I’ve been wearing my Responsible Adult hat these past two weeks. Doing work-related training, hours of IT maintenance over the weekend (because you never want to do them during business hours…), and filing paperwork for income taxes is enough to leave anyone exhausted.
If it were up to me, I’d spend my prime hours daydreaming, roaming forests, or doing interesting things.
Despite all this, I still squeezed some reading and writing! I entered another writing contest on wattpad (#BattleTheBeast). The last chapter of Clause for Women, Children, and Infirm got written and posted. I managed to borrow Captain America: Civil War from the library (score!), and now I will spend an evening watching (drinking lots of water… I heard this is necessary). I want to keep this up. But how?
Practice, Practice, Practice
No tricks here. This I know. In the short breathing moments between tasks, I read. For fifteen minutes at a time, I write. No exceptions. I don’t have the luxury of being under-employed at the moment — though I’m working on that. So I have to make do.
Guarding writing and reading time is a life-long practice. It’s so easy to give into the urgency of a moment. My coworkers joke around in the office, saying: everything is a priority … except some tasks have greater priority than others. Hint: don’t be like my coworkers.
Speaking of priorities, guarding practice time is only half of the challenge. If I’m sick, uninspired, or just repeating the same old thing, I’m not doing practice that counts. So what to do?
Sharpen Your Mind Through Exercise
One of the recent non-fiction books I’ve read this month is Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. It builds a compelling case for the role of exercise and how it contributes to better brain activity.
This isn’t a new observation. Healthy Body Healthy Brain is a popular mantra. I checked my journal and workout spreadsheets and noted I was writing year three of A Study In Magic — my most prolific time — when I was the most physically fit. By physically fit, I mean I was within what is called athletic weight for runners, and I making half-marathon Personal Records (PR).
Is this a mere strong correlation? Or was my fitness and writing quality related? I plan to do some self-experimentation in the coming days to see if it’s the case. The timing is just right. I’m writing A Study In Magic: The Application; my (perennial) goal is to set another PR … but this time for running and strength training. The assumption is, though I’m four (three?) years older, I have more experience and training know-how. So these two factors will make the situation roughly equivalent.
What does that mean for you? A vastly more interesting story to read and write, I hope.
One compelling quote from Sherlock Holmes is from the Musgrave Ritual: “I have taken to living by my wits.” That’s been my guiding principle since I read it as a wide-eyed teenager. The edge I have over others is my brain. I will learn to live by my wits.
You need your wits — your mind — to create. So it makes sense to nurture your mind to better your storytelling.
The default says the older you get, the slower your mind turns and less imaginative you become. Hogwash. When I was a child, I thought like a child and I learned like a child. Meaning, I blindly accepted whatever authority figures told me and didn’t know how to ask good questions. Now that I’ve grown, I know enough to know what (or who) to question. I also know if you assume there is more than just the default, you usually find a more suitable way. And that’s imagination working right there.
We become what we tell ourselves. The term “self-fulfilling prophecy” exists for a reason. So let’s test and see what the real scuttlebutt is between brains and exercise, yeah?