Tag Archives: dreams

Compression Calf Guards and Performance

I know the title is a little odd, but stick with me on this one.

I’ve been considering this post since I got my compression calf guards early this month. The reason being for that is mostly because I try constantly to make links between running and writing. They’re so similar to me, one because they’re both such great passions of mine and two because they seem so obvious (probably because I work through them both so often).

Out on a run (unsurprising) today, I thought about it again. I ditched the guards because it was short and I had very little desire for big effort. Today it was running to run and help boost how I’d been feeling all day, and putting on the guards is like shoving my legs in tight clothing that I desperately want to wear.

After three years, I’m finally making bigger improvements in my endurance, and that’s in thanks to the guards, because they help block out the pain and make it much easier for me to push without worrying about splints or aches. I’m able to focus on speed and distance instead of my condition and forget everything but my feet on the pavement and my swift movement down the road or up the hill.

Every thing is different. Every skill and talent, every hobby you pick up or class you look into, it’s all got fundamental difference, but in essence, some of it can come to be very similar. What’s similar is the broader parts, like getting ‘gear’ to help you improve.

Which does work. Some things will help your performance in a lot of ways, but another thing I realized in the past few weeks of thinking about this topic was that, really, there is no “compression sleeve” equivalent to writing.

A lot of the time, the only things that help you improve in writing are location, what you surround yourself with visually and audibly, and the kind of inspiration you seek out. It’s about the journals you fill and the programs you use and the music you do or don’t listen to. The other writers you read, the books you immerse yourself in, the worlds you dive into day after day, hour after hour, because you cannot get enough and you don’t want to.

It’s organization or lack thereof. It’s in your head and your hands and less about bells and whistles than it is about expanding on the basics.

All of them will always have one very central thing in common, though, and that is the love, dedication and effort you put in to that work, to get better, to see yourself achieve what you know you’re capable of, to reach your dreams and to be more and more each time.

Some hobbies can take more money to help you get better, others only need you to see things differently. There are no limits, only what you put in front of yourself.

Mental blocks are the worst, and some of the hardest things I’ve ever had to overcome. There’s still one street I run down that I can do easily one way fully, but coming back up it is the worst task in the world because of how I visualized it when I was still a beginner.

Today had been a big eye-opener in this case because, without the sleeves, I nearly ran the entire length of my route without stopping, which I haven’t ever done before, though I’ve been getting closer lately.

We remember where we’ve had a tough time before and it sticks with us. The best way to break through is to go a different route completely. Freshen, liven, and see what you can achieve when your head doesn’t think that you’re doing the same thing. Do something new, and throw in something positive about it, and see how far it takes you.

This goes for everything. If you’re having a hard time with a chapter or story or trying to get something out specifically, you will remember how hard it was before. Changing tone or perspective can make a world of difference.

I’m still trying to tackle that street every chance I get, to make it through as far and as fast as possible, because maybe then, I can overwrite the negativity I wrote in so early.

What I see a lot of when it comes to mentality and running and writing is that it’s all in what you say to yourself. Can you see that you can do it, or are you telling yourself that it’s impossible? Do you know that you have it in yourself, or are you making sure you don’t? It’s easy to short yourself, but look for the more optimistic side of things, even if you don’t believe it at first.

For so long, I wasn’t sure that I could even do much of anything with my writing. After getting a hard conversation out of Friend about my writing and the habits I had with it, I was resigned either to shrug off the idea of writing as a career choice or taking it head on and trying everything I could to make it.

A year later, I sat back with Friend at my side in a resort and was on my way to a journey to 100k words in a month, after writing almost daily for four months, and making so many stories I was immensely proud of at that point.

Getting a little more off topic, I had another friend who told me she thought that achieving her dreams was a stupid ideology and that it’s impossible. Maybe it’s my own personal experience that leads me to believe that you can with hard work and dedication. Maybe I’m naive and haven’t had enough negativity thrown into the mix to keep me down and out. I was convinced at one point, too, that I’d never find a job, and felt completely trapped, but that changed, too.

Perspective is everything, sometimes. Whether you need help from gear or programs, or just a fresh scenery, you won’t always be stuck.

– The Novice Wordsmith

Competition and Success

For the longest time, I remember being in limbo between being a great writer and being a writer who’s better than all of the others. Reading turns into a pissing match of how you could outperform someone, and how you could get the attention of an audience better than that author. Writing turns into a competition instead of a past time or something you want to do for a living, something you enjoy.

It seems like one of the most fundamental lessons, to see every other writer as a potential teacher instead of someone you’re in a race with. When you take the competition out, it changes completely. You’re more relaxed about your writing, you take it in stride, you bury yourself in it and you do what you feel comfortable with. You’re more able to find your style and run with it than trying to one-up someone else or make a “Style to Rule them All.”

A lot of it came from when I was younger, writing in school and others telling me how well I did. Swollen ego can do that to you, and being around people who have written for longer and can do it better than you is an extremely humbling experience if you have that problem.

