Storytelling: Get Out

Posted on June 29, 2011


Cerebral Activity

Before I started writing, I considered it a purely cerebral activity. You worked in your pajamas or your bathrobe. You wrote long-hand in notebooks, or used a typewriter, because I started writing before there were word processors. Actually, that misconception explains a lot of the early challenges that I faced as a writer.

Now let me go put my teeth in so I can chew my fiber. That’s called “exaggeration for humorous effect.”

The Teacher Appears

Then I met Steve Barnes. By a strange coincidence, my then-employer Wizards of the Coast was looking for a martial arts instructor as part of its physical fitness program at the same time that Steve was looking for students. He lived down the road a bit and drove up once a week to teach us. We hit it off, and when the program ended at WotC, I was one of the students who started driving to his house monthly to keep training with him. We kept doing that until he moved to Los Angeles (he now lives in Atlanta).

Steve might be the least sedentary person I know. He’s very kinetic. If you’ve ever gone to a convention, like NorWesCon, and participated in one of his morning Tai Chi workshops, you know what I mean.

Lessons Learned

I learned a lot from Steve, and not just about Tai Chi or Pentjak Silat. One of the invaluable writing, and life, lessons that I got from our association was the necessity for physical exercise. Your brain is part of your body. It depends on your heart to pump oxygen-bearing blood way up into your skull in order to function. Your heart evolved in such a way that it depends on your entire body moving in order to pump blood most efficiently. Ever wonder why you’re so groggy when you first wake up? Or why, if you’re like me, you start tossing and turning and moving well before your alarm goes off? It’s because you’ve been relatively motionless for hours, and you need to move in order to get fuel to your brain.

Get Out

I’m not saying that all storytellers are, or should be, Olympic triathletes. Far from it. I am suggesting that it doesn’t take much exposure to sun to boost your vitamin D production (recent studies show vitamin D is a key component of our immune systems).

Get Up

I am telling you also that if you want to tell stories, you need to move your body.

  • If you haven’t been exercising, see your doctor before you start. I’m too responsible not to say that.
  • Start slow. Even 10 minutes a day does wonders.
  • Do what you like. Dance. Garden. Walk your dogs. Rock climb.
  • Keep it simple. Stuck at some point in your creative work? Take a quick break for a few push-ups or squats or crunches – or dance to a song on the radio.
  • Finish happy. The positive associations will bring you back.

Tell your story. Tell your family’s story. Contribute to the ongoing human story.

Posted in: Self-Reference