I had the distinct honour of watching a painter start a painting. From placing her canvas onto an easel and staring at the white space to the pulling out of the image. I took notes. I asked her questions as she created. She moved like a dancer whose dance floor was the canvas, whose audience was her cat and me, whose music was paint, whose steps were strokes and strips and rips from brushes. It was incredible to watch. And experience.
And then she had to stop.
She needed to give her body a break. Her brain. Her hands. Her soul.
At some point, our art becomes physical. Whether we are painters or musicians or writers, our creativity sweats and cries and twists out of us such that it causes a physical reaction.
(Secret: If I’m writing a sexy scene or an erotic story, I typically have to stop to…well, cool off. Or finish off…) (Yeah, I just admitted this.)
And we need to stop to regroup, to eat, to sleep, to celebrate – anything to break the pain or elation or joy or whatever emotion(s) take over so much that we must pause our masterpiece. Or we can choose to paint or write through it. And it hurts. There are many times when I’ve been stuck and frustrated, and I wring my hands in between words and I yell to the ceiling and I curse my characters – but I write through it to get it all out. Then my body falls in a heap of exhaustion. And I must leave the story alone and re-energize. There are times when I cry because I’m so connected to my story and characters who are suffering that I feel it in my body like I’m living it too.
Creativity is physical. And we must rest when we need it. We must listen to our body’s voice as much as our character’s voice.
It’s been 22 days since I committed to including physical exercise in my life. I know many writers who exercise every day because they see and feel a direct relation to their creative output and their physical fitness. Julia Cameron, creative guru-genius-goddess, suggests walking as a key element in a creative life. She even has a book called ‘The Writing Diet‘ – dedicated the correlation of body and creative mind. I bet if you researched your favourite writer, you could find information about how he/she keeps physically fit in order to be creative.
I feel better since I’ve been exercising. And yes, some days I exercise instead of writing. And that hurts in it’s own kinda way, but I feel better overall. I can get up earlier. Stay up later. My mind is clearer. And my ideas are flowing, flowing, flowing.
How do you deal with the physical nature of being a creative writer? Or a painter? Or musician? Do you feel a connection between creative output and exercise?