I used to smoke and drink a lot. I’m 40 now. I still drink, but I quit the cigs a long time ago, and do more exercise than ever before. I think I write better as a result.
When I was in my late twenties and starting out writing, I imagined writers as dark shadows sitting in poorly lit rooms bent over wobbly tables, cigarette burning in one hand, pen in the other. I tried that approach, but I don’t think I wrote anything of note. I was pretending to be a writer you see. Playing the part of the writer as depicted in movie scenes like the one I’ve described above.
It was all an act. A fraud. A writer is just a person who writes. You don’t have to smoke, or drink, or sit in a damp room, or at a knackered table, or drink heavily. Of course it happens. It happened to me. Which is why I try and keep to hard exercise these days rather than hard liquor. For the simple reason I write better.
For the past eleven months I’ve had nature on my doorstep which has given me the strength to write my book. Because that’s another thing I’ve learned. It’s not all about having the blinding ideas, or that magical turn of phrase. It’s about having the strength to sit down and do it.
I’m a sloucher you see. Always have been. I sit awkwardly on chairs and benches, my legs crossed and twisted around each other like tentacles. I even got to the point a few years ago where I could hardly walk, my back was so sore due to my mangled posture. So I started getting fit. Developing my muscles so that I was able to sit straight for long periods without slouching. The same reason people do yoga, so they can sit cross-legged at will for long periods in order to meditate. I applied the same logic and it worked.
That’s the physical side. The mental side is probably more obvious. My mind is simply clearer. I can move ideas around in my head that were previously wedged in or obstructed. Construct passages of prose in my mind like they were marbles in my hand. Rolling them around in my palm to get the right feel before slotting them into the narrative. Like a crane on a building site that’s been given permission to move wherever it wants in order to finish the job.
The freedom to get my ideas and feelings down on paper without feeling guilty. The confidence to express myself in any way I want without being told off. The belief that if I want something I can have it. The faith in that what I’m doing is the best thing I’ve ever done.
I’m not saying exercise works for everyone, but it works for me:
(PS. Needs sound)