WFMAD Day 17 – Rocky writing

Not writing on a rocky shore.

Or rocky writing that is the despair of editors, or drives you to a vat of Rocky Road ice cream.

I’m thinking about my favorite Rocky. This guy.

I’m thinking of him a lot these days because I’ve stepped up my training. I’m now running three days a week and lifting weights three days a week and taking a ginormous nap on the seventh day. I’m hoping to squeeze in a couple half marathons this fall. When I get back from the book tour, the Big Countdown begins: I’m going to try to run in the 2011 Marine Corps Marathon.

What does this have to do with writing?


Our bodies were designed to move. A lot. They were not designed to sit in a chair for hours on end, particularly if the chair is a short trip from the refrigerator.

Many, many, many writers run. I am one of them. I am probably the slowest one, an accomplishment of which I am incredibly proud. (The race is not always to the swift you know.) My running feeds my writing which feeds my running which feeds…. you get the point.

If running does not sound like fun, you can swim or bike. Or walk. Dickens did. It sure worked for him. Exercise improves your ability to think clearly, learn, and remember, it combats stress, lessens depression. It won’t write the books for you, but I think it makes the writing easier and more fun.

We’ll close with a montage of Rocky Balboa’s training from the first Rocky movie. (Every time I run in Philadelphia, I make a point of running up those steps.)



“I belong to the Muse and She belongs to me.” singer Abby Lincoln in a 1993 interview

Set… shut everything off and go for a walk or run. Then you can write.

Today’s prompt: We often think of what our characters are capable of doing, instead of figuring out what they cannot do. Brainstorm a physical limitation for your character. It could be as simple as not being able to stand on one leg, or a limitation that has tremendous impact on her life. Or it could be a temporary limitation that furthers the plot, like Bethany cutting her foot and needing to use crutches in Twisted. OR write about one of your limitations. When did it start? How does it play out in unseen ways? Will it ever change? Do you want it to?


9 Replies to “WFMAD Day 17 – Rocky writing”

  1. My character has two broken legs and uses two canes to get around. The limitations are he can’t stand on his two legs yet and has to depend on his wife to do his job. It played out in an unforseeable way. The character becomes pyschologically crippled because he can’t accept help from his wife that he sees as the weaker of the two. Things change for him when he sees his wife grab a rifle and kill a bobcat on their front porch.

    This prompt showed me there is more than one perspective to look at in a situation when a character loses control over their bodies. Fun writing time.

  2. I love Rocky. I also love Rambo.

    I’ve never really had a character with serious physical limitation, other than the limitation of not wanting to do anything.

    But today I was in the mood to write something funny. Or funny at least to me. So I decided to hold off on the prompt today and pull up an old story i had worked on many moons ago.

    Have fun writing everyone.

  3. We used to do parts of the Rocky run in high school. The part of that video from 0:34 – 0:43 where Rocky’s running along the river? We ran that daily. And jogging up the art museum steps was a lot of fun. 🙂

    You’re running a full marathon? That’s so exciting! Best of luck!!

  4. I’m a big fan of (very moderate) exercise myself. I find it incredibly boring, though, and can’t read while I use my gazelle. I used to sing (which I love to do and it increases my cardio workout) but then I started popping one of my favorite movies in. (Some have been musicals, so I get the singing/increased cardio, too). Certainly makes it more enjoyable.

    I’ve kept up with the writing every day but the last two days have been grueling and uninspired. Today’s prompt is interesting because the main character in my YA novel has a chronic illness that causes a significant physical limitation and the book is largely about her coming to terms with that. I’d certainly be interested in hearing other writers’ experience with the prompt. Please share, people!

  5. I’m working on bits and pieces of a story that’s been bouncing around in my head for several months. Very small bits and pieces. I don’t have a name for my male lead yet, so everyone just calls him “Love Interest”.


  6. When you first recommended getting the body moving to get the brain moving, I obeyed! I’ve been “running” for nearly three weeks. So proud of that! Be warned–I am staking claim to your turtle trot status! I love the metaphors and lessons that running teaches me, especially as I take care not to become so zealous that I hurt myself.

    All good things take time, the best things take LOTS of time, and it’s okay to spend time learning well to do good things. See? Running and wRiting–the right and left shoe for momentum, velocity, power, and poignancy.

  7. I love the ‘exercise feeding the writing’ concept. I often get my best ideas while doing laps in the pool, when the workout is boring and my mind wanders.
    Yesterday I was so proud to have stuck to the writing every day goal. On my way to pick up my kids from camp in Maine we got a flat tire which needed replacing. While we waited one hour on the side of I95 for AAA I read, and when we got the tire shop I had two spare hours (no pun intended) to kill. I ate lunch, and I wrote–blessed laptop with at least one hour left of battery! Sort of kept me calm in spite of the time loss and the cost!

  8. I really liked this exercise because I learned that my character is a fighter. She may want to give up (and I would in her situation), but she didn’t. Putting both of her arms in casts left her challenged. Frustrated. Closer to her feelings. Nearer to the point of exploding.
    She fought back. Hard. Finding alternative ways to deal with her situation showed her resourcefulness. Her inner strength.
    It made me love her even more.

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