I was asked a while back by my lovely friend Morten F if I would write a blog post on what writing does for me, specifically what I have lost and what I have gained. Now I am 25,000 words into writing my second novel The Firestorm Conspiracy, I thought it would be a good time to answer the question and start my new series of posts on the blog.
I’m not going to keep this post to my usual word count limit, so in order to keep it TL:DR I will break it into separate posts.
1: Gained Health and fitness
This one completely surprised me. When you think of sedentary careers, writing would probably feature pretty high on that list. Certainly at least equal to my former career in the computer games industry. But that hasn’t been the case at all.
In the last year I have lost over 18kg of fat (roughly 20% of my body mass), and replaced over 15kg of it with muscle. My entire body shape and metabolism has changed almost beyond recognition and I am genuinely now the healthiest I have been… well ever. I do four+ hours of weights a week and took up the Couch-to-5k running programme which I undertook at my own pace and now I am running 20km a week when before I could barely run to the end of my street. When I totted it up I realised I now do 4x the exercise I used to do at the gym when I was on a fitness kick.
A couple of reasons, really. I don’t know about other authors, but I cannot write when my body feels ‘twitchy’ or anxious. My former life left my body a wreck, producing far too much adrenaline and reacting to every minor stress as if it were life or death. This happened to the extent that those things actually became life or death and things looked really serious for me for a while there. I had to start taking really strong beta blockers just to control that. But I did not want to stay taking them for long so I sought out anything and everything that could help me use up my adrenaline and help me control my anxiety. Walking helped, running really helped and weights training topped that off.
I quickly found that after exercising I had a clearer head, a more relaxed body and even better: the time I spent exercising allowed my mind to wander freely through potential plots, twists, characterisations and all the other elements required in writing a novel. It was amazing thinking time.
So (at least in my case) writing and exercise have become natural partners and I love it. Best of all: I no longer need the beta blockers.