Skip to main content

Cardio for your Muse

The excuses we make about our writing are often reflected in excuses we make in other parts of our lives. Here's an example, "based on a true story" (or two).

Recently, I left work and headed for the gym. I really was not in the mood to go. It seemed pointless: I sweat inside the somewhat too hot gym just to leave and hit the too hot outside, with humidity, and get in my too hot car that cools off just in time for me to pull into my too hot garage.

Recently, I had decided that I was going to set aside an hour a day for my writing. The first day, I was pretty sure that Today wasn't the best day to start this endeavor. I was sure that the writer's block that plagued me the last time I sat down would just come to visit again, so what was the point?

Anyway, I was not in the mood to go to the gym. I got to the first light. Right was the way to the gym, left, home. I couldn't get over to the left. Cars in the way.

I started up my computer anyway, thinking that maybe I motivation would find me once I saw the beginnings of essays and notes. But maybe I would just check my email and FB first, instead. Read some blogs. Since I wasn't really in the mood to write. Hmmm. Internet is down...

OK. Well, I have my bag packed. I'll at least drive that direction. I could always pass it and hop on the freeway and go home that way.

Well, I'll just open what I worked on last time and read it over. I could always close it once the internet starts working again.

Here I am, I'm driving right by it. I have my bag. I'll just go in. I will get on a machine for 20 minutes. Just make an appearance. So what if it won't be a great workout. At least I 'll get my heart rate up a little bit.

So, the document is already open. I may as well write a few sentences down. I had been thinking about it. It will make me feel a little better the next time I feel like REALLY writing. I'll have a few ideas to work on, anyway.

Inside the locker room, I notice that I must have been half asleep when I packed my gym bag. An alert person would not have chosen the old purple-ish colored too short shorts (not obscene, just not very flattering) and the strange tight yellow tank with a slight stain just above my heart (I was sure I put that below the sink for my husband to use as a guitar polishing rag, and yet, here it is).

I do a quick scan at the writing I had done last time. Ugh. This is not the best way to start things. I didn't realize I left it in such a mess.

I'm standing there in my underwear deciding if this bad outfit is worth the 200 or so calories I might burn today. A woman in full make up and matching capri sweats and tank exits the locker room. I've come to early classes after rolling out of bed with the pillow imprint still on my face and wearing a Mighty Mouse T Shirt and those bike shorts that look like there's three layers of Depends stuck in them. Why should my vanity start today?

It doesn't matter. I just need to get the ideas down, move forward with this piece or it is never going to get done. Who cares if it isn't pretty right now?

Today I just need to keep up the calorie and fat burn burn, and that takes MOVING! I'll worry about what I look like later, when it actually matters. Silently thanking the cosmos for sending me my husband so I don't have to worry about strutting my stuff for all the young single dudes surely looking for a cougar, I grab my ipod and prance out in the crazy outfit.

So it's settled. I will get some distance covered on the page, and come back to sculpt and shape the story later. It's still the first draft, it's supposed to look a little, well, "off". Go!

I had great luck on this cybex machine a few years ago, when I would come during almost every lunch hour and do 50 minutes of the "hill interval" at a high level (I worked from home, so I didn't have to worry about offending anybody in the next cubicle after lunch). That, along with changing my eating habits and discovering running around the lake on the weekends helped me to lose about 10-15 pounds (I didn't own a scale--still don't-- so I can't be sure how much I lost. I just know I fit into my skinny jeans. My OLD skinny jeans.)

Writing's been a habit in the past.The words would flow, especially when I wasn't concerned with how they would come out on the page. I felt a sense of freedom with my writing, and it paid off when I started sending my work out. I have no idea how good the editors thought my story was, but I do know they decided to publish them, and that counted for something. I learned then that it could happen. As long as I showed up.

I start my usual routine. I hit Play on the ipod. It barks back at me to "find energy source". Dang. The ipod IS my energy source. Great. Just when I decided this workout was a good idea.

OK, back to the page. Looks like I left off looking for a better word for "excuse". For some reason, I had overused it. No problem, I'll just go to and--oh, wait, the internet is still down. Oh well, I really thought I would get something accomplished today.

