Self-care: move your body

I’m not saying you have to be a paragon of physical fitness.  All I’m saying is that, to the best of your ability and capacity, it behooves a writer to get some exercise.

Exercise to clear your mind

I’m not a personal trainer, and there are a million articles already out there about how exercise is good for you.

But if you’d like a personal testimonial, I will tell you that nothing clarifies me more quickly than a run with a good soundtrack.  I solve more problems after a run than I do any other time of day, and I also feel far less anxious, so I try to run three times a week, to make sure I’m giving myself the best chance at top notch analysis and processing.  When I can’t make it out for a run, I do some yoga or strength training and concentrate really hard on form, to create the same meditative effect that comes over me when my feet hit the ground.

Exercise to learn discipline

There are two types of discipline that I’ve learned from exercise.

First, I’ve learned about scheduling time and pushing myself to use that time well.  The little wins, like when I run the full twenty minutes, instead of stopping at nineteen and calling it “close enough,” set me up to honor other blocks of time in my day and achieve to my full potential.

Second, I’ve learned to think of exercise as something that is entirely my own.  When you expend a lot of effort on others—writing for an audience, holding down a day job, seeing to family needs—it’s just good to have something that is for you and you alone.  I have learned to protect this time and to trust that I am worth my own efforts.

Be reasonable

Since you’re exercising for your own benefit, and no one else’s, that means you are not under any pressure to achieve any result you don’t feel like achieving.  You don’t have to look great for an event or lose thirty pounds in a month or rock beach season or do any of the other crap people try to tell you exercise is for.  Your characters love you no matter what.  They’re not going to fat shame you or leer at you or critique your bad days at the gym.

(Unless you’ve written some real assholes, in which case, who cares what they think.)

So. Pick an exercise you like, do it to the best of your ability, enjoy the feeling of getting better at it, and ride those endorphins into your next brainstorm.

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Historian, novelist, musician, and imagination professional.

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