Tag Archives: exercise

Push and Shove

Reminder to self and followers: There is such a thing as pushing too hard. Stop doing it. You’re going to effing hurt yourself.

Sometimes, all it really takes is time off. Though you may not want to let your fingers rest on the keys or put the pen or pencil away, or even tuck the sneakers and exercise bag away, it is, at some point, going to be best that you do.

Relax.

As my own experience has taught me, shaped by perfectionism, completionism, and competitive spirits, as well as a fresh and lively fear of failure, you can go too far. You get sick or your head doesn’t work as well, creativity is down, but when you have a streak staring you down that you haven’t broken, and a chance to keep it going, you can become a slave to regulation and forget that you’re human. That you need time off sometimes to recoup and get better.

The story can wait. The words will come. Do not force it. The road is always going to be there, the gym, the laptop, the journal. The only person you are disappointing by not doing it that day because you know you can’t, is yourself.

When I was younger, on a swim team and at conferences, a popular phrase I’d hear is, “Pain is weakness leaving the body.” I used to be kind of gray on how I felt about it, but recently, a friend has shown me that it’s the devil. It’s a clever way to force you past your limits and get you injured. The same can hold true for your writing, absolutely, but in different ways.

Stick with me…

On paper somewhere, post it notes or a notepad on your computer, an idea is sitting there waiting to be had, and you love it, you fell in love, which is why you had to write it down. Except, right now, you can’t get motivated, but you told yourself you’d do it, so you start…

Stop. It’s going to feel strained, your writing, your language is going to look like it’s not all there, like your heart isn’t totally in it, and it’s not, is it? When you throw yourself into a pit that you don’t have the strength to climb out of, you trap yourself.

And the hardest thing I’ve had to teach myself is that it’s okay to fail. That it’s okay to stop for the day and let it slide. Don’t let it become habit, but let yourself move on to something else, and come back when your heart reaches for it. Like I’ve said in The Fires of Passion Part 1, and Part 2, if your heart is in it, it’ll be easier, you’ll know what turns and hooks you want to put in, you’ll dig in deeper and put your all in it.

I had a huge lesson smack me in the face about the time that I started this blog. That failure is a part of life and I need to stop running myself through when something doesn’t live up to my expectations. Or it doesn’t exceed expectations, or something disappoints me, or I don’t do well at all. To step back and say, okay, I’m okay with this.

I have gotten better, but Rome wasn’t built in a day and I have a long way to go. When you can see what you have or haven’t done in hard numbers, it becomes more difficult to give yourself a pass. You hold yourself accountable, you hold more against yourself, and you simply don’t let yourself off easy. It’s harder to relax.

Completion is most difficult because you see that you haven’t done something and you force yourself to do it all. I once did exercise on a day I knew was not good for it because I had taken rest days through the week already, and made myself sick for the majority of the day. April Camp Nano was struggled through and I forced myself to finish a chapter and put it in the book when I absolutely hated what I came up with.

Then you have the inspirational crap you see all day, on Facebook, on Tumblr. I personally see a lot of, “Suck it up and keep going,” not verbatim, but to that effect, and I’ve gotten to a point where it pushes me to get off my ass.

It is okay to stop. It is okay, natural, human nature, to feel frustrated and stuck, because it happens, but you know, at least you should, that it will not always be like that. Sometimes, you’re just not going to be able to write every single day, your head won’t be in it, you’ll have decreased motivation. It will happen, and it is okay.

I guess in a lot of ways this is a reminder to myself. Another step forward in seeing what I’ve been doing to myself and forcing myself, in better ways, to relax. To breathe, and to see that I’m human and sometimes, I can’t always do everything.

Progress is gradual, and slow. If running and writing have taught me anything, that would be it. You’re going to hate some things you put out, but someone else might love it. So write on, or feel free to stop. Pause. Recuperate. Breathe. Pushing yourself isn’t always going to be best or wisest. You know yourself and your body and your limits and your brain best, you make the rules, but don’t cut yourself short when you know you can do more, when you’re capable.

My favorite piece of advice I’ve had to myself is that, hard work looks ugly. It’s not all smiling models, it’s gritted teeth and tongues sticking out in thought, it’s hunched over the keyboard and hair a mess. It’s natural and normal and life. Don’t let the pictures fool you. Sweat. Pour your soul in. Let it out, unleash, and without hesitation.

Just be careful of overdoing it. It’s possible.

The Novice Wordsmith

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Preparation

The last two months before November are known as “crunch time” for me, and for Friend, for National Novel Writing Month, and trying to figure out just what we want to write. Dedicating 30 days and as far over 50,000 words as we can manage isn’t so tough when we can find an idea we love.

Unfortunately, this year’s decision is a lot harder than it was last year, which took me all of a day to figure out before I started a three-four month process on outlining and working out other little details that would shape the novel. So now, after having one NaNo success under my belt, I have other little ideas that are waiting for me to write them out, and I’m not sure which one I want to go with.

Friend doesn’t have too much preparation that he does in comparison. We flesh out ideas and brainstorm and figure some things out, but for the most part, everything remains in his head until November, and then it all gets let loose. I envy that, to a point, but I’m very much a planner in my own right.

I have to know what I’m going to write a little less than I did last year. The year before was my first  year committing, and I didn’t make it. After making it, I have an idea of what to do and expect of a successful month.

It reminds me of something he mentioned the other day. Someone he knows, knows someone who’s done NaNoWriMo for seven years, and what they loved most about it was that it’s practice, and it’s helping them get better, that they can see the progress they’re making.

That’s what I love about November, that at the core, it’s meant to help you, to throw you into thirty days of writing as much as possible and not let you come up for air until the first of December.

It equates to hard and heavy training: If you haven’t been writing all year round, having a full month of daily writing will shape your writing in ways you haven’t seen before. Just as well, if you don’t exercise much daily, and push yourself to do it for a full month, you will see physical results that haven’t happened to you before. 

The difference this time, for me, is that I’m writing daily, even just a little bit. As much as I can, a story, an excerpt, something. But I’m excited to see how this month will go.

I wanted to announce now, too, that I’ll be posting weekly motivation through October for it, in case it’s something you’re doing. I realize now that there are plenty of people who haven’t done it (I know a few authors who haven’t). So for that, I may as well just apologize for cluttering you’re reader if you’re not interested!

On the other hand, if you’re contemplating doing it for the first time this year, please give it a shot. 50,000 words sounds scary, but the real goal is to get you to write every day, and to commit, and to work on finishing something. It is to stoke your creativity. Don’t be intimidated, just go for it, that’s all it ever takes.

Do what you feel is best, anyway, whether for NaNo or just in general. For me, it’s mapping everything out so I know which way to go. For Friend, it’s jumping into it and letting the current take him through.

-The Novice Wordsmith