Written by Emily Harstone December 25th, 2019

The Importance of Writing and Exercise

Phillip Roth often said that he walked a mile for every page he wrote. He also wrote those pages standing up. Hemingway was also known for standing while he wrote, and many modern writers from John Green to Susan Orleans have been known to use a treadmill desk.

The science fiction writer Kevin J. Anderson actually writes while hiking. He dictates his books into a hand held digital recorder. A typist then transcribes it. After that he edits the work.

The famous Japanese novelist Haruki Murkami wrote an entire book about how running helped him write. Kay Ryan, a former poet laureate for the United States, also has a daily running routine, but there are also famous writers who swear by boxing, swimming, yoga, ballet and all sorts of other activities not just in terms of keeping themselves fit, but in terms of improving their writing. After all exercise is scientifically proven to make you smarter.

Over a decade ago I joined a gym and ever since then, I have made sure that I have exercised five to six days a week. Over this decade my writing has really improved, partially because of the thoughts and energy I put into exercise help refresh my brain and my writing reserves. I have come up with some of my best writing ideas on walks, runs, and kayaking trips.

I don’t swear by any particular kind of exercise. Any kind of exercise helps improve your writing, and helps bring new thoughts out into the open.

Now the trick to this is getting into the habit of exercising.  Start slowly if you have not exercised in a while. Walk around your neighborhood for 15 minutes every day, or do 25 crunches, 20 squats, and 5 pushups and go from there. Make sure whatever you are doing is within your comfort zone and gradually work towards doing more. Make sure to check with your doctor if you are unsure.

I have become a much better writer, and a much happier human being since integrating daily exercise into my routine.

Emily Harstone is the author of many popular books, including The Authors Publish Guide to Manuscript SubmissionsThe 2019 Guide to Manuscript PublishersSubmit, Publish, Repeat, and The Authors Publish Guide to Children’s and Young Adult Publishing.

She occasionally teaches a course on manuscript publishing, as well as a course on publishing in literary journals.


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