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Jog Your Mind

Super-excited today to post the essay I wrote for Fitness magazine about how running helps me write. I've mentioned that here before, but I'm noticing it again as spring is in the air and I'm prying myself off the elliptical and out onto the open roads: my writing is getting smoother, the words are coming more easily, and I know that it's not a coincidence. It's not just the adrenaline that works in my favor. I think it's because I've discovered that running (or to be fair, most forms of exercise) is the one hour of my day where I am accountable to no one but myself. No kids, no husband, no ringing phone, no dog to walk, no work email going off. Just me. And that really helps me filter my thoughts and focus in on what I want to deal with. And often times, it's wherever I am in my writing process or book. You don't have to be a runner to use this tactic to help your work - take a walk, a leisurely stroll even: I think it just really helps to tune out the outside noise of our every day life and let your words and characters find their way to you in that moment. It's nice outside, guys! There's no excuse. :)

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Reader Comments (17)

Loved the essay Allison! Thank you so much for sharing it on your blog.

March 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNina Badzin

Thanks so much, Nina!

March 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAllison Winn Scotch

Thank you Allison for showing us another benefit of jogging! I love your blog!

March 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterYary-laingo

I love this essay and I think about this all the time. Ideas for my own blog and book come to me most often when I'm on the treadmill, in the shower, on a plane or about to fall asleep.... basically anywhere I don't have access to a computer (though because of this I've started bringing my computer on all flights). As you say, it's the freedom to think about anything and everything, not be tied to a desk or phone or inbox. Only when I have time to let my mind wander for a while do the flashes of "genius" (or the closest I've come..) occur to me. Thanks for articulating it so well!

Loved the article, Allison! I think it's something so many of us can relate to, the importance of taking even the smallest bit of time every day to just focus on that "you" time. It's amazing when you think of how it so often breeds that spark of inspiration.

And because I'm a huge Kelly Clarkson fan, I have to ask - what song were you listening to when the idea for Time of My Life was born? I've always felt that music plays an essential and special role in the writing process, and several of Kelly's songs have prompted new ideas and inspiration for me!

March 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterShari

LOVE the essay, Allison! My favorite "muse" is riding my bike along the Delaware River in Lambertville, NJ/ New Hope, PA. So inspirational!

Great photo, btw!

March 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterErika

That is awesome. I believe in the power of running as well. I've been running and racing since I was five years old and it is the best way to clear your head.

March 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCopyStrands

I actually think *at the exact moemnt* that I stumbled upon the idea for TOML, I was listening to Chantel Kreviazuk's Time. Have you heard it before? It's a GREAT song. As far as Kelly, LOVE her too. These days, Long Shot, off her last album, is a big one on my running rotation, as are all of her standard girl-power anthems.

LOL, thanks for saying that about the picture. OMG, my husband took the photos to submit to the mag, and I nearly killed him trying to get it done. So glad that it all worked out in the end. :)

March 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAllison Winn Scotch

The name of that Chantel song sounded so familiar, but for some reason I couldn't quite pinpoint it. I just looked it up and listened to the whole song, and not only do I recognize it now, but I can SO understand how it provided inspiration for Time of My Life! Don't you just love it when a song speaks to you and your ideas like that? It makes you look at (and listen to) it in a whole new way.

And Kelly's Long Shot?!? I love that it's on your list! It's one of my favorites off her most recent album (along with Impossible), but I've yet to find anyone else who likes it as much. I was hoping that she'd perform it on her latest tour, but hopefully she'll add it to a future setlist. Love that you're a fan of hers, too!

March 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterShari

Awesome! I love your voice in this piece. And you're reminding me of how much I want to run again. Mostly because I'm turning into a blob, haha, but getting inspired wouldn't hurt! :P

March 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKristan

Great article.
And the knock on effects of running are sensational. I've just been to Rome with my husband. He ran the Rome Marathon while I took a 10km solitary walk and fell in love - with an entire city. I wandered around the quieter areas alone with my thoughts and relished every second.

March 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGina

Great article! I long ago discovered how exercise benefitted my writing! Somehow, the rigors and boredoms of physical exercise give me a clarity I often don't have at my desk. Character motivations become bolder, story expectations come into focus... The choice of music helps a lot too. When I'm at my desk I'm a complicated, detail writer. Out on my feet I see the big picture.

March 23, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterdirtywhitecandy

I love this, Allison. I'm the same way. Running is how I figured out that chapter 4 of my memoir had to go and that chapter 5 was really chapter 2. I often write essays as I work my way along the river road. Wonderful article!

March 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKate

Crazy! This article was the reason I checked out your website! I am an avid reader and aspiring writer, so anything to do with any literature interests me (now I am bound to read all of your books before the week is up :). was the first day in many years that I went for a run. My husband finally succeeded in shoving me out the door with my shoes! Just had my second child and have most recently recovered from gallbladder surgery, so it is time to get in shape once more. Oddly enough, Fitness appeared on my doorstep today! Thank you so much for being an inspiration to me!! I am now looking forward to jogging my mind on a regular basis. :)

March 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterShannon VM

Shannon - Thanks for finding me (and us!) here. So glad that the story served as inspiration...good luck with the new running routine and congrats on your second baby!

March 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAllison Winn Scotch

The fact that you can get your leg up that far tells me how badly I need to get off the couch.

Congrats on the article.

March 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKatrina

Exercise gets my mind going too. I'm still doing workout videos inside, but I'm familiar enough with them that I can do the routine on auto-pilot and let my mind wander. Today I had to hit pause twice to write notes before I forgot the gem that butt-kicks popped into my head.

March 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMelanie

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