“The idea for this post hit me today when I was at the gym, sweating profusely,” writes Larry Brooks in a blog post called “Blood, Sweat and Words: How Badly Do You Want This?”
As I read his guest post on the blog “Write To Done,” I was reminded once again with how often we hear about the connection between mind and body.
Brooks continues, “There’s something about taking yourself to the wall, to the point of the sweet pain that signals you’ve given it everything. Kinesiologists will tell you that’s an endorphin high. Nothing but bio-chemicals kicking in. Funny thing about bio-chemicals, though: they can take you to places you wouldn’t go otherwise.”
“I realized that I have, on occasion, experienced that same exhilarating high about my writing. And then, between sets on a machine inspired by something out of a medieval dungeon, it hit me: I don’t do that enough. I couldn’t wait to get home and start writing this post,” Brooks writes.
A feeling similar to what Brooks describes struck me this morning, though I wasn’t feeling the “sweet pain” Brooks mentions nor was I in anything remotely related to a dungeon. In my aerobics class, moving to the rhythm of such music as the great ‘70s hit “I Will Survive,” I once again found myself in a moment when my mind was on its own. With no prompting, no worrying, I was suddenly thinking through a bit of writing I had been wrestling with.
This afternoon I asked a dissertation coaching client if she could recall a time when ideas about her writing had come to her with no bidding, no prodding when she was exercising or, perhaps, taking a walk. In a slightly surprised voice, she said, “I’ve never thought about that.” Then she said, “But it’s hard to write when I’m in a grumpy mood.”
Award-winning Irish novelist Michael Collins combines exercise and writing in a spectacular way. A serious runner, he runs races in mountains, hills, and the desert. When he trains, he always brings along a pencil and paper and will stop to write down a few words that will inspire him when he’s writing and resting later that day. He says that starting to write a book in his mind while he is running “has always been the most natural process.” Having the “release of endorphins [as he runs] frees up ideas.”
Almost any kind of exercise will elevate your mood and create the perfect circumstance for you to become aware of ideas about your writing that your mind has been working on.
If you can go straight to your computer or desk after exercising, you will very likely find that writing will be easier for you then than at other times during your day. And it is always easier to write when you’re in a good mood and when you’ve been thinking about ideas for your writing.
Have you ever had a breakthrough in your writing as a result of exercising? I’d love to hear from you.
All good wishes,
Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC
Your International Dissertation Coach and Academic Career Coach
nancy @ nancywhichard.com