What do writing and a good workout have in common? More than you might think. Both can feel immensely rewarding. Both release positive endorphins and serve as fantastic coping mechanisms. Most of all, they can both be exhausting but need to be done often anyways to maintain progress.
Whether you are training for a marathon or preparing to write a novel, you have decided to settle in for the long run.
A friend of mine just ran a half marathon. She trained by running a set of miles daily: 3 miles the first week, 4 miles the second, and so on until she could run 13.5 miles, no sweat. Each Saturday she pushed a little harder by adding 3 extra miles to that day’s run. The idea was to beat complacency and force herself to improve by kicking it into high gear for a small amount of time. NaNoWriMo is like that Saturday run, right? Every day we train by writing a set amount, whether it’s 15 minutes or 1500 words. But NaNoWriMo comes around and we stock up on snacks, and sit our butts in the seat and write faster than we've ever written before.
NaNoWriMo looms just around the corner and like any training, the potential for fatigue will come with it. How can you prepare for the fatigue so that it will not hinder your progression?
Can a Workout beat Writing Fatigue?
Call me crazy, but I swear adding the 7-minute workout to your writing routine will beat that fatigue.
In my junior year of high school, I took an AP English class. On top of other classes and extracurricular activities, a friend and I struggled to keep up with the new load. Feeling overwhelmed, we talked to our AP teacher about what we needed to do to keep up without losing our minds.
Our teacher gave us one simple piece of advice.
“When you feel frazzled or too tired to go on,” she said, “stand up and cross hemispheres.” She demonstrated, bringing her arms up to a tee and rotating at the hips so that her right arm stretched across the left side of the body, and vice versa. She explained that when you stop your mental activity to engage in some physical activity, especially when that activity requires you to move your body in a way that crosses left side to right side, it activates areas in your brain that will help you feel alert, awake and ready to go.
It seemed so silly. I remember giggling as she showed us, but she was right!
Over the years I’ve used that little trick often and expanded on it. I’ve found that a 7-minute workout captures that same simplicity and makes an excellent companion to a writing routine.
Often we only think of “working out” when we want to lose weight. Because of that, I imagine it holds a negative connotation for most of us. If that’s true for you, I hope I can reframe what a workout can feel like and what it can do, especially for us writers. Seven minutes, of course, will do nothing as far as burning fat, and that’s okay! It’s perfectly acceptable to work out just because it makes you feel happier, and does wonders for your mind.
What this workout should and shouldn’t be:
This workout SHOULD encourage you to drink more water and replace some of the inflammatory food (I’m looking at you chocolate and coffee) that we tend to reach for when writing. Water is life's magic. It does incredible things for our bodies, and a hydrated writer is a good writer.
In stressful situations (like struggling through a difficult scene) we tighten our jaw, hold the tension in our shoulder muscles and take restricted breaths. This workout SHOULD address those natural productivity-killing reactions, creating a more peaceful and relaxed state of being. Don’t be surprised when you can add time to your writing routine as a result.
This workout SHOULD raise your heart rate. We’re not looking for a fat-burn, but we do want to get the benefits of extra oxygen to the brain and increased blood flow, so make sure to find a little gumption. You will find that the fog clears, and ideas are quicker to present themselves because of this.
This workout SHOULD NOT take a long time. Seven minutes is all you need. Even five minutes will do enough to rejuvenate. Any longer than that, though, and you risk the workout becoming a distraction from your real goal- finishing that WIP!
This workout SHOULD make you smile. If you love seeing your muscles flex use weights. If you prefer peace and quiet reflection there’s yoga. If you find joy in shaking your hips try zumba! All these options are a quick youtube search away. Smiling increases those endorphines, and will help you keep a positive outlook of the task ahead.
This workout SHOULD NOT stand in your way. No matter what workout you prefer, you should be able to do it no matter where you are. If not, there are workouts made specifically for small spaces. If nothing else, take a short walk down the hall, or down the street. Don’t let your space be an excuse to miss out on all these awesome benefits.
This workout SHOULD serve as a practice in self-love. Focus on smiling. Revel in how strong and energized your body feels when you move it. You’re a writer. Your mind is a palace of knowledge. You’ve cultivated a powerful force. But you have a magnificent body too, and it works every day to serve you well so that you can do what you love most. Love it back!
How to fit your workout into your writing routine
Plan strategically, plan ahead. I start to lose steam at the 90-minute mark, so I plan my 7-minute Workout just after that. Set a timer and write ferociously. When your timer goes off jump up and move. Have a video preloaded on your phone or computer screen. Set your weights by your chair so you don’t waste time gathering tools. Don’t forget to keep a water bottle nearby! Remember, this is not a way to procrastinate but a way to rejuvenate.
Why choose this type of break over all the other options?
A 7-minute workout trumps any other type of break I have at my disposal. Researching, creating inspiring image collages, and social media breaks can all seem productive, can often turn into an all-night distraction. They also use the same areas of the brain as writing, so you’re not providing the brain a chance to recuperate.
Working out for seven minutes will feel rejuvenating yet uncomfortable enough that you’re more likely to feel excited to jump back on your computer and get back to writing when you finish. It will refresh the brain and relax the body. It will boost your confidence and your writing. If you don’t believe me, put it to the test!
Need an idea for your workout?
Because I love sharing my favorite internet finds with you, I have put together a quick list of different workout videos to get you started! I hope you enjoy the new addition to your writing routine. Let us know how the 7-Minute Workout works for you by commenting below or on our facebook page!
Great 7-Minute Workouts For You To Try
Dance: The Fitness Marshal
Marshal is funny and positive, two of the top things I look for in a youtube instructor. More than that, this specific video will leave you with a huge boost in energy and confidence. Who doesn't need that mid writing session?
These videos are only one song long, so feel pick two or three to fill out a whole 7-minute workout. If you like this one, I suggest trying his I Only Want To Dance With You video next.
Yoga: Yoga With Adrienne
On the other side of the energy spectrum there is Adrienne. I love how easy going and gentle she is. She makes plenty of room in her workouts for you to do what feels good for you. It's a great reminder that your body and it's needs are unique. Take some time to check in with yourself while you follow along with her practice and you'll feel so refreshed when it comes time to get back to writing.
HIIT: Kay Cammack
One of the things I like about this video is that there is no vocal instruction. You are completely free to mute the video and workout to the music of your choice. Plus HIIT workouts are great if you want to get a sweat started. Make sure to drink plenty of water after this one.
Pilates: Cassey Ho
I've been watching Cassey's videos since 2011, so no list would be complete without one of her workouts. I love that she focuses on body positivity no matter what size you come in. She teaches that the focus of your workout should be feeling strong, not "getting skinny". She has so many quick short workout videos, and if this leg workout doesn't appeal to you, there are others to choose from on her channel.
We're all writers, we're all moms, writing our way through the "brambles" of life and our stories.