The results are in!
August went by faster than I anticipated, and now it is time to come back to talk about how my experiment to track the effect of exercise and good eating on my creativity.
What I Did
For those who are just now tuning in, I attended a panel at a writing conference that talked about the connection between physical exercise, creativity, and intelligence. Since the pandemic began, I found myself becoming quite lazy, and I decided to track the correlation on my own creativity and physical fitness as a way to motivate me to get back into activity.
To complete this experiment, I tracked my caloric intake, the days I exercised, what I felt like my creativity/motivation level was when I wrote, as well as how many words I produced that day.
Observations and Outcomes
I noticed a lot of interesting things during my experiment. For one, I found at the beginning of the month, there was one week where I did at least a little physical movement each day. That entire week, I had the highest motivation over the whole month! I felt inspired, I had high word counts, and I got a lot done!
I also noticed a lag in the benefits I got from eating well and working out. Most of the days following my workouts I had higher levels of motivation, and if I ate badly the day before, it affected my ability to get up and write the next morning. Additionally, the days I did intense workouts like running, I slept better and was more rested for my 4:00 am writing session.
Additionally, I found I had higher levels of creativity during and after my workouts. I solved a lot of problems with my manuscript while on runs or in my post-workout shower. I also got some amazing brainstorming done for my manuscript’s sequel that will help me prepare an outline for National Novel Writing Month this November.
I got sick in the middle of the month and it killed my progress. It knocked me off the wagon hard, and my data never quite recovered from it. My motivation and energy slipped and even though I was still working out at least four times a week, and I began to stress eat. It was a downward spiral the rest of the month.
However, it is possible my data is a little skewed because about the same time I got sick, I realized my goal of revising my whole manuscript by September 22nd was too high. I got extremely discouraged. This probably prevented my word counts and motivation from being as positively affected by my physical activity and eating practices as they could have been.
The last thing I noticed was that what I ate seemed to have more an effect on me than how much I ate. The days where I ate nothing but junk and chocolate (like when I was stress eating towards the middle/end of the month), my creativity was low, I felt sluggish, and exercising was really hard. But the days where I had balanced nutrition I felt the most creative benefit and it made my workouts more potent.
Expectations vs Reality
In my first blog post, I listed few things I had hoped to get out of this experiment, so I went back and compared those expectations to what actually happened.
First, I had hoped to get a better understanding of how I treat my body affects my creativity. That totally manifested. I understand better how important it is for me to get that good nutrition and physical movement for the support of my brain chemicals. I can’t argue with the results. I made strides in my projects that I wasn’t making before. I felt super effective, and I was getting astronomically high word counts daily.
My second hope was that I would find this as a way to jump start my creativity when I need it most. I can say yes! Exercising is a way to boost my creativity. It doesn’t take long for the brain enhancing chemicals to get flowing, the oxygen to start pumping, and the ideas cranking.
The last thing I was interested in seeing was whether or not there were extra, outlying benefits. I saw quite a few.
I felt better and slept better. I discovered that eating sugar right before going to bed prevents me from sleeping. Overeating also decreased my ability to sleep well, and hard workouts got me ready to go to bed early enough to be refreshed for my 4:00 am writing sessions.
I also found that it got easier to get my butt out the door to workout because physical activity got easier as I got stronger. I only required myself to workout every other day, which made exercise less intimidating and gave me a needed rest. I also realized that heat takes a huge toll on my ability to physically perform, and over the course of the month, I was, overall, happier. The exercise I was doing gave me enough brain chemicals to prevent my lows from dipping too deep on my bad days.
I can definitely enhance my creativity through physical fitness. Both exercise and nutrition have a positive effect on my creativity and if I’m looking for a boost in reaching my goals, I know taking care of my body will help me do so. I also know that if I’m stuck in a creative slump or block, I can get really good brainstorming done on my runs.
I definitely want to (and have done my best to) keep going with this habit. Mission accomplished!
What is one way you take care of your body that boosts your creativity? Let me know in the comments below!