I forget what really happened to make me stop and reconsider what I was doing, but I know it happened in the past couple of years. Probably, I’m willing to bet it came from a talk with Friend about writing style. An attack of feeling too self-conscious about how I was doing or not doing, and the all too famous, “but this person, got published, I bet I could do better!”

There are literally several dozen thousands of writers out there, if not millions. Both published authors and unpublished. There will be published authors you read and think your skill is better than theirs, and unpublished ones who baffle the hell out of you when you find out they’ve never been published. It is seriously such a mixed bag, but don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. Someone will find worth in your writing, if you want to get published. There is an audience out there.

It’s never about who you’re better than, but how you are, and how you do it.

Seeing others as someone to learn from opens new doors for you, to see what might work in your worlds or not, to test your own limits, to add to your vocabulary or your collection of ideas in some association. You go from bitter to supportive, wishing them the best in their endeavors instead of putting them down because you haven’t found your own success.

It’s so much easier for me to be happier for others, and that includes life outside of writing.

And so much nicer, not to get down about things. After coming to the realization that everything happens at different points in life for everyone, it became a lot easier for me to be happier. I know plenty of people think it’s a crock of shit to say that everything happens for a reason, but the phrase has given me a lot of peace of mind, and has made a lot easier to swallow in my life. Just because I’m not married or not popping out kiddos or traveling the world or working for a fortune 500 company or a world-renowned author by now, doesn’t mean I’m failing at life. It just means there are other things in my future.

Of course, it doesn’t mean sit around waiting for something to happen, it means: Make it happen, don’t let an inflated ego or a bruised one keep you down, go for it. Get up, dust yourself off, and keep going.

For those who think that you can’t make your dreams come true, maybe it doesn’t work that easy for you. At least, find something that does, and do it until you can’t stand it anymore.

– The Novice Wordsmith

Dare: Living Vicariously

Chances are good that if you’re reading this, you’ve had something you’ve wanted to do, but never got the chance. Maybe you wanted to grow up playing the violin or piano, or learning ballet or French at a young age. Or if you wanted to go to a certain university, live somewhere, travel for a while.

Take that, whatever you never got to experience, and put it into a character. Purposely live vicariously through another.

To some it may not be such a great thing, you’re deliberately putting in pieces of you into your character when you should be making them their own entity, giving them dimension and depth and dynamic on their own. Typically, these things are side ornaments, in a way. They are apart from what makes the character who they are, but they still have an impact.

Whatever extent you want to take it, go for it. Consider it, but you may not even have to.

-The Novice Wordsmith


Dream On

This morning, I woke up with some really vivid dreams still playing back in my head, most of which included travel. One included kittens, and snakes, then there was the Stanley Cup match dream, and ice cream.

When I was younger and hearing about Twilight, I got excited knowing that Stephenie Meyer created the books from a dream she had. It wasn’t something new to me, but seeing someone create from a little subconscious spark was a big exclamation point for me. Since I was younger, I was always a total goon for dreams, their meanings, and the research on them.

I found myself wanting of a dream that could do that, that felt so perfect for a story or a movie, and to let it take me on this huge ride of inspiration.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, it didn’t manage to happen while I was obsessed with the thought, but later, it did.

One thing I want to say about this is it’s how you perceive it, how you encounter that little crazy thing that happened in your dream. Is it enough to make something out of? Where does it make your mind wander, and how fast does it go?

For those of you who are apathetic about this topic, that’s fine, I recognized before I wrote this that it wouldn’t be for everyone. And rightly so, some people have very vivid, strange dreams, and others have more simple dreams that stick to normalcy and don’t make them look insane. I am not one of those people.

One dream, in fact, is up for debate on if I want to write it for NaNo. Sometimes your head just brings things together that are so strange, they work. With some minor tweaks, maybe, but they’re no less motivating.

I want to know what you think about this, what is your view on dreams helping the creative process? Do you do it, and if so, how often or infrequently? Are there any current stories that you’ve written that have come from your wild, or not so wild, subconscious?

All in all, I’m a fan of this kind of thing; sometimes my craziness just brings out something that I can’t let go. It’s a good source of creativity, in my opinion, because it’s a brain dump. You’re shaking out everything that you’ve had on your mind for the week, or for the day. When you shake loose papers, there’s bound to be something that makes you go, “Huh… That’s kinda cool.”

Another side to this is the dream sequences of characters, which can be much like our own, but also tend to waver on the premonition side of things. What’s the importance of dreams if there’s nothing that comes of it, right? It’s optional, like everything else, but in a way it’s a little thing that helps make the characters more real. I’m not saying you’d have to map out the entire dream, not unless you want to (refer to dreams being important, or going somewhere with the plot), but little mentions, maybe it disorients them or makes them go, “Uhm, what?”

It can also provide some comedic relief, or get them to briefly think about certain things, as well as putting them on the path of something else, just to get them off the trail of something they were close to solving.

Ultimately, it’s a distraction, but it can be a creative one. It’s up to you whether you let the unfettered subconscious have a say in what you write, the possibilities are endless.

-The Novice Wordsmith