running thoughts

I spent an hour on the treadmill in my basement last evening (because it’s 97 degrees outside on the first full day of summer!) and soon after hurried up to my humble writing room to pop open one of my Fathers and Sons stories to incorporate the wonderful insight I had about it whilst pounding away on the ever-moving belt below my feet.

I don’t run with music or podcasts, nor when I’m on my treadmill do I watch television. I will look about the portion of my basement before me and lament all of the “stuff” my children have left behind in my safekeeping, but after a while, that gets boring and I go deep inside my head. Often my thoughts turn to my stories — finished and unfinished — and occasionally some insight pops up that must be incorporated. This kind of thing also happens when I’m running outside, generally when I have five or more miles to go before I get home (or to the bagel shop). In those cases I must repeat whatever this insight is, almost as a mantra, so I won’t forget it before my fingers can do their own running across the keyboard. If I’m lucky I can chant it in a cadence that matches my pace (i.e., slowly).

I’m not sure if there is a technical term for how my creativity works. It aggregates. It synthesizes. I think of some random thing, and I suddenly realize how perfectly it illustrates or suits a story I’m working on. This kind of stuff is unbidden but certainly not unwelcome. I can sit down with a pencil and paper and work out a plot in outline form (which I don’t generally do), and I can begin writing a new story from that. But these insights that come from out of the blue are what enrich the stories. The insight I had on the treadmill last evening fit nicely into one of the early F&S stories (in their internal chronology) and yet influenced the understanding of the second-to-last story. That’s good stuff. It fit so naturally that I sometimes actually believe there is a Muse out there tampering with my fecund brain, nudging it in the right direction for developing the stories. (I don’t actually believe this.)

And so, a little more progress. I’m grateful.

Explore posts in the same categories: Fathers and Sons, Process


You can comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.

3 Comments on “running thoughts”

  1. It’s been some time since I’ve run regularly, but I love when a thought hits and you like it in as a cadence. It’s not the right time of the year to get back to running, but despite the heat, I hope to do some things that will make getting back to running this fall a bit easier. Because I’m not sure there are many better feelings than carrying a thought in one’s head while running along in a weird mental bubble existence for a bit in the morning or evening.

    I think you’re right about how ideas and other things happen. There seems to be a certain stillness in the back of the mind while doing other tasks (running, cleaning, working at the day job). And then BOOM! it happens…another little piece of it all. It’s partially why I like giving things time to roll around and develop deeper than if I said, “Here is my outline, and here is what happens.” And then writing that, calling it done, and moving on to the next thing.

    While I understand the workaday attitude toward fiction many working writers have, I feel it shows in their work. The work often lacks those layers that make something worth devoting time to reading. I get it–it’s fun, and that’s what many people want. (Those stories definitely have their place.) But I like something a bit more, and I think those kinds of things develop from allowing the mind to not be so distracted so it can work in things in the background.

  2. One of the things I’ve noticed is the more I’m working on my book, even if it’s just a little bit most days, the more likely I’m going to have a sudden idea or insight doing dishes or walking the dog.

  3. […] The latest entry on his blog is about how creative ideas tend to hit while doing other things…in this case, running. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: