The Thirty Minute Blogger

Exploring Books and the Writer's Life, Faith and Works, Culture and Pop Culture, Space Science and Science Fiction, Technology and Nostalgia, Parenting and Childhood, Health: Physical and Emotional ... All Under the Iron Hands of the Clock and That 30 Minute Deadline

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Adventures in Fitness 8: One Guy's Attempt to Knock the Rust Off: Discipline Creep and Perseverance

I write and edit books ... lots of books. I've written countless papers over the years I went to seminary part time (just graduated in May and still celebrating). There is one nemesis all writers face every day. It is evil, insidious, ever lurking in the shadows, and ready to pounce at the least sign of weakness. This super foe has a name. It's name is ... procrastination! There is no greater destroyer of articles, vanquisher of books, executioner of would-be novels than the dread procrastination. What is a writer to do?

Much to my surprise, as a reformed couch potato type, one answer (I'm sure there are others) is to be found at the gym. The gym you say? Isn't that another place to procrastinate you ask with eyebrows arched? Possibly, I reply ... but, and it's a big but, there is a truth to be found there. The first ten minutes of the first workout of the day or evening (elliptical machine for me) is difficult to miserable. Your body whines at you constantly. It snivels about how hard the workout is, how various little bits and pieces ache and could be about to explode, it implies you might die if you don't stop soon. This goes on and on first those first long minutes. After that, something magical happens. Your body gives up the fight and starts enjoying itself. It relaxes into the pace of the workout and even picks it up a notch when you aren't looking. What was misery becomes bliss. And you remember that for the next workout ... and that makes it easier to soldier on through the fussing and the fuming.

And that's where the revelation came in ... somewhere in the midst of the sweaty routine after my body gave up the fight and started having fun. All that whining is exactly like an author's procrastination. The brain whines at you about how difficult the writing assignment will be, how unfair it is you have to do this instead of ... ANYTHING else, and it suggests that you might die the writer's death if you do it wrong (i.e. people will decide you can't write your way out of a wet paper bag ... why would you want to exactly ... and will never read you again). Then you get down to the actual writing and since you are doing what you love ... very soon you relax into it and the hours fly by. Knowing that the ten minutes of whining in the workout leads to bliss has helped me jump past the procrastination that can keep me from work and get straight down to the business at hand. It's discipline creep ... the exercise discipline is now shaping the writing discipline to help me defeat my most insidious foe.

Coupled directly to this is perseverance. Every time you get past that first few miserable minutes and succeed you are better armed for the next round. You have learned the drill and you muscle through. Further, you learn how to handle the feelings of physical distress (minor here ... I'm not talking about broken bone or impending heart attack pain here ... if you have that for heaven's sake stop now and see a doctor ... no I'm talking about the tightness in the chest and shortness of breath that comes from getting into the routine), slowing up to let your lungs catch up with you and your breathing steady itself. You soon learn it's all about adjusting the routine to continue the exercise. Soon you and your body learn how to communicate well with each other, understand that the feelings you get are manageable and totally normal, and you persevere. Here's another bit of knowledge that transfers into other fields as well.

So persevere and let the exercise discipline creep into other aspects of your life. Who knew there was so much to learn at the gym? Not me, that's for sure. But I'm learning.

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