Thursday, January 12, 2006

Writer's Workout

As a screenwriter, you will spend most of your day sat in front of the computer, staring at the screen, surfing the net, responding to emails or actually working on your screenplay in fits of inspiration.

If all the food and drink is in the house, and the computer vortex sucks you in, it’s likely that you won’t leave the house at all. That’s not even getting fresh air.

One way or the other, it means you’re sat in your chair for two hour stretches or more, with brief respites to pee or eat. This PC inertia is not good for the body. Everyone knows this. But there is a way to maintain basic cardio vascular exercise and keep reasonably fit and healthy.

It’s Danny’s Writer’s Workout! (©)

Here are some simple, basic exercises that you can do at home, for free, without any need to join a gym, hire a personal trainer or buy expensive equipment.

I know this sounds faintly absurd and a little weird but I offer this advice after six years of battling a back injury and acquiring a vast knowledge of pilates, physio and basic osteopathy in the process.

This culminated last year in having two back operations, one in January, the other in November, to which I am slowly responding. And the exercises definitely help as well as keep in me sensible shape.

Swimming is the best exercise for back injuries and/or writers (2/3 times a week for 30 mins is good), and a 10 min walk for fresh air is always welcome, but when you find yourself stuck indoors and with no motivation to budge, then try these alternative exercises.

Steps: At the gym, you’d probably hammer a ‘Stairmaster’ but hey, you have them at home. Use them. If you live in a ground floor flat, that’s ok, use a box, or something you can step up onto. Start off with a five minute routine of going up and down the stairs (or box). Play two of your favourite songs to keep you distracted. If you’re up for it, do ten minutes but believe me, it’s more knackering than it sounds.

The intention is to get your joints moving and your heart pumping. If you don’t find yourself out of breath and feel your heart beating in your chest, you’re not doing it enough. Go faster or slower depending on how you feel.

Abs: Lie down on the ground (after the stair routine, this will be easy). Bend your knees. Put your hands behind your neck and, using your tummy muscles, lift your upper torso & head towards your knees. Now scream: “oh godddddd”. Only kidding. That’ll come after about four or five ‘reps’ (repetitions). Try to do as many as you can humanly tolerate but again, at least five minutes is good.

Legs & Neck: Sit on your kitchen table. Bear with me. Hopefully, your feet won’t be able to touch the ground. Now, turn your head down so your chin rests on your chest. Lift your leg up slowly to stretch and whilst doing so, raise your head to accompany your leg. Feel that hamstring baby. Work it. You look great. Repeat on the other side (x10).

Stretches: Bend your left knee and hold your foot by your bum. Stretch that femur. Yeah it feels good. Do the same on t’other side. About 10 each.

Standing: Place your left arm behind your neck and stretch down your back. With your right hand, hold your left elbow and pull. Feel it? That’s it. 10 on either side. Do it mister.

Can’t be arsed doing any of this? Then do some exercises while you’re sitting at the computer.

Bum to the back of the seat.

Back straight and upright.

Shoulders relaxed.

Hands poised over the keyboard (to avoid RSI: repetitive strain injury).

Feet firmly on the ground, evenly apart.

Pull in your stomach and hold as long as there’s breath or will left in your body.

Another good one is pull your chin in towards your neck as quickly as you can. Repeat 10 times.

After a few of those, hold the position of the chin by your neck and look left to right, slowly.

If you’ve really got your mojo writing going and have no time for girlie exercises, try to stand up every 20 mins/half hour to do some basic stretching before resuming your Oscar winning script.

That’s it. You were great. Time for a shower.

And why not have a 2 litre bottle of water next to your pot of coffee? And a bowl of fruit too. Some nuts (not too many) or seeds (sunflower, pumpkin) are also good for snacks and so, so good for you.

Peace, love and brown rice.


Kas said...

excellent! I'll try some next week.

Weirdly, in front of me I have a cup of coffee, a 2L bottle of water, and a bowl of sunflower seeds…

Lee said...

Just reading all that bought on my asthma.

DDog said...

You've inspired me to spend my hard-earned Christmas money on that treadmill I've had my eye on....

On second thought, I'll take that box of glazed doughnuts and a 40 oz Mountain Dew.

In all sincerity, I thought about blogging about this a few times. It's a good idea... as I'm looking to get rid of the ol' screenwriter spare tire.

Dr Ian Hocking said...

Good post. I was just constructing an elaborate mental scenario that'll stop me from having to go for a run (at the moment, I've convinced myself that there will be too many students walking home from lectures). The stairs sound much more convenient...

Stu said...

I feel ill