"Why I Run"
Jog Your Mind
By Allison Winn Scotch
Searching for the best way to start this essay, I went for a run. Not because I was trying to procrastinate (though I probably was), but because I figured it would spark my brain into action. Running rejuvenates not just my quads but also my creativity. It's in my sneakers that I often stumble, sometimes literally, upon good ideas -- how to iron out a spat with my husband, what to cook for a dinner party, or just the right plot twist for my novel.
Lest you think I'm one of those bouncy runner types who drop the mention of a marathon into brunch conversation, let me be clear: I didn't set foot in a pair of running shoes until my mid-twenties. I played tennis in high school, step aerobicized my way through college, and happily jumped on the stairclimber trend in the late '90s. And then, at 24, I went for my first jog on a whim after a nasty breakup. A few miles to clear my head turned into loops around Central Park, and I felt like myself again.
Running swept that ex out of my head, along with other garbage that was clogging my thought process. When I focused on the step, step, step of my foot strikes and the music on my iPod, inspired stories found their way into my mind, sentences echoed in my brain, characters' voices became crisp and clear. Pounding the pavement in my neighborhood, I would get in touch with my characters in ways that sitting in front of a computer screen simply hadn't allowed.
It was on one of these jogs on a gorgeous spring afternoon, Kelly Clarkson blasting in my earphones, that I conceived the story for Time of My Life, the book that went on to be the breakout of my career. My mind went into that runner's trance; my pulse was a metronome in time with my footsteps as the bright blossoms whizzed by. And then, bam, there it was: the idea, the characters, the voice I needed. I sprinted home, banged out the first 15 pages, and a book was born. I had found my muse.
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