In his 2000 craft book On Writing, Stephen King says,
I walk four miles every day, unless it’s pouring down rain.
A little bit of exercise every day is good for your health, first and foremost.
Especially for those of us writers who spend far too many hours every day on our asses in front of a screen, even just thirty minutes of moderate exercise a day can work wonders for your health.
I don’t know about you, but on the occasional day I write too much and don’t plan well and end up not doing any exercise of any kind, I feel almost sick to my stomach. I exercise enough now that when I occasionally do skip a day, I feel it, from my head down to my toes. And I don’t sleep as well, either.
I wish writing was a more active endeavor, but sadly, it’s not, that’s just the way it is. So you have to do a little bit of extra work day after day in that you need to find time to write and find time to exercise. Both help the other, I think. Exercise clears your mind so you can write better. Writing exercises your mind to the point where eventually you need to go outside and work your body instead of your mind.
Something as simple as a short walk is all you really need.
Because you know what else exercise helps with when it comes to your writing? The moment you clear your head and just focus on physical activity, all sorts of ideas might hit you when you least expect it.
Stephen King walks every day (or at least he did prior to writing his craft book On Writing, I’m not sure if he still does), and there’s a fantastic story he’s told before where it took a long walk for him to figure out how to finish The Stand. He had written 500 pages… and then had no idea where to take the story next. It was only on a walk where the idea hit him like a lightning bolt, and he was able to complete what is to this day one of his all-time greats.
I can’t tell you how many story problems have worked themselves out in my mind when I go for a walk or a run. When I’m able to step away from the laptop screen and just look at the world around me, not thinking about my story any longer but ideas still coming anyway.
So if you don’t exercise as much as you’d like, try to find at least thirty minutes a day to go for a walk.
I exercise five to six days a week. Most of these days I either go for an hour run or go to my gym for an hour workout. But sometimes I just want to take a short walk with my dogs, too. As long as I get some kind of physical activity in during the day, I feel better health-wise, and my writing improves considerably.
Again, you don’t have to do a hard workout. Sometimes a hard workout can make you feel extremely good, and I try for at least two of those a week. But other times a brisk walk will do the trick, too. It depends on what you’re comfortable with, and, of course, what you have the time for.
But I guarantee you that even a thirty-minute walk every day will not only help you physically but will also improve your writing, especially when you’re at a point in your latest manuscript in which you don’t know where to go next or you’ve hit a story problem you can’t seem to fix. Go for a walk, the longer the better.
And maybe by the time you return home, the perfect idea might have fallen right into your lap!