In the Writer’s Chair: I’m Better When I Move

When it comes to how I figure out story sequences or bits of dialogue, and sometimes the more complex plotting, I’m reminded of my favorite scene from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Paul Newman and Robert Redford are in Boliva, hiding out from the U.S. authorities, and they take a job as the security detail protecting the payroll of a mining operation. But before they get hired, the boss wants them to prove they’re worth hiring. So the boss chucks a tin, and tells Redford’s Sundace KWhen it comes to how I figure out story sequences or bits of dialogue, and sometimes the more complex plotting, I’m reminded of my favorite scene from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Paul Newman and Robert Redford are in Boliva, hiding out from the U.S. authorities, and they take a job as the security detail protecting the payroll of a mining operation. But before they get hired, the boss wants them to prove they’re worth hiring. So the boss chucks a tin, and tells Redford’s Sundace Kid to shoot it. Standing in place, he shoots, but misses by about a foot.

Looking distraught, Sundance does this quick pivot move and blasts the tin like four times in a row. The boss looks at him, amazed, and Sundance says, "I’m better when I move."

Well, that’s how I am when it comes to thinking things through. When I’m writing, and need to figure something out in my head before I can really get going, many times, although not always, I get stuck, just sitting there at the computer. My fingers hover over the keys, twitching, wanting to clack away, but I don’t know where to take them. In my mind’s eye I can’t see where to go.

So I physically get up from the desk. I walk around my apartment and I think out loud. I talk it out. And usually I grab my whiffleball bat and twirl it around, take a few swings, and just get my body going. There’s something about motion, about the physical act of swinging my arms and getting my blood flowing, that helps me think. And during this process sometimes I’ll get inspired, and head right back to the computer and clack away, and sometimes it lasts, sometimes not.

Other times I’ll flop down on the couch, thinking, and then I’ll walk around some more, into the kitchen, into the bedroom, even out on the balcony. And then I’ll head back in, take a few more swings, and slowly but surely the ideas start coming. My mind loosens. I can see where I need to go, and can think it through. There are usually a lot of starts and stops, thinking I’m on track only to realize I’ve thought myself into a corner, but ultimately, I find my way.

While writing for me takes place at the keyboard, the writing [i]process[/i] is much more all over the place. The ideas comes to me when they come to me. I need to be active, to get physical.

Like the Sundance Kid, I’m better when I move.

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