Monday, July 19, 2010

Writing and Medieval Torture

I am not athletically inclined. Like, at all. I came into this world with no coordination to speak of. I've never been able to jump rope or do a single cartwheel. Those innocent but mandatory schoolyard four-square tournaments could have been the genesis of my Fangxiety Gnome. Nevertheless, I like to exercise. Until recently, I only did so in my basement, where no one could see me flailing around like a beached octopus.

About a month ago, my mom and I started working with a personal trainer. We spend three hours a week feeling winded, uncomfortable, and/or in pain. Our medieval torture sessions might start with jumping on the BOSU ball like a life-size game of whack-a-mole (longest ninety seconds of my life, I swear). Then it's on to a core workout where we learn to concentrate on getting our shoulder blades up off the floor and maintaining absolute control over all intestinal functions at the same time. Finally, we shred our arm muscles via weight sets while our sadisti - patient and helpful trainer-person looks on.

Here's something I've learned about weight lifting: at some point, your body is going to stage a revolt. It might be at rep 12, it might not be until 25. But your muscles will go on strike. When this happens, it helps to take a break. A short one, mind, because the longer you wait in between, the harder it is to get started again.

Writing is like this. The sentences I drag out of my brain onto the computer screen often feel painfully awkward and uncoordinated at first. And at some point, your story, your muse, whatever you want to call it, is going to stage a revolt against you. When it does, take a short break to recharge your muscles. Then keep writing.

I recommend having a buddy, or two, or more. Fortunately, my workout buddy is as unathletic as I am (sorry, Mom). She's not afraid to laugh when I slide off the giant bouncy ball in the middle of doing crunches. My fellow Gnome Slayers listen to me whenever I'm frustrated about my writing. They're not afraid to tell me when I've got something wrong. (Janiel: "Too many 'you's' in your medieval torture post, Maegan").

Here's the great thing about writing and working out: if you're consistent, you get better. Whenever I master one set of weights, Patient and Helpful Trainer-Person will bump me up to the next level. It doesn't get easier, but I get stronger. Still can't jump rope, though. Some things are beyond help.


sleye1 said...

So, so true. Why does important stuff have to hurt? If it hurt to eat donuts or to spend time on Facebook, wouldn't that be a better use of pain?

Maegan Langer said...

I hadn't thought of it that way, but you're right. Anything worth anything is worth work. And a little pain.