A couple of months ago I found a nugget of writing advice in a non-writing magazine. Because I only have the clipping, I don’t remember from which magazine I harvested this tidbit. If I’m guessing based on my current subscriptions, it’s either from All You Magazine or Dr. Oz The Good Life Magazine. I know it’s from the December 2014 issue, because the date is on the back of the clipping, but that’s all I know.
In any event, the clipping said researchers at Stanford conducted a study that suggests getting outside and taking a walk is a good way to get your creative juices flowing. It’s not the same thing to hop on the treadmill at the gym – getting outside and communing with nature is the key to taking out your mental trash (if you will) so you can come back to your project refreshed. Where I live in the South, success may depend on just how much nature you can comfortably stand.
I’ve had a fair amount of luck with this but it’s only helpful if I’m walking alone. Most mornings, I exercise with a friend and if we are walking together and our mouths are running a faster mile than we are, I’m not thinking about my book. We’re talking about our jobs, our husbands, our families, what we’re doing this weekend…literally hundreds of other things that don’t have anything to do with my character and her problems. It’s usually the days I’m walking on the beach by myself looking for sand dollars that I’m able to work through whatever corner I’ve written myself into.
I don’t have the same success on a treadmill. In the gym, I’m watching the TV mounted on the machine, I’m watching other people around me, I’m hoping they don’t see my flab bouncing around, and I’m really hoping I don’t trip and fly off the thing. The last thing I’m worried about is whether or not my protagonist is old enough to remember the Civil War after she’s narrated for the reader that she remembers the union soldiers taking over the plantation.
Getting outside for a walk is helpful for other things too – I came up with some pretty good Christmas present ideas for my husband this year. It’s amazing what comes to you when you get rid of the crazy bits piled up in your head.
Maybe that’s been my problem lately – it’s been too cold for beach walking. I haven’t been able to add to my sand dollar collection OR empty my brain’s recycle bin. Hurry up, spring, my book needs you!