Today, I worked out for the first time in months. I think many writers are in the same boat. Or chair, or couch.
What we do is so cerebral, and so time-consuming, that our bodies can start to seem unimportant.
Our writing minds are taxed to their limits. Writing takes every synapse we have, and some we didn't even know about.
Right now, I'm in the middle of constructing a world in my head. Historical novelists have to worldbuild just like fantasy novelists, at least if we want our novels to have a lot of texture. The difference is that our constructions have to match the historical record. So while I'm constructing this world, including two major settings and two ethnic cultures, full of objects and events I must cram into my brain, my body sits idle on the chair.
Just as it sat idle for months while I worked on the edits for novel #1 and completely rewrote novel #2.
I could feel my muscles loosening, bones weakening, and ligaments tightening. But I didn't have time to work out.
Or did I?
Because today, after I finished whinging to my daughter's gymnastics coach about my pathetic state of fitness, I went home and put on my workout DVD, which hasn't seen the light of day in at least a year. I had forgotten all about the workout DVD option.
And I rode my recumbent bike for a while. It sits right in my living room. I can even read while I'm on it.
A year ago, I resolved to help my daughter become healthy after months of respiratory infections. Last Christmas, she was a tiny, skinny, coughing child who could have starred as Tiny Tim. Now, she is a muscle-packed athlete, still tiny, but strong and healthy, with color in her cheeks. I made her health my number one priority. It required dedication from both of us. It involved allergy medicine and a fair amount of money for organized athletic activities, but it has been worth every minute and every penny.
The moral of my daughter's story is that my own poor state of fitness is simply a matter of priorities. Will it be important to me to take care of this physical temple that holds and sustains my mind and spirit? Or will I let it decay more rapidly than it should, for lack of maintenance and effort?
After my workout today, soothed by music and challenged by strength-building exercises, I felt wonderful. And any activity that pumps blood through our bodies also pumps it through our brains. Though I can be tempted to think that I don't have time to exercise because "I have to write," the truth is that I will be a better writer if I'm healthier and fitter.
This year, I'm going to take care of the whole temple, not just feed the altar fires.
How about you? Do you write better after you've been physically active, taken a walk, or otherwise sent that blood pumping through the brain? Do you struggle as I do to find the time and motivation to take care of the temple?