Writer’s block? Go for a walk.

What do you do when your story isn’t moving forward? Here’s my advice: move yourself forward instead. Stand up, leave your desk, get out of the house and go for a walk.

Now, this might sound demented. Where are you going to find the time? Shouldn’t every spare second be spent on your work in progress?

The point is that, if you’re a writer, every spare second is already devoted to your work in progress. There’s nothing like fretting over a partly written novel to make the day fly by, especially if you’re at a tricky part of the writing or you’ve hit a block. It’s impossible to get the damn thing out of your mind, even if you’re busy doing other things. It simmers in the background, gently leaching your energy away.

But why it is only partly written and why are you fretting? The answer is: because your brain needs an oxygen boost to get your story moving. And that’s where exercise comes in. Slot the idea into the front of your mind, put on your walking shoes, and go for a purposeful march around the block while mulling over the bothersome section of your writing. If at all possible, I’d recommend getting out and about rather than climbing onto your treadmill, because you need a break from looking at the same four walls.

Now, while walking is enjoyable enough, you’re also giving your brain an unspoken, yet clear, threat. “Listen, brain. Have you noticed everything in this writer-shaped body is having to work a lot harder since we started toiling up this steep hill? More effort than when we were sitting still, isn’t it? Now, this could all change… if you came to the party. Start working on my plot, and I’ll put you back behind the desk where it’s nice and cool, and you can guzzle all the glucose you like while helping my characters out of their predicament.”

Then, when you’re back from your walk, kick off your shoes and return to your writing. Quickly, before you lose all the oxygen benefits and your brain forgets it was threatened. Chances are you’ll see your way forward – and if not, you can always choose a longer route for your next walk!

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