Not long into my winter break, I started getting a little concerned. I’d been feasting on my mom’s cookies for days, and I hadn’t ventured outdoors very much at all. (Cold weather is my kryptonite.) The extent of my exercise was climbing the stairs. This would not do. Eventually I allowed my mother to drag me to the community center, where I learned the (very) basics of some of the equipment. I also learned – or really remembered – something else: exercise can be really good for ideas.
Now, I’m not talking serious exercise. Whenever I’m forced into a shambling run, my brain can’t produce much more than ‘Auuuuugh!’ Walking or jogging, however, is different. My body is in motion, but I don’t have to pay much attention to it. My thoughts are free to run around. There’s none of the guilt when you ‘should’ be doing something else, either. After all, you’re doing something constructive already. The brainstorming is extra.
There may be some brain chemistry explanation for why I have sudden epiphanies on the elliptical. My suspicious nature leans toward a different reason – it’s inconvenient. Haven’t you noticed that you have breakthroughs at terrible times? I can’t count the occasions I’ve rolled out of bed to scribble something down, only to find it illegible or insane in the morning. (I have something scrawled on the back of one of my rough drafts, the product of some nightly dream. The only words I can make out are ‘ninja turtles’. Yeah. I think I’m happier not knowing.) If you’re comfortably ensconced, otherwise occupied, or don’t have pen and paper handy, I can almost guarantee that you’ll come up with the solution to all your plot hole problems. It’s the gift and curse of an always active mind.
What activities help you brainstorm? How do you remember good ideas?