Crime, Crunches, and the Creative Process

January is the time of year when we’re at our best: we’ve made resolutions, and we’re doing our darnedest to stick to them. Hands down, it should be my best month for working out, so why hasn’t it been?

Truth be known, I’m not much of a fitness enthusiast. I like to walk my dog when it’s nice out; that’s the extent of my athleticism. My zeal comes in short bursts right around New Year’s and swimsuit season. But there is one activity I’ve stuck with over the last few years, and that’s Zumba. I mean, who can resist a class where you can shake your bon-bon to “Uptown Funk?” It’s great. But lately, I’ve been struggling. I’ve still been showing up. I’m just not altogether there.

Zumba is pretty intense and incredibly fun; it’s not your grandma’s foxtrot (though I have a feeling, with enough practice, I could turn the foxtrot into something really intense). My class consists of forty-five minutes of steady Latin dance, and it can be hard to follow along to a new song or step. What I’m saying is that I have to pay attention if I don’t want to embarrass myself, which can easily be done even when I’m alert. And herein lies the problem.

Instead of paying attention, I’ve been plotting a murder (fictional, of course). Twenty minutes in, and I realize I’m just going through the Zumba motions—and badly at that. My head is too busy going through different suspect scenarios to focus on squats or shimmies. By the time I walk out the door at eight o’clock, I’m looking over my shoulder, convinced someone is waiting in the wings.

Maybe it’s an occupational habit. I am finished with my second book and thinking about the third in the series. Could Professor Prather take up Zumba? Though the idea is not completely without appeal (in fact, it makes me laugh out loud), I know this mystery probably has more to do with my creative process than my series.

Even when I’m not writing, I’m thinking about writing. And while being distracted isn’t the best way to beat belly flab, it can be a great way to invent a mystery. The how, when, and where of novel writing take a lot of real-life walking around. They are as important as sitting down in front of the computer and typing.

So I’ll keep going to class because I know it’s good for me, physically and mentally. It gives me the time and space I need to think about writing. It also gives me the perfect excuse to sing along to Pitbull.


Readers, how are your resolutions going? Are there any activities you do that serve a dual purpose?




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