Well, what am I going to do now? Leave? I'm here. ON THE WORKOUT MACHINE. DO SOMETHING! I do not need earbuds in my ears in order for my legs to move. Long before the ipod, long before the Walkman, people ran and lifted weights and even LISTENED TO MUSIC without these devices.

The Butt In The Chair Fairy lands on my shoulder. I can't squander this opportunity to write. I've been complaining about not having any time for my projects. Now, when the chance is right in front of me, I choose a different, lousy excuse-- or an inferior rationalization, or a crappy justification (see, I don't need for every writing project. Besides, to the left of my computer screen, a thesaurus. In book form. I LIKE books).

I start to move.

I start to write.

I sweat.

My mind starts dishing out the words, and new ideas make it to the page.

I find a groove.

I surprise myself with a new twist of phrase. I keep writing, enjoying the scenery evolving on my screen.

An hour later, I decide I've done enough--according to the LED screen, 600 calories burned. My body is ready to stretch out, relax. My mind seems clearer, less stressed.

I take a big stretch from my chair and see that an hour has passed. I scroll through what I've done. I'm happy with my accomplishment, my word count. Gone is the feeling that I wasted my creative time. Instead, I know I've taken another step toward my goal.

And to think that I almost didn't show up today. Instead of empty promises, I created performance, productivity...and peace.


  1. Yup. It's a great feeling when you look at what you've done. I've had the whole week to write and instead I've spent my time - I don't know what I've done with my time! But I spent ten minutes messing about with a blog which is how I came to find your blog. So procrastination does have it's advantages!


Post a Comment


Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Experience

The popularity of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books is beyond extraordinary. What started out as a multi- rejected book idea has turned into a multi-million dollar book empire. More than 110 million Chicken Soup for the Soul books have been sold. Many of the books have been translated to 40 different languages. I'm proud that my personal essays have been included in some of these books, and I hope to continue being a Chicken Soup contributor.
My Story
I thought I would share a bit about being published in these collections. I'm very happy with my Chicken Soup experiences, and part of that may be that I went into it with little expectations at first. I started with them because I had a few stories that seemed to fit what they were looking for, and I thought I had nothing to lose. Unlike some of the other markets and contests I was looking at, submitting to Chicken Soup could be done at no cost to me, and I didn't even need to worry about a postage stamp, because they had a…

All the Right Ingredients to Writing Advice

Last time, I talked about people in our lives that are pretty sure they know how to be successful writers, because they spent much of their time reading. Sometimes their advice can be a blessing, sometimes just the opposite. It is the same with the plethora of advice available from other writers. Have you checked out almost every book about the writing process from your local library at one time or another? Are your shelves lined with your own copies of "the-perfect-writing-advice-that-will-get-me-published-once-and-for-all"? Are you a member of multiple online writing communities? Do you hold your breath just a little bit when waiting from the critique from that "certain someone" in your writing group?

Yeah. Me too. And I don't think that gaining knowledge is a bad thing. We just have to be careful.

Don't Let Too Many Cooks Create a Recipe for Disaster
I love great food, I savor the tastes and textures of all kinds of cuisine; but unless I have specific, de…

Why Ghostwriting? Guest Post by Kelly James-Enger

Is it Time to Disappear?  Why I Became a Ghost--and Why you Should, Too
I never intended to become a ghostwriter. After all, why would I spend months of my life toiling away on someone else’s book? No thanks. I only wanted to write my own books, and that’s what I did.
I soon found, however, that the life of a book author wasn’t quite what I’d envisioned. I was working long hours, yet making less money than I had before, when I wrote only articles. The reason was simple—the time I spent promoting my books left me less time to write articles and other books, which cut into my income.
            Fortunately for me, I was approached by a nutrition expert about coauthoring her book. I found I enjoyed collaborating with her, but the real payoff came when we finished the manuscript. As the author, she now had to start promoting it—but I was all done!
That was enough for me. I decided to pursue coauthoring and ghostwriting, and “my” next book was ghostwritten for a client. (Typically a “coau…