Are you writer fit?

The other day, I was perusing the internet, as one is wont to do, and I came across something interesting on Julie Czerneda’s website.

Ms. Czerneda is an award-winning science fiction/fantasy author. I’ve only read one of her works, In The Company of Others, which I enjoyed, but I didn’t like it enough to read more of her Science Fiction. I am, however, looking forward to starting her new Fantasy series, Night’s Edge, later this year. The first book is out, Turn of Light, and the second, A Play of Shadow, should be released in November.

Anyway, her website is a regular stopping spot on my rounds. On that particular day,  I noticed she had a writer’s advice list  (or something, I can’t find it now, of course) and I skimmed through it, thinking, yeah, yeah, nothing I haven’t read before until my gaze stopped on the last tidbit of wisdom. Again, I can’t find it now, but essentially it went something like this:

“Don’t get fat and flabby.”

Okay, we all know Ms. Czerneda didn’t write anything remotely like that, but that’s what I walked away with.

As a group, we writers probably tend toward the more…let’s be nice…sedentary lifestyle.

We encourage each other to sit our butts in our chairs and stay there until we’ve finished a story – even if it takes years.

Well, I don’t know about you, but I know that I actually burn more calories sleeping than I do while at the computer typing. (Yes, I know this for a fact because I used a BodyBugg for over a year. The numbers do not lie.)

Not only that, I often find that eating sugary, fatty foods give my brain the glucose-boost it needs when I’m in the creative-thick of my stories, when the last climax is just within grasp. Without that hefty slice of cheese cream-iced carrot cake, my protagonist would never slay that dragon or smother their foes.

So, not only am I not burning any calories during the hours I write, but I increase my caloric intake.

That’s a recipe for disaster.

While many of us live to live on the page, we have to all remember that our bodies need exercise just as much as we need to write. We are not doing anyone any favors if we drop dead of a heart attack. (Not to mean, but George R. R. Martin, I’m looking at you. You must finish The Winds of Winter!)

I’m not saying we all have to march out the door and start running marathons or training for the Olympics, but a good, brisk walk (or equivalent) once a day is the least we should all do. And for many of us, much more.

But, you say, I work all day. I come home tired. After doing my chores, and carving out time away from my friends and family to write, now I’m supposed to exercise, too?


I joined the gym a few months ago, and I go to the BodyAttack and BodyCombat classes. Since it’s a set schedule, it’s something I can put on my calendar and force myself to go. It’s a good workout and I get to observe all sorts of potential characters. In addition, while my dog is looking at his 17th year, he still forces me out for a walk twice a day. I’m not running marathons anymore, but I’m doing my best to manage the excess fat I have and maintain some muscle mass.

How about you? What are you doing to keep in shape (whatever that means for your body type)? Other than health, what writer-specific benefits do you derive from physical exercise?


12 thoughts on “Are you writer fit?

  1. I’ve had the same issue lately. I usually walk my dog every day, but in the last few weeks the weather has been either too hot or too stormy. My dog is getting older and she can only walk so much, and without her at my side I lose motivation. It was also my birthday and I ate a bunch of sweet stuff, which I normally don’t.
    We’re all pretty guilty of this, and it takes a while for us to get motivated to do more.

    1. I know. I’m guilty guilty guilty a hundred times over. And when I saw Ms. Czerneda’s advice to keep active, I immediately got up and stretched. If I’m not reminded, it’s easy to just sit there and keep typing (we’re supposed to, right?).

      One thing I have found is that physical activity does get the ideas rolling. I come up with the best dialogue while exercising. (I just have to remember it by the time I get back to the computer.)

      Thanks for stopping by, Lynn!

  2. Hear hear. I’m a big proponent of physical fitness as well as the idea that we should be moving frequently throughout the day. Writing and computer time cut into that health recommendation though, so we have to try and get up and move every hour or so. I have a plastic shelf for my treadmill. I love it. I strap my laptop on top of it and walk at a slow pace while I write. Not only is it good for my body and back, but the increased blood flow to my brain bolsters my creativity, too!

    1. Right! It does. Like I told, Lynn, some of my best lines come to me when I’m walking or running. I also find that doing laundry or some menial task helps me work on plot conundrums. Not sure why, but working with my hands help me figure things out.

  3. I took up running a couple of years ago. Though I haven’t been for a couple of weeks thanks to the rare appearance of something the media is calling a “heat wave” I hope to force myself to go again this week.

    I find it is good for the mind and brain functions.

  4. I’m totally with you! And, may I suggest, writers can do some of our best free thinking while we’re up and moving, doing something besides sitting in a chair. Plus, my neck starts to hurt if I sit at the computer for more than an hour.

    My morning routine includes 15 to 20 minutes of yoga, to keep me flexible and stop my back hurting when I do yard work. Plus, as my arthritis is flaring up sometimes, I add some stretches for my fingers and wrists. Most days, I also bike for 30 minutes to keep my heart healthy.

    Like you said, no training for marathons. Consistent works better for me than big bursts. Haven’t you had that experience where you’re stuck and it’s getting irritating and as soon as you walk away from the screen, you figure out what should happen next? Another good reason to get yourself moving!

    1. Definitely. I don’t often remember, but when I do, I make a point to get up and do the “salutation to the moon” yoga sequence. Great for back and legs.

  5. All my major ”plot holes” and things I struggled to solve were either sorted in the shower or on the run while jogging.
    I used to be one of those marathon runners and when I discovered the joys of the Word Processor …eek! the kilos came and sat down with me.

    I don’t jog anywhere near as much as I ought and thus, while my story lines expand quite nicely, thank you very much, so has my waistline.

    Of course, out of shape is a relative term and round is still a shape.
    But while I never had a ‘six pack’ I need to be careful to make sure I don’t end up with a whole crate!
    Buy ‘sneakers’, as you ,em>foreigners say, and get out on the road.

    1. Yeah, me + writing = 20 extra pounds. I’m working on bringing it down to something reasonable and then just trying to keep it level. There’s no stopping the writing bit, so I definitely have to just watch what I eat and keep to a routine.

      And you are right about it being relative. I’m not after an athletic build, just a healthy one.

      And like you pointed out, ideas come with increased blood flow – so better writing, too!

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