Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Biking and Writing

Much of my work happens away from the computer, when it probably doesn't look like I'm working at all. I do a ton of my writing in my head before it ever hits the page. I'm not perfecting dialogue or anything along those lines, just creating a loose sketch of what could happen and what makes sense for my characters. I do my best sketching and problem solving when I'm doing something physical.

When I was a theatre major, back in college, I had a horrible time memorizing lines (kind of a vital skill for a theatre major). One of my professors told me that walking while trying to process information engages the "cross-corporal" muscles and clicks things into gear. I had no idea what she was talking about, but I was desperate. I walked around campus with a script, reading to out loud to myself like an idiot. It worked like magic.

When I went back to school, I studied bio, wrote papers, and practiced for public speaking class while pacing around my kitchen table, talking to myself. I don't know why it works for me, but it does. When I'm moving, my brain really does click into gear in a different way.

One of my major breakthroughs on a past project came when I was raking leaves. I worked out an issue in a short story, finally, after a week of being stuck, while hiking with Argo.

Today, I need to figure out how to get my wily little folk singer a new guitar, so I'm going for a bike ride. I find that trail biking is best for thinking and mountain biking is best for clearing my head completely. I'm going to hit the trail and see what I come up with. Although, this time, I'm going to pay more attention to the biking part than I did last time.

A few weeks ago when I hopped on my bike to work out a problem, I got so wrapped up in my thoughts that I ended up 25 miles away from home in late afternoon, before I even thought to check the time or look at a map. I had to haul ass to bike 25 miles back before dark, and I could barely move the next day.

I'm going to aim for 20-30 miles today, and keep my thoughts in check enough to be practical about my trip length. I'll probably chat with myself a little bit while I bike, but at least I'll be going too fast for anyone to notice.

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