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Exercise Your Brain

November 18, 2015

 

Unless you've been living under a rock all of your life, you are all familiar with sports and exercise - even if you have never done either. You at least know an athlete. There is at least one athlete in everyone's family: that cousin who played football all through high school, and perhaps even college; that sibling who played basketball in school; etc. Or let's say for one second that you come from one of the few families on the face of the earth that doesn't have any athletes in it - you still know who Michael Jordan is. Even aliens on Mars know who the greatest NBA player in history is. Now, I don't know if I can categorize bowling as a sport - I certainly wouldn't equate bowlers with athletes who put their bodies through the rigor of streneous exercise, but hey, for the sake time, I'll call bowlers athletes. I'll even give golfers the same distinction. 

 

What do we know about sports? What have we learned from either watching athletes or being athletes? What has sports taught us that is so crucial to living life effectively? Three things: 1. Everyone needs a coach, 2. you must warm-up before playing a sport, and 3. you only get better at something the more you practice it.

 

Without a coach you tend to make mistakes that you could otherwise avoid. A coach doesn't have to be better than you at what you do. I mean, come on, think about it: do you think for one second that Teddy Atlas could have survived in the ring for thirty seconds against his trainee Mike Tyson? Of course not! But Teddy was still the coach. As the coach, it was Teddy's job to motivate and push Tyson pass his limitations, and to stand on the outside and see what Tyson couldn't see during a match. If a coach gets insecure and tries to compete with their trainee, the whole team loses. 

 

Warm-up exercises are crucial when playing a sport. What can happen to you if you choose not to warm up before playing a sport? You will run the risk of tearing or pulling a muscle, and that hurts . . . a lot. If you've torn or pulled a muscle, you can't compete anymore. It's off to the hospital and then the sidelines for you.

 

Lastly, if you don't practice your craft on a consistent basis you won't be any good at it. It doesn't matter if it's your passion; it has to be your discipline in order for you to get good at it. 

 

Now, did you know that your brain functions the same way your body does? Yep. It does. You have to train and condition your brain the same way you do your body if you want to be a good writer. Take the three rules of sports we just discussed and apply them to your brain: 1. Find someone who can help motivate you to write and who will help push you pass your creative limits; 2. do mental warm-up exercises such as read (reading stimulates the brain, causing your creativity to flow, which helps you to bypass writer's block); and lastly, 3. both write and study writing and other great writers. Write about everything. Get a journal and write down your thoughts. Get use to writing. Keep a pen and notepad close by so that you can jot down thoughts as they come to you, and practice turning those thoughts into some literary work (a poem, short story, memoir, etc.). Also, study other writers. Why do this? Because studying different writing styles and techniques used by others will help you to cultivate your own style and technique. You must be a student of this game if you want to win it.

 

Exercise your brain like an athlete exercises their body. They do it out of discipline, out of necessity, knowing that if they take time off they'll get stale and out of shape. Your brain works the same way, so don't get lazy.

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