Vorse intended for the seat of your pants to maintain contact with the chair for extended periods of time.

How to remedy the bodily damage we’re doing while sitting all day?

Exercise! And if given an opportunity, physical exercise just might enhance creativity.

Here are some tips for getting out of the chair and improving your creativity at the same time:

  • Get up out of that chair and go take a walk. Just 15-20 minutes, a walk around the block will not only relieve your joints and spine but also feed your brain with some much-needed oxygen via fresh air. Or if you have a gym membership, put it to good use and head there three or four times a week.
  • Play a musical instrument? Take a few minutes during the day to enjoy that creative experience. Perhaps the music you select will feed that part of your brain searching for artistic phrasing in your written work.
  • Meditation won’t exercise your body but it is calming and relieves the stresses that build in our bodies as we sit in front of a desk and computer. And the mind-clearing benefits of meditation will only enhance your writing.
  • Build a rhythm into your writing life so that you have some time off during the week, when everything writing disengages. Try to keep your life on normal footing, especially if you have a family. Meet a friend for coffee, catch up with a neighbor over the fence, call your kids and grandkids. This sounds like a no-brainer but it is essential to keep yourself healthy, inspired, and in touch with others.
  • Daily inspiration will keep you feeling good about yourself and your writing. Listen to a TED talk you’ve wanted to hear, maybe you missed the last NAMW conference and the audio file is waiting on your desktop, or perhaps there is an audio book you listen to. Find a way to be inspired by others.
  • Lastly, do something that matters. Whether it’s writing a blog post on something that matters to writers, or volunteering at the local homeless shelter, or babysitting grandkids so the kids can have a date night — do something that matters. You feel great afterwards!
Via Google Images
Via Google Images

The current weather situation in many parts of our country doesn’t entice one to go outdoors, but many of these suggestions don’t need the outdoors for exercise. But keep in mind that a brief step outside to get the mail or to fill the bird feeder will offer an intake of fresh air that can’t be beat for brightening up those brain cells for the next few hours of writing.

Q4U: What do you do to keep physically and mentally fit when writing? I’d love if you’d share below so that we can benefit one another with our ideas and suggestions.

23 thoughts on “Will Exercise and Breaks Enhance Your Creativity?

  1. Reblogged this on Lisa Reiter – Sharing the Story and commented:Substitute rain for snow and Sherrey may well have been addressing me directly here! With the incredible wet run we’ve had in the UK, I have avoided getting out for a regular walk round the block for several weeks and apart from now feeling a bit lardy, my back is playing up and preventing me from sitting altogether – hence my silence and time to share another’s words of wisdom.
    I am missing ‘thinking through my fingers’ as it’s nearly as good as conversation with a listening friend – but on the upside my ironing mountain is now a mere molehill !

  2. Sherrey, this is such an important reminder to all of us “butt-in-the-chair” writers to get up and move around. Going outside is even better. It clears the mind and makes room for more creative ideas. Any exercise we do–neck exercises, getting up and walking around the room,etc–is better than just sitting,which I can easily do especially if I am in a writing zone. I make a point of going to the gym 3-5 times per week to counteract all the sitting I do. Just plain walking is great, too but this snowy winter has put a damper on that. I’m with Carol. Think Spring! Thanks for a great post.

    1. Kathy, I’m glad you came by and joined the discussion. Yes, it is something that we easily lose sight of while writing or doing any other sedentary activity. I love just walking around the house to get my joints moving but more importantly to breathe in the air! Yes, think Spring, and soon She’ll be here with more opportunities to get outside! Thanks for sharing, Kathy.

  3. An interesting idea I read about once, but haven’t tried yet, is to sit on one of those exercise balls while you type instead of sitting in a regular chair. The other thing I do to stay fit, but not while I right, is I do a bit of yoga almost every night.

