Half Marathons and Showers

There are those long hours in the middle of the night, four to six am preferably, where my brain is on fire and I have so many brilliant, earth-shatteringly profound thoughts that I couldn’t possibly go back to sleep. I simply HAVE to get up and write them down so they don’t slip away into the black hole of the five-minute snooze I might succumb to before a short person comes marching into the bedroom demanding his or her morning snuggle and we’re UP.

When the kids are off on the bus, I can’t wait to re-read all the brilliance I jotted down so feverishly during my bout of creative insomnia and then I’m like, girl, that’s…not nearly as good as you remembered it to be.  So the middle of the night is kind of out for idea-generation. Just sitting at the desk and waiting for the great ideas to slap me in the face isn’t happening either. That just leads to a chorus of cricket-chirping in my brain and a crippling grip of panic in my chest.

So what does work for me, at least sometimes, to get the creative juices flowing? Two words. Half marathons and showers (OK, three words then. Listen, it’s five am as I’m writing this.)

It definitely is not a coincidence that I ran four half marathons in the year I wrote ONLY CHILD. There is a direct correlation between running and writing for me. Running centers me and frees my brain for some serious, meditative state-like thinking. Not during the first couple of miles because then my legs feel like lead and my lungs burn and oh, I should have peed one more time before I left the house. But then the magical endorphin-thing happens and ideas start popping all over the place. I wrestled to come up with the perfect title for my book and I remember the exact spot on the trail, in the middle of the woods, where I stopped abruptly with a revelation. ONLY CHILD. THAT’S a great title.   

And speaking of the flowing of creative “juices”…all that running leads to lots of showering. And showers are the next best thing to running when it comes to zoning out and thinking deeply. Somehow maybe the warm water loosens me up or shaving my legs triggers increased brain function, I don’t know what it is, but it’s working. Plus, let’s be honest, it’s just a good place to hide from the kids. They won’t come near me because they’re afraid I’ll make them come in and use soap.

Rhiannon Navin