Exercise for writers


The exercises suitable for men of letters are such as put the whole body in motion; these are, tennis, the shuttlecock, billiards, the mall, hunting, skittles, bowling, and even chuck; but these are unfortunately in such discredit in many parts, that persons who are tender of their good name will almost be ashamed to be seen playing them, and will not be convinced that the neglect of these useful amusements, is one of the principal causes contributing to the increase of the disorders.

There don’t seem to be too many writers these days who are ‘tender of  their good name,’ and even fewer who are given to playing shuttlecock or skittles. Perhaps W.B. Yeats was on to something when he took up fencing, as Ezra Pound told us in our last post.

An essay on the diseases incident to literary and sedimentary persons with proper rules for preventing their fatal consequences, and instructions for the Cure. By S.A. Tissot M.D. London, 1769

Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Battledore-and-shuttlecock.jpg

9 thoughts on “Exercise for writers

  1. I am not sure what the author above means by “the mall” as a form of exercise, but it’s one I enjoy. Just was there this afternoon; not finding anything alas, but definitely walked at least a half-mile. Seems to me that I’ve read recently that walking boosts creativity by some spectacular amount . . . and if one can combine it with shopping, so much the better.

    1. Yes, I was baffled by that too. I somehow don’t think he had your sort of mall in mind. And many writers, and musicians, are great walkers and compose as they walk, but I dont think it works if you’re also darting in and out of shops or even just engaging in “leche vitrine” as the French say. We were just talking about that over lunch today.

      1. One website translates that [https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/l%C3%A8che-vitrine] as literally “window-licking,” and another [http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/translate/french-english/l%C3%A8che-vitrines] quite dully, as “window-shopping.” You are right, both darting in and out or window shopping is likely to distract from composing deathless sentences.

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