Friday, March 04, 2011

Fill the Well Friday -- SWEAT

Michelle Styles examines a way to jumpstart  your creativity -- SWEAT

Right here is where I confess  -- I hated PE in  high school. I intimately know the humiliation that comes from always being the last one chosen for a team as well as consistently coming last in any run. My PE teachers tried (and failed) to instill a love of running. And I am well aware of my limitations as a dancer. I am the one who dances to the beat of my own drum as it were, trying and sometimes failing not to elbow anyone in the head along the way. BUT I also know exercise is good for you. As a human being I am not an amorphous blog of jelly with a brain.
For many years, I confined my exercise to gardening and walking (nothing that really made me sweat too much) but writer's bottom is a problem in my chosen profession. Bottom in chair , hands on keyboard may be the recipe for writing but it also means.a sedentary lifestyle which means fewer calories used. Stay at home mothers who are constantly on the move with young children use up far more calories than writers who are sitting typing on a computer. When you make the transition, you need to take it into account. I didn't. Combine it with mindless grazing as I searched for inspiration and the result was a growing writer's bottom.
When you start piling on the pounds, creativity can go south. Things become too much trouble. Stress grows and stress can inhibit creativity. Exercise can relieve stress and open your mind. By pumping endorphins through your system, it can make you feel strong and energised. It can bring fresh perspective to your work.
So I have tried a variety of things from rowing machines to  workout dvds. The main thing is consistency and SWEAT. You need to do something you like or otherwise you won't keep it up. It all has to be able to fit in your day. For me, taking an aerobics dance class is akin to torture. And going to a gym means encountering various instruments of torture. Plus then  well toned people will see how inane I am.  Give me an exercise machine and I will figure out a way to have something go wrong. Deadline pressures mean swimming takes far too long. And I have to walk the dogs (about 3-4 miles per day) My excuses are many.
However, in January I stopped giving excuses. I'd seen pictures from the Harlequin party... I also saw a workout dvd -- Jillian Michaels 30 day shred. I figured in the interests of improving my bottom line, I could give up an hour a day. To my surprise when I started doing the dvd, it was 20 minutes (plus about 5 min warm up and cool down). I sweated. I lost inches but more importantly my outlook improved. My engery came back and  I discovered the post work out buzz. (I also went down a dress size) I also found Jillian Michaels very motivational. So inspirational that I bought some of her other dvds, and have continued to work out. Although now I take 50 minutes a day and really work hard. It is all about trying hard. (And it is not easy -- I swear, sweat and probably swear some more)  When I go back to my wip, the task doesn't seem as daunting.
Other people like Donna Alward and Amanda McCabe have their favourite workout dvds. The important thing is to sweat and relieve that stress. By bringing the same discipline and work ethic that enabled you to finish a manuscript in the first place, it is possible to deal with the writer's bottom line and improve your creativity at the same time.
You can find out more ideas about how to become a Healthy Writer by visiting the Healthy Writer Blog. I know it helped me stopped making excuses and actually do something. Your body and your mind will thank you for taking the time to sweat.
Michelle Styles writes historical romance in a wide range of time periods for Harlequin Historical. YOu can learn more about her books from her website and you can follow her progress in reshaping her writer's bottom line on her blog


  1. Michelle, I am in the middle of the 30 day shred and sweating lots. Unfortunately I also seem to have put ON 3lbs instead of taking it off. Trying very hard not to get demotivated...

  2. Scarlet --
    Check your measurements. I know I gained muscle and lost inches. Also make sure you are not mindlessly grazing. Once I stopped, I dropped weight.
    It is so easy to mindless graze when you are writing.

  3. Hi Michelle, I haven't started a formal exercise program, but you inspired me. Last April I decided that I wanted to eat healthier and shed the added pounds that had crept on by working both a day job and writing sitting in front of computers. Eating healthier has enabled me to lose quite a bit, although I'm not there yet. My next step is to start some sort of exercise program. Thanks for the tips.