Saturday, January 8, 2011

Butt in the Chair--Find a Balance for Writing and Health

Image: Pixomar /

 We are a week into 2011! How is it going with your resolutions, goals, targets--whatever you call the things tied to the beginning of a New Year that keep you motivated? Of course, I am hoping that your word counts are rich and full--an early springtime of Creativity! But what about those other, non-writing goals? Like staying healthy?

Keeping our butts in the chairs, while crucial to our writing, can be detrimental to our "bottom lines." But don't use your love of writing as an excuse to stay unhealthy.* This past holiday season, my husband and I took part in a local contest to see how much weight we could LOSE between December 1 and January 12. I plan to write more about it later in my personal blog, but one thing I've learned is that seemingly impossible obstacles can be overcome if your mindset can change. How else can I explain how my husband (a lover of all things chocolate) has spent the season of cookies and fudge chopping fresh veggies for salads and sticking to a strict running regimen for the past 40 days? So, in true Excuse Editor fashion, I offer you the following:

Making Writing Healthy 
(Instead of Letting Your Butt Grow to the Size of the Chair it Sits In)

Today's Excuse: If I exercise today, I'm taking away from my writing.
Excuse Editor's Tip: Not working out can harm  your writing.

Physical exercise gets your blood flowing throughout your whole body, including your creation center, your brain. You may notice that your thinking is a bit sharper, a bit quicker. The next time you find yourself stuck, move through your block with a walk around the block. Set your mind on the walk, and the movement, and the good you are doing your body. Take in your surroundings, your feelings, acknowledge your breath. Behind the scenes, your mind is working; it's storing up those creative juices to use when it's your typing fingers that will be getting the workout.

Exercise teaches you to push through the hard stuff to achieve your goals. Have you ever taken a spinning class?** It's a great workout, but there are a few times where you just want it to be over, already. And yet, minutes later, after the cruel instructor has forced you to climb a virtual hill, you find your legs are again spinning at a coasting pace, and it doesn't feel so bad, after all. 

There are times where your writing blocks threaten to steal your breath, or when marketing your work seems like an uphill battle. When you are spinning, you learn that breathing will help get you through the challenge; you can't just hold your breath when the writing journey gets tough, either. If you stay the course, you will make it to a section that will feel like coasting. You just have to allow yourself to get there.

Can you write your best while worrying about your health? Granted, not all health problems can be cured by exercise. But there sure are a heck of a lot that can. If exercising for health is something you believe (or your doctor believes) you should be doing, spending a part of your day will give you the satisfaction that you have taken steps today to make things better. It's not going to happen all at once, but neither is finishing your novel. Just as you started with a goal of 300 words a day toward your novel, and that moved to 1000, then to a chapter--your exercise goals will build upon each other as well. Maybe today it's 10 minutes, tomorrow 15. Taken in small steps, both goals can achieved, eliminating the need to worry. You are doing what you can.

Keep Going with all of your Goals! Good Luck!

*(If you read last week's post, you know that I am an ex-smoker. In college, I couldn't get a paper done without a certain amount of ashes falling into my typewriter--yeah, I said typewriter. I would say the cigarettes "helped me think". Not true.)

**I took a few during this contest, and, in the spirit of sharing, I offer you the link to the story in the local paper complete with embarrassing photo of me after surviving 45 minutes of spinning. I've lost just over 6 lbs. so far, but more importantly, my cholesterol levels are healthier--and I can get into more of the clothes in my closet! 


  1. I've never taken a spinning class, but I sure do identify with your exercise/writing analogy! I have a quarter-mile uphill section on my walking route and it continues to challenge me after all these years. But I need it :-) As for the mind working behind the scenes while exercising, that's true for me, too. I also get new ideas or work through knotty problems in a writing project along the way that I wouldn't otherwise get sitting in front of the computer. Thanks for the encouragement to keep at it :-)

  2. Health and exercise are definitely important to a writer, especially because we do spend so much of our time sitting. :)

    I agree with this whole heartedly, "seemingly impossible obstacles can be overcome if your mindset can change."

    And exercise, beyond the physical benefits of more energy, increased happiness, self-esteem, and overall better health, exercise does help one's mentality.

    You wrote that exercise teaches us to push ourselves to achieve our goals. It's true. I ran cross country, which is very much a mental sport. It teaches one about persistence, drive, motivation, consistency, relaxation, letting go, and a whole lot more.

    This can translate to writer's block, and being able to use that same drive to achieve your writing goals.


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