Exercise is essential to the quality of our writing. Between either sitting down planning out what you’re gonna write, or actually writing content, its literally a sedentary task anyway you look at it! And in this routine, doing exercise can often get neglected.
I’m all about healthy habits for writers, and making sure those habits are instilled and become part of everyday life – not just something be be energised for a week or so and then forgotten.
In further blog posts, I’ll talk about different ways you can get exercise seamlessly into your schedule, but for now, let’s look at why the heck writers should even do it in the first place. (This applies to entrepreneurs too, of you have a business that requires you to write content).
Lifts your mood
Endorphins lift your mood. You’ll naturally feel more uplifted and motivated! It also removes the guilt that you may have about neglecting your body.
Oxygen to the brain makes you more focused and attentive. Many writers are notoriously unfocused and find themselves going off on tangents when trying to meet deadlines. Especially self-imposed deadlines.
Stops restless legs
Jobs that require you to sit down for long periods of time may cause you to have restless legs! Ugh, I hate that jittery-jumpy feeling. Regular exercise can help combat this problem.
Clears the mind and inspires ideas
Much of the stuff you worry about can be worked through whilst your exercising. Even if you’re not consciously thinking about it at the time, your subconscious is working things out. After an exercise session, you’ll often find calmness and clarity. After an exercise session, you may find that you have a breakthrough in your writing about a character or story-line that’s been bothering you.
Helps prevent illness
Getting ill will halt your writing in its tracks. You may be able to do the odd creative piece when your ill. But you cant step back and edit anything (as least I can’t). And if you want to make a living out of writing, can you really afford to be getting ill? If the answer is no, then look after your body. Do SOMETHING every day.
Stay tuned to the blog and I’ll be diving more into habits!
In fact, sadness and melancholy are essential to our spiritual health and growth.
To feel is to live.
We all know what it’s like to cry at a film and then feel exhilarated afterwards. Marvelling at how incredible it was because it made you feel so much. It’s those films where you say, ‘You gotta watch this!’ to people; because you know they’re going to feel on a deep level. There is a human connection in that. The sharing of an experience.
When you were younger, did you every incessantly play a song on repeat, repeat, repeat because it reminded you of someone? Of course you did, because the melancholy was addictive.
Maybe its age that makes us forget what that feels, years of being told to dry our tears and pull ourselves together. Maybe it’s everything we hear from others as we transition in our lives.
Darkness, light, and personal growth
On a journey of personal growth, and especially as entrepreneurs, we’re encouraged to steer clear of basking in any negativity. Instead we’re advised to connect with the angels, spirit, God, self; whatever it is for you. Encouaged to find that happy and peaceful place, and act from there.
That’s all well and good – and it DOES work. Doing that is what personally keeps me going and keeps me strong and motivated and present for my family.
But sometimes, I just need to go THERE. For the bliss of it.
For writers, especially fiction, creative fiction or memoir writers, we so often need to go to that dark place to connect with character, place, tone, and often our best writing. Writing is fuelled by darkness and light, and it requires us to understand and ignite that part of our experience. And it gives us a more rounded spiritual experience.
How to safely connect with sadness and melancholy
– and what I DON’T mean…
I’m NOT suggesting you sit and think about something traumatic that happened to you. We don’t want that, and that’s not what this is about. It is not about reliving any trauma and making yourself poorly. At all. What I mean is, connecting with something that makes you feel, deeply; like music or a film or piece of art.
(Of course something my unexpectedly get triggered. If that happens, stop immediately, and instead, go to your journal and work it out. And of course get professional help, or a close friend to talk to if you need it).
For example, here are two pictures that invite me to melancholy. In fantasy especially, picture of places like the woods or mountains, and places with mysterious entrances make us feel this because they represent the psyche and self discovery. The last one is an empty urban space, which I love.:
Now listen to your instincts with this. If you KNOW that a particular picture, song or film already has a traumatic attachment to it – then do not use it in this way! When using art to connect with sadness, it’s best to use a fresh piece, something you have not seen or heard before. That way, you can experience it for the art that it is, without any strong emotional attachment or painful memory. That way, rather than drowning in the sadness and melancholy and going down some re-lived trauma rabbit-hole, it will wash over you like a wave and bathe you in safer feelings.
