Tuesday, 8 November 2016

How Writing Is Like Running

Whoops, looks like October came and went.  This year feels like a ride on a dodgy fairground waltzer, where the man in the flammable trackie bottoms and a fag sticking out of his mouth flings you madly in circles, making you too cock eyed to see anything passing at normal speed.  Stop 2016, I want to get off!  I've just been sick on my shoes!

I can't blame 2016 for everything, though.  Main reason I've missed an entire month's worth of blogging opportunities (how was your Halloween by the way?  Well done for surviving the creepy clown epidemic if you're still around to read this), is that I got into a familiar cycle of thinking "must write more...must write more...", which, I should know by now only serves to make me freeze up and view my keyboard as a tray of tiny mines that might explode at my touch, and I need my fingers for scrolling through Facebook 999,991,003 times a day.

It's not been a totally unproductive month, though.  I've learned lately that working out is my favourite hour of the day.  It's time that's 100% mine and no matter how useless, lazy or incompetent I'm feeling before I go into it, I always come out thinking "I CAN LIFT A FUCKING BUS!! COME AT ME BRO!!"...despite being logically aware that there might be slight discrepancy between the biggish kettle bell and an actual bus.  

I never used to feel like this when I started - especially when I took up running.  I went into most activities involving getting my trainers on with trepidation and it was anyone's bet whether I'd finish up feeling invincible or berating myself for a whole weekend for being overtaken that one time by that pensioner rollin' along the seafront in their pimped out mobility scooter. Now, I'm a lot more forgiving.  I (mostly) see exercise as a cumulative thing to be enjoyed for its challenges, and feel grateful to be allowed a whole hour or so just for my lycra-legged self to get stuck into just moving for fun.  Is marvellous!

I feel the same way about writing now as I used to about running.  I love the activity, but I beat myself over the head with self criticism before I even put pen to paper.  So, in order to get me writing something other than "why have I stopped writing?  What can I do to make myself write more? Why isn't what I write better? Blah blah narcissistic whining, first world problems etc etc" in my trusty notebook (*cough* diary *cough*), I thought I'd compile a list of ways that writing is essentially the same thing as running. *Flexes fingers*


1.a For not doing it.  When I started running, I was super self conscious about the label.  I wanted to be a runner.  And in order to be a runner, I needed to run lots, constantly and fast.  And if what I was doing didn't meet up to any of those things, I was a wannabe runner.  A shambler at best.  As a writer, I must churn out a bazillion quality words a day.  On top of the blogging, I must start and actually finish a fully drafted novel in order to be able to bestow the title upon myself...even though after getting 2 chapters in on my projects, I inevitably realise that I don't have the inclination to do it really..Or I secretly do, but think that what I've made so far isn't good enough to carry on with.  Then I kick myself in the pants for not having enough of a concentration span to achieve something printable.
 1.b For doing it
"OMG, how dare you be running/writing right now?  That hour could be used for cleaning (which often makes you want to eat a tea towel out of boredom), entertaining others (because they're not capable of doing it themselves, or...?) or organising the next 12 months of your life in meticulous list-y detail.  Oh, you want a break from the lists and the over thinking in order to keep yourself a sane member of society?  Well that's just selfish!"

Okay, so this is something I'm still guilty of.  I may overcompensate after a 3 mile bimble by "refuelling" with an entire battenburg and several slices of cheese, despite the fact that I've grown to learn that getting to move in an otherwise sedentary, office-based lifestyle is a reward in itself (endorphins are REAL, people, I've FELT them, I swear!), but, to be fair, I probably would have stuffed the marzipanny goodness down my cake hole even if I'd sat around all day long, sooo...it's okay?  

I may reward myself for stringing more than a few sentences together by binge watching Netflix and telling myself that it's actually creative research.  Ooh!  Ooh! Speaking of, has anyone seen Black Mirror?  I'm on series 2 and I've never been so depressed/inspired/amused/terrified by a TV show in my life.  Hoo blimey!  

What were we talking about again?

 When I started running, my house was actually clean.  I mean, not super clean or anything because, well...it's me doing it, but my organised chaos was lots more organised than normal.  I could locate a matching pair of socks in under two minutes and only lost my keys once a day as opposed to every time I put them "somewhere safe."  How do I know I'm having a little tailspin about how much I write in my spare time?  The other day, I polished my hoover.  We're at crisis point, people.

I'll never be totally free from the desire to compare my performance in most areas of life with the people who do it better, but I'm learning to compare myself to the only person worth doing it with - myself.  Sounds cheesy, but it's pretty euphoric when you huff your way through a little 3 miler and then it dawns on you that you just referred to 3 miles as "little" when 3 minutes used to be an achievement in itself.  I haven't quite got there with writing yet, but I feel optimistic that I will learn sometime soon that I can't be Margaret Atwood because she's already been taken.  

Pretty sure I only ever do anything in life for this reason.  My life is a constant pursuit of smugness.   I'm not proud of it, but it's the truth.


"I ran a distance that most people would only go in a CAR!"

"I wrote a WHOLE blog post and put it on the Internet for EVERYONE to see!  Am so brave and creative.   Oh, God, what if there is a typo?  What if I used "to" or "two" instead of "too"? What if someone sees it and then tries to talk to me about it in real life?  Should I take it down?  But if I take it down, then it will look like I haven't posted for ages and it's already been a month. Ohgodohgodohgod!"

Hmm.  Maybe need to work on my post writing smugness.  In the meantime, am off for a run.


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