    1. I’ve used one of the balls before when typing, and once you get used to it there’s quite a difference in how your body responds to sitting. Wonder where that ball is now? Yoga, I’m told, is a good relaxer but with my fused spine, it doesn’t work for me. Wish it did!

  4. Great – and important – topic, Sherrey. Walking is the best regular outlet for me. Even in the winter when I am resigned to the treadmill. But lots of things get rid of the cobwebs and release the creative juices. I’m taking a drawing class this winter. I’ve signed up for a web based writing class in March. Time in the Botanical Center gives me a respite from the snow and cold. The thing that’s going to help me most, though, is seeing green instead of white outside my window. Think Spring!

    1. I love walking too, Carol. Don’t have a treadmill but use a recumbent exercise bike indoors in winter. Love that your drawing on another creative avenue to do a change up in your activities, and I’m learning that taking a step away to do some quilting or knitting is also a good break. And yes, those first bursts of green lift my spirits too. Our hellebores bloomed early this year, and then we had snow. Yesterday, I was able to see their amazing green leaves and the blooms still fresh as ever!! Felt so much better afterwards. Let’s all think spring!

  5. This is the one time of year when I’m so happy I live in South Florida because I can get out every day to walk or ride my bike. Instead of taking a nap during that midafternoon slump, I find that getting outside really helps me stay sharp and creative for the rest of the afternoon. On those rare days when I don’t get out, I notice a real difference in my energy levels by dinnertime.

    1. Ahhh, Candace, the beauty of living in South Florida! Where the sun shines warm on your back … as opposed to other areas of our great country. Granted we in the Pacific NW have had only one snowfall that snarled traffic and closed schools, BUT the rains and flooding have returned. They are not conducive to walking or biking right now but your exercises are the ones I love. Good point on the days you don’t take a break and get outside how that slump in energy levels hits at the dinner hour. Thanks for joining in the chat!

  6. I’m finding that a walk at the end of the afternoon is good for me. But I feel best when I can get “real” exercise. And salad and chocolate for dinner ;).

  7. Quit smoking and coffee, so next up is an exercise routine. One thing I do when in the chair for long stretches is some easy chair exercises…move feet to tippy toes then release, toe curls, and a few moves with my hands and arms. Great blog topic, Sherrey!

    1. Patti, I’m so impressed with your success giving up smoking and coffee. Not a smoker, but I do love my coffee! Like your easy chair stretches — I’ll have to try. Thanks for stopping by, and when you get home, we have to schedule a meetup halfway between us somewhere. 🙂

  8. I have to exercise first thing in the morning. After that I’m ready to go with my writing. It’s a great jump start. My problem is I don’t get up enough once I put the seat of my pants on that chair. Thanks, Sherrey for posting this great advice.

    1. Madeline, I need to develop your discipline for exercising first thing in the morning. Then when I sit down to write, the exercising is done. My mind and body have been jump-started and cared for, respectively, and I can get on with the fun part of my day.

  9. For me, no exercising means the words don’t come as easily and any stress and anxiety just gets worse. I tried locking myself away to write for hours at a time but it just didn’t work. I need to see friends, cook, garden and have fun. Thanks for a great reminder post.

    1. You are not alone in your need to see friends, cook, garden and have fun. And no exercising does more damage to us than we often realize, as you mention with stress and anxiety. Good points — thanks for sharing them.

  10. lovely post Sherrey thank you. I take a walk (in the heat of our South African summer) maybe a swim .. it’s amazing to me as I swing my arms while walking how I rephrase and re-think whatever is on my mind, usually about my writing. Being observant of nature around me seems to pique something – perhaps another area of my brain.All your suggestions are excellent thank you .. and if one doesn’t play a musical instrument one can always play music ..

  11. I’ve just got a new puppy and in two weeks he will have had his second inoculation and I’ll have a good reason to pop out and let the wind blow through my dusty brain cells.

    1. What a delightful excuse to exercise! A new puppy should also keep you running to keep him away from slippers, socks and more. Enjoy him and your new form of exercise.

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