To me, it is like going for a jog but with my brain.
I begin by sitting at my desk, spreading the paper out in front of me, and flexing my fingers, just as I might tie up my running shoes and step out onto the street, stretching my legs quickly before starting.
The words come slowly at first; they are hesitant and awkward, bumbling from my mind, through my body, and then out onto the page. The rhythm is rocky and unnatural. Ideas and phrases press together like my hot breath pressing out into the cool morning air as I pick up speed and relax into my stride. I can feel my brain warming up.
I run faster, my jumbled expressions becoming coherent and my confidence building. My energy reaches its peak and I break into a sprint, my hand clenching the pen and shooting across the page. I feel powerful: alive and strong.
And then… I begin to slow. The energy seeps from my fingertips just as, during a jog, the strength drains from my leg muscles. My brain becomes tired, fumbling more now than when I began. My ideas become senseless words — thoughts that will never fully form. The pen drags over the paper and eventually stops completely.
My brain pants and sweats (figuratively, of course). I have just finished my daily mental/creative work-out.
As a writer, I believe it is important to view the brain in the way I have described above — mainly, as a muscle that can become tired, that requires hard work in order to stay in shape, and that needs time to rest. Writing, as with many other art forms, may give happiness and satisfaction, but it does not often provide energy.
Along with my daily writing exercises, I try to focus on resting my brain and giving it time to recover. Some methods I find most effective for this purpose are as follows:
- Quiet walks
These may seem obvious, but they are often difficult to incorporate in every day life. Music, television, and the internet, which I find hinder my brain performance, are usually much more tempting than a nap or a difficult bout of physical exercise. Once you have conquered the act of writing or practicing your art daily, the next immediate step is to conquer the act of resting, and resting well.
And, finally, resting your brain will not only improve your quality of writing, but it will also increase your quantity, meaning you will be able to write for longer periods of time, and therefore produce more art on a daily basis.
In short, your mental endurance will increase and soon your brain will be sprinting.