Not too long ago I shrank in my seat while attending a leadership seminar. Two of the speakers said their secret to a creative and productive day was spending an hour each morning exercising. Working out cleared their heads, they said, and gave them energy to sustain themselves throughout the day, improving their mood while increasing their creativity.
I’ve never been very disciplined about exercise, and I found myself making excuses as to why I couldn’t live my life like them. I don’t have an hour to spare in the morning, I said to myself, because I dedicate an hour each morning to my creative writing and revising. I need that hour, I said, because it clears my head, gives me energy that sustains, throughout the day, improves my mood, and increases my creativity.
Oh, I realized. I have a mental exercise routine.
I am not a neuroscientist, so I don’t know why spending an hour in deep creative work–an hour I could spend sleeping–produces more energy and more creativity. But it does. And I am particularly cognizant of that this morning.
Regular readers will know that, not too long ago, I fell out of my writing routine, and ended up neglecting my work-in-progress for weeks. Then I found my way back, and things just flowed. Well, it seems I am a slow learner, because I just went another week without honoring my morning ritual. Oh, I had excuses. Travel, job demands, family. I told myself that if I took that hour back, I would have an extra hour to attend to all of those other demands.
But what those leadership speakers said was that by surrendering their hour to exercise, their productivity improved such that they accomplished more in the rest of the day than they would have had they given that hour to their jobs.
So I returned this morning, once again, to my writing routine. And, low and behold, I felt enough of a creative rush to write this post, my first to this site in two weeks. I am a slow learner, but if I keep calling myself out publicly on these setbacks, maybe the lesson will sink in. A daily workout with my muse is not an indulgence, but an investment.