I consider myself pretty sporty. I run quite a lot. I regularly spend solid hours in the gym doing weights and using the cardio machines a few days every week. I do yoga. I do karate and I do aikido, and I walk everywhere I can. And the irony is, I don’t do it because I’m sporty, and I am absolutely no one of those ‘gym is life’ people who meticulously weigh the protein and drink those revolting milkshakes. I do it because it helps me write and without it Hummingbird wouldn’t have happened.
Writing and fitness takes exactly the same dedication.
Number one. Writing means hours, and days sitting at a computer.
1 – that will do nothing for your posture and is a slow descent into back pain. And once you sit down to write, and you get uncomfortable quickly it can destroy your concentration or really break up the flow of the scene you are working on.
2 – the body is built to move, being sedentary, especially as your years advance-which is inevitable- just isn’t good for anyone. I know when I don’t get enough exercise I feel tired all the time, sometimes too tired to sit down and put the hours into a manuscript that it needs.
When you are refining your work you need to be awake and alert.
3 – when you starting getting into sport, or fitness, or gym, or whatever you want to call it, you start out and the first weeks there isn’t much to show for it except a bit of a buzz and the urge to tell all your friends. It’s the same with starting a new book. Those first few weeks it’s a bit rushed, you jump around characters a lot. It takes a while to get to into your stride and start being able to put down some solid pages in a session. Sound-gym-familiar?
4 – Sitting up, arms resting on a table, only moving your hands, but not that much, as your fingers fly across a keyboard is extremely bad for shoulders and neck in my opinion (I am not a doctor or in any way medically trained). Those micro-movements I make from the elbow up are enough to make it hard for me to get comfortable on my pillow and then sleep stays away and the next day I’m grumpy and tired and I don’t want to write regardless of what I had on my schedule for the day. And that’s never good.
Number 2 – books -in my opinion-need to be planned.
5 – just like you plan your training for your sport or gym session, I feel you should plan what you are going to do with your writing time. I used to aimlessly sit down and write whatever came next into my head. That led to a lot of rewriting and some chapters that never advanced the story. What I know is that my story is complete in my mind, I know where I want to take the reader, and so I plan out how I’m going to take them there, what mechanisms I want to use to tell that story, and I set out how I’m going to write it. It’s the same with a fitness goal.
I have a lot of things I’m aiming for. A 10k race in November. Yoga and hiking in Iceland in October. Getting the Giant’s Echo edited and out by Christmas-if possible. Next year, maybe a half marathon, and a marathon who knows. Finishing the Barclan series and writing a book of short stories. Oh and Japan yoga and martial arts in November. None of it will happen unless I plan and work toward all those goals. And the only way I stick to the writing and am clear headed and feel comfortable enough to spend those sometimes 8 hours a day at a desk writing hardly moving is because what I put my mind through, I put my body through.
And as I’ve been weaving into The Hummingbird’s Tear and The Giant’s Echo, the mind and body is one.