It seems that everyone is out running these days. Well it seems like that’s the case where I live anyway. I injected myself with the running drug over a year ago now, it was in January but I refused to call it a New Year’s resolution. And I’m still at it.
I’m only going out once a week, sometimes twice, but I’m really enjoying it. After those first ten minutes of pain, and asking myself what the hell I’m doing, I turn into quite the fitness enthusiast (kind of).
Has this newish hobby helped in my writing? Well I don’t know, because I can’t compare my life to one from an alternate dimension when I simply sit in my pants eating burgers whilst toking on my crack pipe.
But if pressed, I’d say yes. It’s that alone time that brings ideas to life. You can kind of switch off from reality for 30 or 40 minutes (no marathons on the horizon just yet), apart from keeping a eye on traffic so you don’t die and have all those amazing stories and novels corroding on your hard drive where no one will ever get to read them. (NB I do have lots of stories, but most probably don’t fall into the ‘amazing’ category).
So how does running actually help with the whole writing mojo ting? Well, I’ll tell you. Or at least give you my amateur theories on the subject.
Running tips for writers
Exercising makes you feel great afterwards. It’s something about endorphins, natural highs, that sort of thing. After that initial agonising crawl up the stairs to the shower, where the warm, soapy water washes away the salty grime of exertion, you get the buzz that ‘fitness people’ go on about so much. Those aches in the legs feel like a kind of satisfying pain. Perhaps runners are some kind of fledgling masochists, or something.
It’s that sense of achievement that’s the great feeling, though. Surely if you can push yourself to lose a bit of weight and tone up some of those muscles, isn’t it equally reasonable to assume you can do the same with your writing muscle? Writing a story can be taxing enough with all those hours you plough into it. Your mind can ache as much as your legs, but once you’re asleep and the grey matter is healing itself, that arsenal of literary machine guns and grammatical grenades is being fully stocked ready for deployment on your blank page.
So I’ve been going on about the post-run experience, but there’s no use suffering a session only to bear the fruit afterwards. One great thing about the actual run is that you have a chance to really think about your story ideas and settings.
If you’re lucky enough to find a route where there’s little disturbance from traffic and other human beings (aren’t they annoying??), first make sure you’re not going to be kidnapped. I can’t stress that enough. Being taken, butchered, and having pieces of your corpse mailed to your family may be great ideas for a story, but it’s not something you really want to happen. But once you’re over that initial fear of dying on a run, it’s brainstorm city!
You can go over scenes in your mind, ones that have been written or ones that are yet to be unleashed on your screen. You can really analyse characters and their motivations without the distractions from your day-to-day life. I find it very hard to concentrate with all the muffled moaning and pleading from my basement, so escaping on a run comes in very handy.
You can ask yourself so many questions.
“Is my character really that evil? Surely there’s some more dark shit I could have him doing.”
“Would the protagonist really speak like that to his mother?”
“Would that blunt weapon really cave in a skull in the hands of a child?”
You get the idea. Having that alone time with your thoughts and characters only fuels the creative fire and brings them to life.
Writing tips for runners
Now I don’t know facts and figures here, I’m just estimating, but I’d say that there are more runners in the world than writers. How bold was that?
But what I’m getting at is that I’ve already told you with hard, albeit anecdotal evidence, that running is good for the writing mind. So surely having huge numbers of runners should be spawning more writers? Forgive me, I have no scientific data to give you specifics on this.
When faced with a great expanse of nothingness, where the end seems miles away (I mean this literally and not philosophically – a long road to run on), you need something to excite your mind. Some may concentrate on a building or a signpost, watching it slowly get bigger and closer. Some may stare at the ground, so when they eventually look up again they are much further along than they thought.
Music’s also good, and this is my personal preference. Metal, of course. Music can evoke ideas and I find lots of brutal music inspires envisaged scenes of death – handy if you’re planning on writing horror.
Isn’t this a great time to let your mind wander? But instead of planning that presentation for the office, or organising that leaving do for the idiot who you are actually glad is off to another job, why not spend that time creating a whole other world where none of the rules of this reality have to apply? It may sound crazy, but give it a try. For those serious runners training for marathons and ultra-marathons, you may have just stumbled upon your real calling in life.
It doesn’t even have to be a fiction story. Why not start a blog about running? I’m sure there are many, I don’t know, I’ve never looked. Come on, I think we’ve established I’m not that into running. But writing about running is a great way to share your experiences with the world. Your run would become an ideas factory for the next great blog post that the world will be reading, or even listening to when your blog becomes so successful it’s turned into an audiobook. You have to dream and you never know, once the ideas are all sorted in your mind and you’re ready to go, you’ll have finished your run.
I hope you’ve made it this far. The idea for this post was concocted whilst out on a run (I know, right?), and although I’ve talked about planning ideas out, I’ve ended up kind of going off on one here. Oh well, why you go for a run and decide on a better post?
Keep running and writing (or is that writing and running?)!!!
Thanks for reading.
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