Healthy body, sound mind, good art

June 7, 2013

I never cared much about being healthy until after I started writing seriously.

In college and in all the jobs I’ve held since, I could roll into the classroom or office on half a night’s sleep and still take care of everything I needed to do. Sure, I wasn’t going to be the most agreeable fellow that day, but it didn’t matter because I got everything done.

With writing though, if I’m too tired I will fall asleep. Not because I’m not enjoying myself, but because creative writing takes every bit of imagination, skill, and willpower that I can muster, and I can’t do that if half my brain is asleep. So I don’t, and I flounder, and I pass out. Now I get enough sleep most nights, and I’m more productive for it.

At some point after that, I got it into my head that if I wrote better when I was well rested, maybe the same would hold true if I exercised a bit. Turns out I was right – rather than tire me out, exercise energizes me, and now I write best on the days where I make time to exercise.

When people think of taking care of their bodies as something they’re “supposed” to do, they don’t do it because it’s not truly important to them. The benefits of good health only become clear after a great deal of time and hard work, and it’s easy to lapse in the face of the hundreds of other things we would rather be doing. But when you have something you want to do that requires every bit of your ability to even attempt, then you have to take care of yourself to have a shot. Good health becomes part of what you love, a prerequisite for following your passion.

First, find something you’re passionate about which challenges you. Then take care of yourself so you can give your absolute best every single time. That’s the best motivation to work out, eat healthy, and get enough sleep that I’ve ever found.

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By Stephen W. Gee

Author of Wage Slave Rebellion, Freelance Heroics, and about two good blog posts out of a hundred.

2 Comments

  1. Reply

    Emily

    Do you mind if you elaborate a bit more on this?

    I’ve always wanted to be more in a “treat yourself better, go exercise” groove for several reasons, but not for my art. Growing up they were always separate in my family; my sister was athletic and I was artistic and as such it was never encouraged in me by my parental units. Nowadays I’m one of those people who needs a change of venue, and usually some food, to write, and even then that is not a guarantee.

    So I am interested in hearing more on the argument that health and fitness = more art (whatever that may be). If another writer can explain it to me, maybe I can finally make the connection.

    P.S. How’s that 27K?

    1. Reply

      Stilts

      600 words to go! I could finish it at any time…but I’m about to leave to go visit my friend, so it looks like I’ll be polishing the last words off when I get back on Sunday…right in time for the deadline, heh

      I wouldn’t say “more art” so much as “better art”, or at least that’s the hope. It comes down to the fact that the body and the mind are connected. I remember a passage in The God Emperor of Dune where the titular God Emperor talked about the three pillars that support a human, those being the body, the mind, and the spirit. He had abandoned the spirit for many years by eschewing emotion and love, whereas I feel that many artistic types ignore the body while focusing on the other two.

      They’re connected. We cannot separate our consciousnesses from these squishy bodies that we inhabit, and even if we could, I’m not convinced that we would be the same. Your environment effects your art – you yourself mentioned that yourself. That is as true for the parts of you around your mind as they are for everything outside your body.

      Think of it this way – can you write when you’re sick? Can you write as well? Well when you’re not exercising, eating write, and making sure you’re pretty healthy, you’re a little bit sick every single day. Sure, you can fight through it at that level, but how much better would you be if you were at 100%?

      Unfortunately this is a hard one to explain because the reasons are so vague. That’s why I’ll give you a challenge, should you choose to accept it: for one month, try to get enough sleep, exercise a little bit every day (even if only for 30 minutes!), and eat pretty good food at every meal. Don’t be bothered if you lapse – I still drink alcohol and I’ll grab a pizza on occasion and it’s fine if there’s an occasional day where you fall off the wagon a bit – but if you honestly try it you’ll find out whether I’m right or not at the end of the month.

      Feeling is believing.

      P.S. If you decide to take this challenge, make sure you tell me how it goes! I probably won’t check this post again by then, so ping me @StiltsOutLoud on twitter or something. Good luck!

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