Nicola Vincent-Abnett

Nicola Vincent-Abnett
"Savant" for Solaris, Wild's End, Further Associates of Sherlock Holms, more Wild's End

Saturday 5 May 2012

That whole ‘where do ideas come from?’ thing again.

I’m not a huge fan of physical exercise, and I never have been. I wasn’t quite the kid who got picked last for games, but I was certainly in the bottom half of the class when it came to team sports. Frankly, I would always rather be reading a book. Of course, that was when I still hurtled around at playtime, running and skipping, and generally wearing myself out physically.
Then there was all that dance. I danced for years, and then I danced in clubs for a few more years. I also lifted a lot of weights at university. Yep... you did read that correctly. I was buff, in a very feminine way, all lean and long and athletic, but I still did 500 sit-ups a day.
Now, I ride an exercise bike. I have a slight arhythmia and aerobic exercise seems to keep it at bay. While I ride, I also have the wondrous privilege of being read to, another of favourite things. Music breaks my cycling rhythm, so I’m a big audiobook fan. I get more daily exercise by walking pretty well everywhere, too, since I don’t drive.
What’s that got to do with ideas? Well, while I was cleaning the stove the other day, vigorously, just so you know, I had a really good think, and ironed out some story kinks that involved developing some premises into proper ideas.
When that was done, I went off to hoover three flights of stairs to see if lightning really can strike twice.
Here’s the thing, and we’re back to that old chestnut, Latin, again... People have known the value of a bit of hard physical work for a good couple of millennia.
Pliny put it like this: 
It is remarkable how ones wits are sharpened by physical exercise.
But I think the Cicero quote is probably my favourite: 
It is exercise alone that supports the spirits and keeps the mind in vigor.
Vigor... That’s what we want!


  1. A great idea to exercise at the same time as listening to audiobooks and thinking up ideas. At my local gym I often see students reading textbooks and revising. I'm too clumsy to prop the book up on the treadmill though.

    1. It effectively doubles my 'reading time', and I do love being read to. Because I exercise at home, I don't have to use earphones, and it's better than music, because I'm not fighting the rhythm all the time. I couldn't read and cycle, though.

  2. I hate exercise and sport. I love walking and dancing, though. Sadly, I get no opportunity to dance. Still, at the age of 47 – to quote Georges Guetary in 'An American in Paris' – I am now "old enough to know what to do with my young feelings." So, a few weeks ago, I started exercising half an hour every morning. Nothing strenuous – just stretching and some DIY Tai Chi. Well, it's making such a difference to my general flexibility, and my generally stiff sore muscles are feeling a lot better.

    1. I love the idea of Tai Chi, and a very elderly friend of mine looks fabulous on it, so I might just give that a try.

      As for dancing... There's always an opportunity to dance. I use tanning booths in the winter because I suffer with SAD, and I can do a remarkable amount of jiggling and bopping while I'm in there