Cara Sue Achterburg: I Need to Run to Write

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I haven’t run in over two weeks. It’s pretty much killing me.

I’ve finally been sidelined by foot pain that the foot doc and the acupuncturist couldn’t fix. The only thing left to do is rest.Not my strong suit.

My mind is spilling over with all manner of ideas-questions-dreams-stories-paranoias-fears-worries-odd thoughts.

Running dispels the crazies for me. It helps me process my life and find a balance between what is a good idea and what is me-being-nutso. It tamps down my fears, checks my anger, and gives me perspective into parts of my life and people that I was eyeballing under a microscope.

Bottom line- I need to run or I become that grumpy friend who doesn’t cooperate, that nagging wife who keeps to her side of the bed, and that overbearing mother who wants all the details. Ask my family. Ask my friends. Heck, ask my current foster dog – I need to run.

I’ve known for a long time that I need to run for my health and well-being, but these few weeks are confirming that I need to run for my writing, too.

Lately, when I sit down to write, the thoughts tumble out incomprehensibly. I can’t organize them. They spill over the page and when I re-read them I realize not only am I rambling, but the casual observer would wonder if English was even my first language. Story ideas zip past like clouds in a hurricane and I’m never able to grab ahold of them in time to get them on the page.

I feel scattered mentally. What was I about to google? Who did I mean to email? What was I going to write about? Which kid needs me to pick him up where? What did I volunteer to bake for which event? Who was Will Bailey on the West Wing again? He’s doing a new podcast…

Tonight I start teaching an 8-week class on creative writing. I pulled out my syllabus to fine-tune it and was instantly distracted by multiple new ideas for writing exercises. I tried to scribble them all down. My mind ping-ponged between idea after idea. Ugh. Focus. Once I had tonight’s plan cemented (for the most part) in my mind, I glanced at next week’s. One note stuck out – repetitive physical exercise is great for allowing your mind time to play. Exactly. I teach that because I live that.

Sometimes the best thing a writer can do is go for a hike. Or wash the dishes. Or run the vacuum. When your body is busy, your mind can wander. I’ve had most of my best ideas at times other than when I sit in front of a keyboard and try to make it happen.

If I wasn’t convinced of this wisdom before this month, I am now – if you want to sort out a plot, imagine a new character, expand a fledgling idea, or find some writing inspiration – get moving. Get off your butt and let your mind move.

#amwriting #runningwriter #needtorun

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On March 28, 2016

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