Vision: A Resource for Writers
Holly Lisle's Vision
Springtime For Writers
By Jeri-Tallee Dawson
2002, Jeri-Tallee Dawson
Writers are, by nature, people who tend to spend most
of their time indoors, since most of us use our desktop computers to do our
writing. Even handhelds and notebooks only go so far. If we are marginally
serious about writing, there is a word count, page count, or a certain scene to
be reached in a certain amount of time, not to speak of deadlines for those who
write for a living.
look out the window! Yes, do it now. Itís spring! Blue skies, lots of
sunshine, nature re-awakening. Are
you still inside pretending it's the deepest dark of winter? Let me tell you a
secret: Winter will come back. Yes. Short, overcast days that never get quite
light; rain; snow; cold... you get my drift. The time to be active and outside
tend to forget that our bodies are much more than just eyes, brains, and fingers
-- the writerís main tools. To write well, you need to keep your body in
condition. We all know of headaches, back spasms, carpal tunnel syndrome, mouse
hand, indigestion. These are all typical maladies tied to desk jobs. It
doesnít have to be that way. Just half an hour of exercise two or three days a
week will make a big difference in how you approach writing and life in general.
And spring is just the time to start! Or donít you want to move, as you look
outside and see all this loveliness developing in front of your window?
One of the main concerns of writers may be that by
spending time outside, they will lose time writing. I will try to show that it
doesnít have to be that way, and that your writing will actually be richer and
livelier if you take time out to take good care of your body.
tend to believe that it will take a lot of effort to start exercising, but it
doesnít have to. Start easy. Go for a walk. Make a fixed appointment with
yourself, your best friend, your significant other, or your kids to go for a
walk around the block. Or walk
along the river or lake, in your local forest preserve, or at another
location you enjoy. It comes easier if you make this a regular habit, like
walking every day for 15to 30 minutes, or walking on Monday, Wednesday, and
Friday at a certain time. Making it a compulsory date leaves less room for you
to debate whether youíre in the mood or not on a certain day. Chances are
youíll feel a lot better after the walk than you did before. But donít take
my word for it Ė find out for yourself.
on your personality, you may want to take your writing with you on your walk.
Iím not talking of literal sheets of paper, but rather the stories in your
head. Personally, I tend to look at my time outside as a writing time-out. This
is my time. Curiously enough, by the time I reach home, plot knots have
untangled and characters have come up with new ways to make my life interesting.
Exercising can easily become a writing tool like any other.
are some suggestions that may help you to look at your scheduled exercise as
more than a mere necessity that takes away your writing time. Breathe deeply as
you walk. Open your eyes and mind to the sensations around you. How does the
wind feel flowing over your skin? How do your muscles feel when theyíre tired?
What is it like to feel your breath move in and out of your lungs on a cold
spring morning? A warm spring afternoon? How does the forest smell as you walk?
What sounds do ducks make as they go about their business? When have you last
listened to the laughter of your four-year-old with a heart of wonder? These are
all impressions that you will take back to the desk, and they will enliven
you want to progress on your exercise, walking may develop into slow jogging and
running, or you might start riding
a bike, start using inline skates, or even progress to mountain climbing. Give
nature a chance to make an impression on you. Thereís plenty of time for the
treadmill or the indoor bike in winter.
different times of day, too. How does walking and being outside at the crack of
dawn feel? How about midday sunshine? How does it feel to be in the forest when
it just gets dark? Can you already see yourself sitting down for writing with
these impressions, and making your charactersí quest through the Forest of
Darkness so much more vivid?
you have never exercised before, or not in a long time, you may find that your
body feels sluggish and tired as you start. It may be a good idea to do some
inside cleaning there, to get out the toxins and the winter slush. Go on a
veggie-only or fruit-only day. Drink plenty of water. If you feel you will never
make it, try to imagine youíre one of your characters fasting. Sheís freeing
her mind and body of excess thoughts and excess ballast, as are you now. Allow
yourself that experience on a day that you have time to actually experience it.
Being on a fast or a total food change day when youíre in the middle of a
stress week at work will frustrate you more than anything.
to your body as you get ready to exercise. Does it feel better to walk with an
empty or a full stomach? Are you hungry or thirsty after walking? Do you feel
better when you load up on carbs, or leave them out? Every personís metabolism
is different, and whatís most important is that you feel invigorated and
you feel youíre too tired after work, or a disability or sickness is keeping
you from being very active, try moving a lawn chair outside or just in front of
a window that you can open to let in some sunshine. Snuggle up in a nice, warm
blanket and enjoy the sun on your skin. Breathe deeply. Doze off. Just donít
pretend itís winter any more!