Thursday, May 16, 2013

Stand Up to Live


What do you love, aside from writing? What else are you passionate about? What makes you geek out? For me, there are several things-- as I may have mentioned before, I have so many interests that I just about drive myself crazy keeping up with them all. But numero dos on my list is definitely fitness. 

One of these things is not like the other.

“Wait, wait, wait,” you’re saying. “I thought you were a nerd! Nerds don’t eat right or go to the gym! They snarf Doritos and Mountain Dew and sit in front of the computer for hours on end!”

Well, some nerds do, and that’s cool. I used to be one of those. But I decided that if I’m going to stay on this earth being awesome for as long as possible, I’ll need a healthy vehicle for my genius *wink*. The more active I became, the more I grew to love it, and the more I wished I had been fit all my life instead of just the past few years. I could talk about working out and eating clean for a REALLY long time, but that’s not what you came for.

My writing will always, always, always come first. If I’ve planned a workout and I happen to find myself in that burning, blissful, I-must-get-these-words-out-of-my-head mood, then the workout gets postponed. That said, I think it’s important for all of us to have other things going on in our lives. Walk away from the keyboard once in awhile and do something else you love. Plant some flowers. Play catch with your kid. Ride a horse. Go see a movie. Paint. Dance. Knit. Run. Call your mom.

As Thoreau said, “How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.” Our experiences out in the world add color, depth, and wisdom to our work. While dedication is crucial for a writer, that doesn’t mean we should spend every waking moment typing furiously or feel guilty for spending a night out with friends. If you love making papier-mâché kittens, do it, then watch it inevitably wind itself back into your writing. All the things that fitness has inspired in me-- willpower, determination, confidence, pride, courage, inner and outer strength, and yes, joy-- make me a better writer in one way or another. Plus, we all know that walking away from a piece and coming back with fresh eyes and a rejuvenated mind is always a great idea.

What do you do when you’re not wordsmithing? How has it affected you as a writer?

8 comments:

  1. I love to people-watch. It's so interesting to look for details that reveal who a person is, and then I find myself making up other details about them and creating whole stories about them. It helps me write by giving me ideas and making more observant.

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  2. I take walks with friends, crochet, and head to the movies with friends. When I'm working on a tough scene, crocheting helps me relax and think things through.

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  3. I watch movies, so many movies. I think watching how stories unfold visually is always really helpful when trying to construct a story. I also coach soccer which requires a lot of preparation, focus and self–motivation. These are all traits that I think also become important when writing.

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  4. I'm addicted to a select group of TV shows that I refuse to give up. I've given up movies, which was difficult because my best friend is the theater manager so they were free, but in order to keep my shows and a writing schedule, they had to go. (and since I can rarely leave my house, there isn't much else I can do besides write and watch TV. Sometimes, your mind needs the break.)

    That was during the semester, however. Now, it's summer. (Yay!) The time I spent in class can now be spent in the pool, if mother nature ever stops being crazy...
    PS: When I say in the pool, I actually mean *in* it. It's my favorite form of fitness. I'm not the lay beside it and tan kind of girl.

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    1. Sounds fun! I'm an awful swimmer-- didn't learn until I was ten-- but it IS a great form of fitness. And yeah, TV shows/movies are a cool break from writing, but also dangerous. I have Netflix and it's a total time-suck if I'm not careful.

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  5. Oh my . . . so true. I need a hobby . . . I recently decided that I'd like to train for a 5K. I used to run in my "younger" days, but got away from it when I had kids (and then stayed away for 20 years, gak!). I had to Google "Old ladies who want to train for 5k" and the advice starts with walking for, like, 10 minutes . . . okay, you've convinced me. Outside I go . . .

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    1. Hurray! Go Linda! Training for a 5K is a great goal.

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  6. I heartily agree.
    My nonfiction prof has the philosophy of "Read read read, write write write" when it comes to developing oneself into a good writer. But I would say that this philosophy could be amended to include "Live live live."

    You can tell when you're reading work that has come as a natural extension of experiences and thought derived from those experiences... because it's good work. And, granted, experiences can be as simple as observing a moth on the windowsill, but still: experiencing and observing the world with compassionate eyes is an essential part of a writer's (especially in a nonfiction writer's) development.

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