Wednesday, April 10, 2013

How losing a dress size can help you finish that first draft:)

Write even when you don't feel like writing. There is no muse. It's hard work. You can always edit a bad page, but you can't edit a blank page -Jodi Picoult

Last week I struggled with finding the motivation to do two of my favorite things-Writing and working out. While I lay in bed watching episodes of The League with my husband, drinking wine, eating chocolate left over from Easter and fighting the overwhelming sense of guilt about not writing and working out, I started to think about the parallels between the two.

-For me-starting a workout or writing session is the hardest part-once I get started, it becomes easier and I always feel better once I've completed it.

-They are both habit-forming-the more I do it, the easier it gets. I can run longer, lift heavier weights when working out and similarly I can write more in a session. Somehow the flow in both my workout and my writing seems to require less effort, when I do it every day.

- I find both easier to accomplish when I set goals. For example, this week I started a 30 day squat challenge. Each day, I add more squats, with a rest day every fourth day...gradually building up to 260 at the end of the month. Similarly, I've worked backwards from my book deadline and set a target word count to be reached each week to get me to THE END. ( I set a weekly goal instead of a daily one because despite all the writing reference book's suggestions to write everyday, even for just a few minutes-let's face it, life happens and some days it just doesn't happen for me, so I've given myself permission not to totally freak out over it, causing me anxiety which will lead to writer's resistance, and I make up the missed words on another day. Slippery slope? Maybe, but as long as I hit the weekly total, I'm happy.)

So, after looking at these similarities and wondering why I've chosen two things that bring out such a love/hate relationship within me as the things I love to do, I dug a little deeper into the relationship between them and here is what I discovered...

-EXERCISE CAN HELP YOU WRITE BETTER! Wow, who knew? Okay, maybe the rest of you did...I'm a little slow.

Anyway, it turns out that physical activity increases blood flow to the brain, it also increases the growth of new neurons and improves their functioning. Not only that, but it also improves the connections between neurons. The more connected a brain is-the better it functions.

In addition to these facts, we all know excercise improves our mood, relieves depression and anxiety, which in turn will help chase away the limbic system which impedes on our creativity.

Plus, exercising increases our dopamine levels and a higher than average dopamine level is associated with creativity and our ability to visualize scenes in our mind.

Don't worry if you don't really understand all of the neuro-babble, I don't either. All I know is-anything I can do to help the creative and writing process, I'm willing to try...and dropping a dress size along the way is a fantastic side effect:)

So, who's willing to commit to twenty minutes of exercise a day?

xo
Jen

13 comments:

  1. Good morning, Jen! If dog-walking counts, I'm in. If I tried to do the squat challenge, you could probably use me as a coffee table for the rest of my life. Not much about me bends or flexes anymore. But I know you're right about how exercise helps creativity because I can see the difference on days when I can't get out for whatever reason.

    I live by that quote, also, but I've heard it attributed to Nora Roberts. Love Jody Picoult, too.

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    1. Hi Muriel!

      Yes, walking definitely counts:) I HATE squats, but all the women in my office are doing the challenge with me, so we keep each other motivated to reach the goal.

      lol, maybe Jodi was quoting Nora :)

      xo
      Jen

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  2. I'm trying to get back into the daily routine of exercising. Boy, it's hard work when you've been slack for a while! But you're right, it feels good once you get started. And the added benefit of exercising to get the mind working is an even better benefit. Especially when on a deadline!

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  3. No kidding! But it just seems like a catch 22-I'm under deadline...so should I be taking time out to exercise? lol:) I'm going to say 'yes'.

    xo
    Jen

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  4. Hiya Jen! I totally get where you are coming from! I force myself to work out, but once I get in a routine, I feel weird when I skip. And a funny thing is that I'm more tired going into the work out than I am when I finish. You are so right about working out raising your energy levels. I had no idea about the creativity aspect. That is so interesting!!

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  5. Hi Karen!

    I know, it's great that we get the added bonus of more creativity-I know I'll take any help I can get in that department:)

    xo
    Jen

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  6. Jen, I love a workout in the morning. I do the gazelle to the beat of Taking Care of Business (Bachman Turner Overdrive) and it helps me. Mind you, I don't lose weight, but it is fun to do and it puts me in the right mood for the rest of the work day.

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    1. Aimee - I am so out of it! What's the gazelle? A yoga pose?

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  7. Hi Aimee,

    I love working out in the morning too, but I also like to hit the snooze button six times, making us all late for daycare/work lol:)Usually sleep wins, and my husband and I work out together in the evening once our son goes to bed.

    xo
    Jen

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  8. I used to work out, then I got married and worked out less. Then, I had a kid and now my workout is playing Star Wars in the front yard with lite sabers.

    LOL, I used to write a lot, then I got married and wrote a lot (even on my honeymoon). Now I have a kid and he and I play tug-of-war with my writing time.

    I'd rather eat green peas (the worst food on the planet) than do squats.

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    1. You don't think lima beans are worse than green peas?

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  9. Hi Pam,
    Love your response:) Sooo true! I love spending time with my family, so given the choice-they always win above all else.

    I'm with you on the peas-they are disgusting! And squats really do suck!

    xo
    Jen

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  10. It's good to know that I'm not the only one who hates exercise. But I've promised my family that as the weather gets warmer, we will start taking walks around the neighborhood in the evenings.

    I never thought about the creative benefits to exercise. Hmmm.....

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