“The chemistry of the body is inseparable from the chemistry of the brain. Movement can stimulate anyone. I can’t say enough about the connection between body and mind; when you stimulate your body, your brain comes alive in ways you can’t simulate in a sedentary position. The brain is an organ, tied integrally to all the other systems in the body, and it’s affected by blood flow, neural transmission, all the processes you undergo when you put your body through its paces. You’re making it work differently, and new directions can result.”
Twyla Tharp, The Creative Habit
The Creative Habit holds an honored place on my bookshelf of helpful how-to guides — it’s brimming with helpful ideas to jump start everyone’s imaginative juices. And as a dancer, it’s no surprise that Tywla fervently believes in the body-brain creativity connection. Always a pioneer, she was well ahead of neuroscientists in stressing the link between movement and mindset: We’re learning more every day about how physical activity can ignite creativity.
As writers, this can be a major challenge. Our “butt in the chair” commitment to pursuing our writing goals is almost guaranteed to sideline us physically. And for those of us who work full or part-time at day jobs and write in the evenings, getting physical can be even more daunting.
So how can we ramp up our physical activity? On days when those of us who exercise can’t make it to the gym or go for a run, how can we boost our creativity? Here are a few simple strategies from Writer’s Relief.com that we can easily add to our daily work sessions:
Do chair exercises: These are easy to do and provide a stimulating boost. Simple body movements performed while still in “butt in the chair” mode can help reduce fatigue and give creativity a jolt. You can easily find simple exercises online. For starters, check out: “11 Exercises to Do While Sitting at Your Computer.”
Stretch and walk around: Make it a point to get up every hour or so to stretch, shake out your mental cobwebs, give your eyes a rest from your computer, and get your blood flowing. Walk up and down a hallway or stairs. Simply moving around every hour for a few minutes will refresh you and may even trigger a new idea or two.
Dance to a beat: If you’re working at home or can close your door and rev up iTunes, then go for it! Take a tip from Twyla: Moving to a beat, whether you’re minueting to Mozart or rocking to Roy Orbison, can help get your creative juices flowing. It also boosts your endorphins, upping your happiness quotient. The average song lasts about three minutes — but the surge in creativity it produces can be long-lasting — and surprising.
Walk on the wild side: There’s a wealth of exciting news about the creative and emotional benefits of communing with nature. It’s restorative! As one example, according to research in Scientific American, people who spent four days hiking while unplugged from their electronic devices scored almost 50% higher on creativity tests than a control group. While long hikes may not be a daily option, it might be a gift to yourself and your writing to leave your cell at home and simply take a walk in the nearest park. Many a philosopher and writer has waxed poetic about the benefits of walking daily. I know I’ve had many inspiring moments just strolling among the trees and flowers.
In-chair exercises, dancing, stretching, walking — we can do this! Write on.