I recently read an article about exercise and creativity. Simply put, it said that exercise increases divergent (not the movie) and cognitive thinking. They’re pretty similar. Divergent thinking is coming up with multiple solutions to one problem while cognitive thinking is coming up with one solution to a problem.
This got me thinking (ha!). During National Novel Writing Month last year, I hit a wall. Not literally, though I tend to do that sometimes. But my story was stuck and I had about 20k more words to reach the goal, which was 50k. I was still writing faithfully every day, but my characters were wandering through the pages without any real purpose. Actually, they got chatty during that time because I didn’t know what else to do. What I had written of my outline before the challenge started was running out fast and I was desperate for ideas.
I stated in a previous blog post that I’m an avid exerciser. One evening during that time, I went to a Metabolic Effect class and came out with the direction I needed. No lie! What I came up with during that high intensity workout went into the story and it fits so well it a going to make it through the revision process.
How exercise specifically helps the problem solving parts in the brain, I don’t know. But it got me out of my writer’s block that night. It has also proven to be an effective stress reliever. Running kills stress like nothing else.
So the next time you’re stressed or are going through a bout of writer’s block, go for a walk. You don’t have to do something high intensity. A walk through your neighborhood or in the park may be just what you need. Sometimes it helps just to get away from the problem and clear your head for a while.