Friday, July 22, 2011

The Muse and Movement (aka, Why You Need to Exercise in More Ways Than One)

There is something about physical movement that helps your creative muse move on paper. This is a simple but profound truth to tap into if you are a writer or any other kind of artist. 

The reality for writers is that we can easily sit all day long. Well... Maybe not easily. Depends on the person, I suppose. But what I mean is that our creative endeavor finds us either curled up around a pen and paper, or gleefully hunched over a computer, tap-tap-tapping away at the keys. To write, you must sit. Sedentary. All the force going into transforming a concept from your brain into action in print.

Whatever you're writing...fiction, nonfiction...the words have to move. If you're telling a story...true, make-believe...your characters have to move. That's what action is. Poetry flows (or moves). Prose has a pace...slow or fast...but it is always in motion. That flow forward is what drives the reader onward. No flow, and you lose the reader. That's why there are plenty of resources on how to write action, or how to write scenes. Your writing has to go somewhere.

If you want to get that flow on the page to begin with, you have to move yourself as a writer. Yes, that means actually writing instead of dreaming about it, planning it, talking it over. Doing is a form of movement.

But you also need to move physically. There is something about physical movement that gets your brain going and starts the flow of ideas. I don't know why. I'm sure brain scientists can study it (and maybe they already have). But there is a connection between moving your body and creativity. 

I notice this for myself in two key ways: when I'm walking and taking in the scenery, and when I'm doing something meditative in motion, like yoga or Tai Chi. The combination of physical movement, along with allowing the brain to wander, does wonders for loosening up thoughts and freeing me up to write without hindrance. I've heard other writers say the same. There's just something about it.

It works.

How do you get yourself in motion, physically and on the writing page? Do you have a routine for beating writers block with movement? Maybe you've never tried this, and now you think you might. Or maybe you've found one type of exercise helps you, while another form does nothing at all for your creativity. Share your thoughts. I'd love to hear them. Let's all get moving together!

Copyright (c) 2011 by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved.


  1. Love the emphasis on motion.

    I've long been a fan of walking. Now, with dogs, I walk daily whether I'm up for it or not. Good ideas also come to me at the gym.

  2. Thanks for dropping by, Hektor! Yes, the gym. I've had ideas come while working out. Do you find you can write after you get home from a work out? Or do you need a little downtime to rest first? (I like to rest first.)

  3. "Do you find you can write after you get home from a work out? Or do you need a little downtime to rest first?"

    I'll sometimes do some mad scribbling to get ideas down on paper, but rarely do any sustained writing.

    These days I usually respond to comments on my blog, walk the dog, shower and eat in some order first.

    Probably then take a little downtime to rest as well. :)

  4. Perfect timing! I just sat down at the computer after a 25 minute session of yoga and walking. I find exercise clears my mind for the task at hand, plus it's one less thing distracting me from writing. I'm a 'to-do list' personality, and its its on my list, I will use it to procrastinate from writing.

    I also like your point about getting your characters to move. Mine tend to do too much thinking. They need to get off their butts, too. ;)

  5. Thanks, Kristin! I hear you about the to-do list. I do that too. It does help to get things done so I feel "free" to write.

  6. Totally agree about writing after exercise. Walking is particularly good, at least for me. The body is busy and the imagination follows.
    Jackie King

  7. Interesting post, Chipper Muse. A healthy body and a healthy mind go hand in hand.

  8. Thanks, Jackie and Bob. It's great to hear from you, and everyone else who posted comments.

  9. Sitting for extended periods of time is, for me, the hardest part about writing. My body prefers to be "on the go," but my poor brain constantly begs me to sit down and get all those wonderful thoughts and ideas on paper (or in the computer). It's a constant battle for me, so thanks for the reminder to expend a little energy first, then write.

    Ginny M.


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