I know what you mean.
Last year, my taekwondo instructor and I discussed his training for his upcoming test for his 7th Degree Black Belt. He mentioned his commitment to practicing his form, a daily exercise routine, and always looking toward the goal. Only recently before that conversation I had begun a new exercise regimen to help me improve my stamina, hopefully lose weight, and build muscle. He told me one morning he had awoken to rain and had considered not running. This notion was quickly drowned (no pun intended) as he knew if he didn’t do his run he might find excuses not to train in the future. If that happened, he might as well forget about testing. So he ran in the rain.
I had a similar story. I started in on this new exercise program, interspersing it with half hour runs. So Monday/Wednesday/Friday I would do the program, and Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday I would run. Sunday I’d rest. I tried to stay faithful to the routine and of course I failed. Other things got in my way. My schedule didn’t permit me to either run or other circumstances kept me from exercising. The similarity with my instructor’s story was I ran in the rain one morning while laundry was rolling around the machine. I didn’t care. I’ve also stayed dedicated to doing the best I can in my training.
I have tried to stay faithful to the program. As many experienced last summer, my part of the country suffered a drought and weeks with very high temperatures. I’m not about to go out and risk passing out by running. I’m dedicated, but not stupid. So I changed my regimen. I did successive days of the exercise routines which I enjoy as much as running. (Sometimes better since the exercise program only takes twenty minutes to complete).
When I started the exercises I would stay after taekwondo class with a friend who would assist me. More often than not I was exhausted afterward. So much so, I laid on the floor gasping for breath, sweat pouring out of me. Then I downloaded a program onto my laptop that acted as a timer. That way I didn’t need an assistant. I changed the time of day I did my exercises to the mornings. I would work all night, go home, change, go up to the club, do my routine, then head home to cool off and go to bed. That way, the body managed to get immediate downtime after exercising. It worked. I discovered I wasn’t as drained if I did the routine in the mornings before bed. Yes, I was tired and sweaty, but it was a good tired and a good sweaty, if you can understand.
What does all this exercise discussion have to do with writing? If I had a published book for every time I heard a reason why somebody didn’t write, I’d have a good library started. “I was tired all week.” “I was sick.” “My kids were sick.” “My car broke down.” “I couldn’t think of anything to write.”
Okay, okay, don’t start jumping all over me with the validity of these.
Truly, I do understand because I’m not perfect either. I, too, have reasons I don’t write. Some of them are valid. There are certain times when it’s not feasible or possible to write. The problem is when these reasons become excuses and when the excuses keep coming. No, I don’t have a wife or kids but my schedule is pretty hectic and busy. I find time to write. When times are tough, I MAKE time to write. I schedule it.
If you want to call yourself a writer and attend writers’ critique groups or writers’ conferences, you need to write. Not should write. NEED. Writers write. It’s in the rule book. It’s required that writers write something. Otherwise you can’t call yourself a writer. I know, this sounds obvious and it is, but still…
I’m typing this particular blog on a cool morning. I’ve already completed another blog for future posting. I didn’t have to do this one because I had reached my goal of finishing one blog per night. (Two reasons I’m focused on blogs. One, I’m writing these short pieces while trying to organize the next chapter of the next novel and two, I want to be ahead of the game instead of scrambling at the last minute.) I wanted to write another blog. I wanted to write. Something inside of me bugged me enough I put down the book I was reading and started organizing my thoughts on paper.
Just as I’ve read countless times that part of having a successful blog is to regularly post, to be a successful writer, you must regularly write. Set your own schedule. Can’t write every day? Fine. How about Monday/Wednesday/Friday? Only write a page each time? Fine. If it works for you, great. But if I only ran five minutes every other day, I wouldn’t accomplish much. Challenge yourself. I change up my running pattern and routine. Sometimes I’ll run for half an hour, and other times I’ll do some interval training. Is your schedule sporadic? Fine. But just as I discovered a better time to exercise, you need to find better times to write. Moreover, if you want to be a better writer, you need to MAKE time to write. Have a free hour one afternoon? Lock yourself away and tell the spouse and kids that unless the house is on fire or hordes of invading Visigoths are attacking, you will be incommunicado.
And if you feel a little tired afterward, then you can also be proud to have a reason for it.
By the way, my instructor passed his test.
If you’re interested in the exercise program I’m using, it’s at http://www.warriorxfit.com.