Saturday, May 12, 2012

I'm Not a Writer (or a Runner)

(Don't worry, eventually this post discusses writing...)

Summer will be here before we know it (actually, in my part of the world, it’s already been in the 90s, so some could say it’s already here). With that in mind, and the fact that I’m dreading purchasing new shorts and summer clothes when there’s plenty of perfectly suitable outfits in my closet (they’re just a little tight), I signed up for my gym’s boot camp program.

The first day, there were about 90 or so enthusiastic participants, all ready to make a change. Some had been through the process before, some (like myself) were trying something new-- hoping not just for a change, but to “change things up.”

I’m assuming that most of the people were familiar with gym classes. The fact that we were trying out something called “R.I.P.P.E.D” didn’t seem to scare anybody too much (even after we woke up totally sore after the first day). We were one big group, all in the same boat; so if something was a little confusing, or we had trouble with some of the choreography, we weren’t alone. On Tuesdays, the class turns into groups hitting different stations. Again, in our smaller groups, we worked through the exercises, even if we had never seen a kettlebell or workout ball in our lives. These groups kept us motivated and moving.

I noticed a few grumbles, though, when the Thursday instructor came to visit, to help us prepare for his program. “Drink plenty of water. Bring sunscreen. Maybe a hat,” he said, “We are going to be running. Outside.”

Remember that 90 degree weather I was talking about?

But that wasn’t the  problem. (Well, ok, that wasn’t the WHOLE problem.)

“I’m not a runner.” I heard this over and over. And not just in my own head. Other people were saying it, too.

Here’s the thing. We joined to change things up. To get healthy. To achieve a goal. So, whether we defined ourselves as “runners” or not, we would have to run to get the benefits of this boot camp.

Still with me? Even though this seems to have nothing to do with writing? Great! I'm getting to my writing lesson from this experience:

I keep hearing, over and over (and not just in my own head): “I’m not a writer.”

I hear it from people who want to share their life stories. I hear it from business people afraid to start a blog or facebook page. I even hear it from people after I enjoy a piece of their writing.

The other day in boot camp, with the echoes of “I’m not a runner” still bouncing around in my brain, I ran 3 miles. THREE MILES!

It wasn’t fast.
It certainly wasn’t pretty.
But I made it to the finish line.
With my sweaty, red face I weaved through the crowd of runners who had already made it back. I grabbed my water.
If I’m not a runner, why do I feel like I just ran? If I’m not a runner, how did I make it up that road and back?
I had no choice but to change my thinking. I am a runner, after all.

Just because I say I’m a runner doesn’t mean I am ready for the Olympics.

Don’t be afraid to call yourself a writer. Even if you haven’t been published. Even if finding the words feels as futile as discovering that one needle in a field of haystacks. And especially don't be afraid if you think what you’ve written is total crap (that’s just called a draft!).

Being a writer starts with just a glimmer of an idea. If you want to combine those glimmers and make something that shines, you have to get out of your own way. You have a goal. Maybe it’s a memoir, a novel, a short story, a blog post-- to get there, you have to set aside the idea that you are not a writer, and write anyway.

I hope when you reach that first landmark, you can look back at where you’ve been and comfortably declare: I am a writer, after all.

Happy Writing!

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