A Cure for Writer’s Block?

The other weekend we had Ana and her husband Pookie over for a little Superbowl party. Like every other American watching the game we had our fair share of game day foods. We ate our weight in hoagies, pizza rolls, cheese balls, chicken wings and mini eclairs.

“Have you noticed that there are a lot of health-conscious writers out there?” Ana asked.

I just shoved four cheese balls in my mouth so all I could do was nod my agreement.

Sparky shook his sixth pizza roll at us. “You know what that’s called? That’s called procrastination.”

As I chugged on my coke to wash the processed cheese taste out of my mouth I thought about Sparky’s comment. I have noticed that there are a lot of comments on Twitter from writers about running or exercising or some sort of physical activity as part of their daily routines. And though I’m sure some days exercise is used as a procrastination tactic I get the feeling that these writers use exercise to overcome the black plague of writers – writer’s block.

Before I continue let me acknowledge that there is a debate out there that questions the actual existence of writer’s block. But for the sake of this post, lets just say that writer’s block does in fact exist and is currently lurking outside the writer’s mind waiting for the opportune time to sneak in, kidnap our imagination and its sister inspiration and run off into the dark, dark night.

Ok, now that that’s settled, back to my story.

I was always a very athletic person. I played soccer from the age of 3 until 20 when I tore my ACL during a championship summer league game. (That’s right, summer league. The men’s league drink beer after games, the women’s league plays for blood and firstborns.) Due to my injury I shied away from sports but after having a baby in early 2008 then again in late 2009 my body screamed for some sort of physical activity that would not result in me being pregnant. So I joined a gym.

At first I just went to get out of the house. I joined a Zumba class and danced my little heart out. As the months went on I tried other classes and ended up really enjoying Bodypump, a weight-lifting class. The only problem with the class is that I have to get there at least 30 minutes before hand to set up due to limited space. But what the hell was I going to do with an extra 30 minutes at the gym? I grudgingly set my sights on the treadmill.

Then the funniest thing happened when I started to run, er, jog…alright it happened as I walked. My mind shut off. Completely. This is momentous for someone like me. I am the quintessential worry-wort. I overanalyze conversations I had that day until I consider the color of the person’s shirt when figuring out what they meant when they said “I like your hair today.”

But when I’m running, it all goes away. The only thing I hear is the music pumping through my earbuds and the frantic beat of my heart. Afterwards I feel lighter, freer. I’ve noticed that the words come easier after I run/exercise and writer’s block doesn’t happen. I mean, sure sometimes I get stuck, but I’ve noticed if I step away from the computer and go for a little jog, when I return, new ideas or approaches are there waiting for me.

I know some people use running for procrastination. Others use it because they only focus on their work and not other things going on while running. Me, I use it because its the only time when I’m not thinking about anything. I feel total peace leaving me ready to face that blank page. (I still hate that little black blinking line, though.)

Do you use exercise as procrastination or to help you sort things out? Or are you like me and use it as an escape? Is exercise a cure for your writer’s block? If you don’t use exercise, what do you do to clear your head?


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7 Responses to A Cure for Writer’s Block?

  1. Ana Quinn says:

    So, did you go for a run this morning? We have a combined post to write, so we need our heads clear and ready to write at 1:30. 🙂

    I actually use the shower to clear my head. For me, it is relaxing and the best place for brainstorming. Although, there have been times where I have been so engrossed in planning that I didn’t realize that I had been in there over an hours and was about out of hot water. Oops.

  2. 2blu2btru says:

    Personally, it depends on the exercise. When I do yoga, I can’t think of anything but how to breathe, whether or not something hurts, what the heck does it mean to soften my ribs or hug the flesh of my arms to the bone?, and other yoga related things.

    When I go for a walk, use the cybex machine, or go to a class, once I get past the OMG, why am I doing this? feeling, my brain meanders down a path or two that may very well lead me to an important insight into a character that I would like to explore. Of course, there’s never pen and paper handy, so I have to keep repeating it over and over like a mantra until I find something to write it on.

    I’m not a big exercise person, so I don’t think I’ve ever used it to procrastinate. I’d much rather use writing to procrastinate from exercising 😉

    • Kaye Peters says:

      Using writing to procrastinate from exercising…now why didn’t I think of that! LOL!
      Yes, I do run into that problem when exercising and a sudden thought pops into my head about my story. I’ve learned to keep either a notebook or recorder in my car so as soon as I get to it after the gym I can copy down what I came up with.

  3. Nicole says:

    Exercise, namely running, is a habit for me just as reading and writing are. It’s typically the ‘habit’ I do first thing at the start of each day. I definitely find that my head is clearer and that I’m a more productive writer/scholar/director/human being when I structure my day this way. When I don’t run, I typically get into cleaning and organizing and other never-ending, toilsome tasks that unequivocally qualify as procrastination. And I also have found that some of my best creative ideas have come while running, so I guess that would make it an occasional writer’s block ‘cure’ for me… Now you have me wanting to check hashtags. Perhaps we need a new one for running writers: #runwrite? #runningwriter?

    • Kaye Peters says:

      Making up a new hashtag is a great idea. I find myself just writing “amwriting” “amrunning” which is kind of hard to do at the same time. I like #runningwriter, may have to use that one . 🙂

      I wonder what it is about running or just doing menial tasks in general that helps aid the creative process. Its like the old saying about finding love when you’re not looking for it – when you stop concentrating on your story and focus on something else your mind gets a break and voila, there’s the answer.

  4. Pingback: Writer’s Block « Random Musings Of A Mad Mama!

  5. Pingback: The Cure of Writer’s Block (Tips, Ideas, Inspiration) « Raw Multimedia, the daily lifestyle of Creativity vs Realism vs Professionalism

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