Then, when you’re in that sad and melancholic place…WRITE!
Get your journal or notepad and a pen ready to either journal it out, or go straight into writing prose. And of course this is good for spirit anyway, even if you don’t want to write as a result. You can just BE.
So have a go at using art or music or movies in some way to connect with sadness and melancholy and see how it feels. For pictures, you can use the pictures above as a stimulus, and also the featured image at the top. All inspire melancholy for me, but they may not for you. So if not, find ones that work for you if these don’t.
Poetry is obviously wonderful for this too – or in fact, any extract from literature that moves you. A film that exquisitely deals with human nature in all of its glory and takes us on a roller-coaster (Labyrinth, The NeverEnding Story and The Lake House are ones that work for me).
For music, film scores are amazing. I’ve written some of my most powerful journaling to music, and I write 100% of my prose to a music backdrop, too. Below is a film score that is so very dark and pregnant with anticipation. It’s beautiful. Use this piece however you’d like, it’s just over 8 mins long. It is called ‘Melancholic Suite’ by Christopher Young, and it is a collection of score from the film ‘Copycat’ with Sigourney Weaver.
So grab your notepad and come on in. The melancholy’s lovely.
(Oh and the film is fab too! I have a picture of me and Sigourney Weaver whilst she is actually holding my copy! I’ll post it in another post at some point)
If you would like any personal guidance and coaching in this area, check out my life coaching services for quietly wild, entrepreneurial woman who want to WRITE.
You can also learn more about an array of writing styles available to you through the two season of my audio series, The Power of Writing.
Do comment below and let me know what you think of this content. Do you agree? Did you try this? Did it work for you? What are your experiences of writing from a place of sadness and melancholy? Share your thoughts below!
Walking is a ritual I’m developing for the New Year, there will be others, but this one is one I particularly want to share with you! It’s beneficial in EVERY area of your life. I already discussed on here the benefit that exercise can have on your writing, but there are a ton of reasons to get walking daily. As well as keeping us fit, walking gets us out in nature. It’s the kind of exercise that hits every area of self-care.
Walking helps us…
Physically: It helps maintain your weight, strengthen your body and your heart. It also gets loads of much needed oxygen to your brain.
Intellectually: It will help clear your mind of clutter. Walks can be meditative if you’re mindful of everything that’s going on around you, and bring you back to the present if you’re in overwhelm. That oxygen to the brain will really help you to concentrate, too
Emotionally: Time walking can give you time to process your emotions. It also will release endorphins into your body, lifting your mood
Socially: If you have a career /job that requires you to interact with people, this can be hard if you’re introverted (like me). This time will allow to to have your space so that you can tackle the world head on! If you’re an extrovert though, you can find a walking club to go to and make new friends.
Also, if you have children, it’s a great excuse for you to all put your phones down and spend time together.
Spiritually: We get close to nature when we’re outside. Our bodies chemically react in natural environments, as though we’re going back to basics. It’s a natural way to connect with our spirit and feel it sing.
Another good thing about walking is that it’s actually really easy to fit into our lives. Here are just a few way we can make it seamless:
Walking to the shop,
Leaving the car at home on a work day
Walking the kids to school
Getting up half an hour earlier to get out and walk before work,
Walking after dinner
And if you’re here thinking ‘I don’t have time’, remember, that it will ultimately make you MORE productive. You have to sharpen the axe if you want to cut the tree down.
But here is the key to reaping the full benefits – be mindful, and present in your walk. Pay attention to your environment and your thoughts as you go.
You could even start a walking journal! A special journal reserved just for your walks, you could fill it out during or after your walk, free write about your environment, your body, and also any clarity that has been given to you on that particular walk.
A dear friend of mine, Jackee Holder created a ‘Writing Map for Green Spaces’ that you could try, it’s designed to help you connect with nature as you go. Check it out here.
Do it daily, or at least 4 times a week. It’s not about formally scheduling it, but more about fitting it into your life, naturally. Go here for some more tips on how to get started!
Comment on the below and lemme know if this is a habit you are going to do too, and how you get on with it!