Exercise the Writer's Mind

My last blog talked about the dreaded phenomenon of Writer’s Block, and last week’s article in The Woolf told of the advantages of displacement on a writer’s retreat with the intention of triggering creativity. Basically, getting writers out of their comfort zone.

When I’m not flexing my fingers on the keyboard, you’ll often find me in my kayak, on my bike, running forest trails, or cross-country skiing, depending on the season. All these activities not only keep me fit, they also exercise my mind.

An increased heart rate sends oxygen to the hard working muscles of my body, the most important of which is my brain. Okay, I know the brain isn’t really a muscle, but using specific functions certainly makes it stronger, and for that it benefits from oxygen-rich blood. In addition, endorphins give me a euphoric feel-good attitude – nature’s happy drug. You might think as a crime writer this may be counter-intuitive, especially if I intend to write a particularly dark narrative. But if I didn’t have the energy, I would be struggling to find my creative mojo in the first place, whatever the genre.

As I get older, I have cut back on competing in marathons and triathlons as my body protests with aches and pains. But I still enjoy a gentle sport regime. My fingers and wrists suffer a fair amount of daily abuse in their workout on the keyboard. Away from the computer, the alternative positioning of my wrists on a kayak paddle, handlebars of a bike or ski poles helps me to partially alleviate the effects of repetitive strain injury.

Aside from the obvious benefits of exercise, if the words won’t come, my sport of choice means it’s impossible for me to have access to my keyboard, pen and paper, or voice notes. In our uncanny universe of probable outcomes (Murphy’s or Sod’s, take your pick), ideas come unbidden when I don’t have the means to record them. If my short-term memory doesn’t fail me like my aching joints, I dash off these new words or scenes as soon as I come through the door, before they dissolve from the pre-frontal cortex of my brain.

So don’t despair, get up, get out, change your air, take the dog, look out rather than in, and the words will find release. 

Take a walk around your writer’s block.