I have a bad back. This is hard for me to acknowledge sometimes. Part of me thinks it’s inconceivable, seeing as how I used to do gymnastics and could twist into pretzel shapes in my teens and early twenties. I mean, the first time I really hurt my back was when I was jolted awake from a nightmare and pretty much gave myself whiplash, according to my chiropractor. Inconceivable. (Insert Princess Bride joke here). And it was all downhill from there. So about twice a year I have pain issues, and I’m mired in one of those periods right now.
But really, the warning signs were there for several years before that injury. I carried a backpack in school for years and was always over-stuffing it, mostly with heavy books. As soon as I got my first computer (well, before that even–oh! mental note: must do blog post on all the devices I used before the computer), I was hunched over the keyboard, unaware of the tension shooting up into my neck. In college it was better because I had a job where I moved around a lot. Then I got a desk job, and then another desk job, and I was still writing at night, and suddenly I was hunched over a keyboard for anywhere from eight to ten hours a day. Something had to give, and it did.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gradually worked more exercise into my life. Husband and I take a walk almost every day, and when it’s too cold we ride the stationary bike and do other assorted aerobics.
And, gods help me, I’ve started doing yoga.
Already I can see the appeal of it. You become a lot more aware of your breathing and posture and just generally how you’re holding your body. I’m hoping it might help strengthen my back and help with pain control when I’m having trouble. But as a newbie, I’m still encountering certain poses that I think should be renamed the You Are Fucking Kidding Me, Right?
So, what does all this have to do with writing, other than it being a cautionary tale of what too much sitting and hunching can do to a person? Another benefit of the daily exercise is it truly is a creativity booster. Exercise loosens me up, gets my blood pumping, and it’s a great time to work out where I’m going in my WIP. So, if you’re stuck on a chapter or can’t generate a short story idea, here’s a hot tip: get up and move around. Staring at the blank computer screen doesn’t always help, and in the long run all that sitting* and hunching can do you harm.
*I could probably do a whole blog post on standing desks, which are a good option if you don’t mind, well, standing.