Monday, November 1, 2021

The One Tool That Can Double Your Writing Output

P.T. Phronk
A post by P.T. Phronk,
of Forest City Pulp fame

Please forgive the clickbait headline and inevitably disappointing answer, but I have a point to make. So shut up.
I’ve discovered a device that can literally increase how many words you write if you use it enough. It’s something that’s commonly available, and you may already have one in your home.
The device that can double your writing output is: the bicycle.
An article has been making the rounds claiming that eating one hot dog subtracts 36 minutes from your life. While that’s likely oversimplified, it’s certainly true that people who engage in unhealthy activities like eating hot dogs, smoking, and sitting still all day die sooner than people who don’t. Who sits around all day? Writers. Yet, what is a basic requirement for typing words? Being alive.
When you’re on a bicycle, not only are you not sitting still, but you are burning off the calories from that hot dog you hurriedly shoved into your face so you could get back to writing.
Cycling on a regular basis adds years to your life. One article estimates an extra 5 years for people who cycle vigorously, though that estimate obviously depends on a lot of other things.
Perhaps more importantly, regular exercise gives you more years of productive life, free from effects of aging like dementia, physical pain, and dealing with disease. Even if you don’t live longer, you can be healthy longer, and that means more years of putting coherent words on a page. 


My bicycle. Getting on a bike and riding into the woods is the best thing you can do for your productivity. Optional: coming back.

Since I turned 40, I’ve been thinking about this a lot. I’m beginning to feel the effects of age, but I still have enough years ahead of me to fit in a lot of hot dogs—or bike rides. Habits I stick with now will affect how many things I can do each year, and how many years I have to do them. I’ve been using writing as an example, because it’s easy to quantify: 60 minutes of cycling a week can equate to an extra novel or two in my lifetime.
However, the less quantifiable and more immediate effects matter too. I feel great after a long bike ride, physically and mentally. Biking around for an hour or two is a rare chance to focus entirely on the present moment. Without the ability to check my phone or listen to a podcast or think about anything too complex, it’s like meditation, except the focus isn’t my breathing, but the path ahead. And if I must return to the capitalist habit of quantifying the benefits in terms of productivity: I’m way more inspired and motivated to make shit happen after I’ve had that chance to clear my mind.
It won't necessarily make me write better, so I'll probably just end up writing about zombies again, but at least I won't be one.

P.S. Autumn Christian wrote about some similar things in her newsletter recently. “I think we should bring back the weight lifting philosopher. The jacked intellectual. Lift weights in the morning. Write brilliant dissertations in the evening. Learn that everything we do is a circuit, a conjoined union, and we are our bodies as much as our brains.”


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