I never believed in writer’s block until I was working on my last manuscript. I did everything right. I had detailed character sketches. I plotted and wrote a wonderful synopsis and first three chapters which sold “A Spy Unmasked” to a publisher. I pulled out all the tricks I learned at writing workshops. I raised the stakes, I put the characters in an impossible situation, I heightened the emotional and external conflict, and then…well…nothing. I was stuck. I wrote myself in a corner.
For the first time, I had writer’s block.
I knew about writer’s block, of course. I was just fortunate enough never to experience it. Let me first say that I was working nonstop. I love the story about a sexy Regency era spy, an emotionally damaged hero who blames himself on the death of his wife after one of his missions goes terribly awry. He’s forced to work with a feisty, intelligent heroine who wants revenge for her father’s murder. It’s a great love story with a hint of mystery. But I was working part time, writing, stopping to get the kids off the bus and seeing to their needs, and then writing all night. I was ignoring my needs.
“You look awful,” my best girlfriend said.
What a wake up call.
I felt awful. I used to regularly swim laps and take gym classes, but I mistakenly thought this was the one aspect of my life I could sacrifice. It’s not like I could ignore the day job, kids or family, right?
We’ve all heard that exercise can decrease stress, increase muscle tone, and even help reduce the risk of certain types of cancer. But can it help writers?
I got back in the pool. Between laps of freestyle and breaststroke something miraculous happened. I figured out a way to write my characters out of their corner. I fixed the plot, and the book is much better for it.
So does swimming cure writer’s block? Not really, but exercise stimulates creativity. I don’t need to cite scientific articles. I’ll just say it worked for me.
Other ways writers can squeeze exercise in their busy schedules is to swap a desk chair for an exercise ball. This helps tighten core muscles, back stability, and circulation in the legs. It’s not as easy as it looks though. It took several days for me to get used to sitting on an exercise ball and I don’t use it all the time. I try to swap it for my desk chair every hour. Another simple method is to set a timer and walk for the last ten minutes of every hour. It’s amazing how many steps I take on my pedometer.
I’ve also heard of authors who use voice recognition software to write while they exercise or scrub the bathtub. And there are those who can afford a treadmill desk.
However you choose to fit exercise in your busy schedule, you will be happy to know that you are stimulating creativity. Your body as well as your work-in-progress will be better for it!
So have you ever experienced writer’s block? How did you deal with it? And how do you fit exercise into your schedule? I’d love hear your views, so please share!
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