As writers, I’ve heard it said that when coming up with your plot you should discard the first solution that comes to your mind. Also the second and third. To come up with something truly unique, the fourth plot solution is the one your readers won’t expect. I can’t remember where I first heard it, but Nathan Bransford also wrote about discarding the first idea.
In other words, we writers need a divergent brain, like Tris in Veronica Roth’s books. This is where exercise comes in. Neurologist Dr. Po-Heng Tsai put it this way: “People who exercise have better executive frontal control. For divergent thinking, you want to loosen executive control to allow as many ideas to pop up as possible. The brain has to depend on oxygen, and when you get the heart rate going and the blood flowing and oxygen to the brain, it makes sense because that’s what the brain thrives on.”
The brain is a muscle – one that does better with more oxygen. When you exercise, you pump more blood and oxygen through your body and into your brain. Like Tris, we need to push our bodies in order to make the most of our brains, as much as we writers would prefer to sit at the computer all day in our pj’s eating chocolate. Publishing can be brutal – we need to be fit to survive.
Why do I have exercise on the brain? It might have something to do with the fact that I’m in the middle of doing the craziest workout program ever. (Oh Insanity, how I wish I could quit you!). Whenever I think of quitting though, I try to remind myself that a healthy body will not only help me physically, but mentally and creatively as well. It doesn’t really make me feel better, but it does help me keep going.