For the past several years, I’ve been concerned by all the new research that says that sitting is bad for one’s health. It seems that once we writers overcome the challenge of getting our butts into chairs, we need to work on getting out of that chair and moving! Today’s guest blog post from author Kelly James-Enger will help you do just that: move your butt!
Several weeks ago, my two-and-a-half-year-old daughter brought me a pile of books. “Read to me, Mommy? Read my books?”
I agreed, and shut down my Mac. She pointed to the living room. “In there, Mommy!” She knows the routine—she brings me books, we cuddle on the living room couch, and we read some of her favorites.
This time, though, she decided she wanted to sit where I was. “Move your butt, Mommy!” she demanded. I was momentarily taken aback (haven’t we been using the word “bottom”?) and told her to ask me, not tell me. She did, using “please,” and I slid over.
My daughter is a genius. (I’m not just saying that because, well, she’s my daughter.) “Move your butt, Mommy!” could be my mantra on the days I don’t want to work out—but I do. Not just because it’s good for my physical and emotional health. It’s critical for the success of my writing career as well.
In my latest book, Writer for Hire: 101 Secrets to Freelance Success, I included an entire section on balance. Because it’s not enough to work efficiently, create relationships with clients, and treat your writing like a business to succeed as a self-employed writer. You have to take care of your body as well. And that means placing some demands on it that exceed simply sitting in your chair (which is how the majority of us spend our waking hours).
I look at exercise as a way to burn off the mental fog that collects every morning like mist on a lake. Without sweating, that fog doesn’t dissipate—it grows. For me, it manifests in racing thoughts and inability to concentrate. When I exercise, I have to give up some of my “work” time. But it repays me with higher productivity in the remaining hours I have to write.
I’ve met hundreds of writers over the years. The most productive are dedicated athletes of some sort. Some run. Some do yoga. Some swim. Some bike. Some lift weights. Some take kick-boxing or Spinning or Zumba or Pilates classes.
Regardless, they do something that challenges their physical bodies, and they do it regularly. Exercise burns calories, strengthens your muscles and bones, improves your posture, helps you maintain a healthy body weight, and reduces your risk of heart disease (the number one killer of writers—and everyone else) and just about every other health condition you can think of.
But working out is good for your brain, too. Research has proven that regular exercise:
- Reduces anxiety;
- Alleviates depression;
- Improves mood;
- Improves cognitive ability;
- Boosts creativity; and
- Improves memory.
Those six factors can make you a more productive writer whether you’re working on your novel this month, struggle with writer’s anxiety, or simply want to feel more focused when you sit down at your computer. If you can’t justify taking the time to exercise for your physical body, then look at it as an investment in your mental health—and your writing.
About the author: Kelly James-Enger is a novelist, ghostwriter, and the author of books including Writer for Hire: 101 Secrets to FreelanceSuccess. She blogs about successful freelancing at http://dollarsanddeadlines.blogspot.com