Last October, I tried running on a treadmill at the gym for the first time. After two minutes of jogging at a moderate speed, I felt mere heartbeats away from collapse and certain death. I hadn’t run with any sort of consistency since I was a freshman in high school (which was a lot longer ago than I’d care to admit) and was forced to do so as part of Florida’s tortuous “Personal Fitness” regimen. But I was determined to try jogging because I know I need to lose weight and I need to improve the strength of my heart (physically, not metaphorically), and I knew that running was a great way to go about it.
Surprisingly enough, after running on the treadmill a couple of more times, I discovered that I actually liked running. I’ve never in my life been anything like athletic, so realizing I liked any sort of exercise, esepcially one that left me so tired and out-of-breath, came as a bit of a shock. But like it I did. (Ndever having been an athlete, I didn’t realize that one was supposed to be tired and out-of-breah when done exercising or one likely wasn’t doing it right.)
And so, except during some time in the winter when getting to the gym seemed near-impossible, I kept at it.
Today, a little over six months after barely being able to run two minutes, I ran two separate one-mile legs with only a four-minute walk in between. This was at a moderate speed, about five-and-a-half miles per hour, which comes out to a touch over eleven minutes per mile. I have a long way to go to reach my goal–I want to run in and complete a 5K road race in Providence this September–but it had been a long time since I felt the sort of sense of accomplishment flooding through me as I left the gym this morning.
Which brings me, as it seems most things do lately, back around to the topic of writing.
What my experiences on the treadmill have given me is solid empirical evidence (and hold on to your hats for this one, it’s a doozy) that the more you do something, the better you get at that thing. For the longest time, I told myself (and anyone who would listen) that I wanted to write–but I didn’t actually get around to doing the writing. How could I possibly get any better if I wasn’t working on it? My ego’s never been under-developed when it comes to my writing, but even I couldn’t have thought I was so ready, so talented, that I didn’t need to practice my craft.
Nope. The culprit of said hubris was simple laziness. I doubt that will come as any great news to any of you who know me.
Over the past three months or so, though, I’ve been working on my writing just about every day, at least a little bit. The three Geekz sites, Moviegeekz especially, helped force me to write frequently enough that I felt the skills I’d let erode begin to strengthen again. More importantly, I felt the confidence that had deteriorated come back, and that confidence might be an even more important component to any future success I might have than the skills are.
But after this morning, I now know that if there’s something I want to accomplish, I can do it. I don’t have any doubt anymore. I didn’t think I could push myself as far as I did this morning, but I did it–and I have a lot more left in me after that. It’s a matter of setting realistic goals and following through with the plans to reach them–and consistent, concentrated effort. If I can do all of those things–and I now know I can–there’s nothing I’m not going to be able to accomplish.
Part of the first exercise our writer’s group (which, incidentally, needs a spiffy name…something superheroic, I think. The Fictastic Four? Hmm, I think that’s a job for Timmy B or Brian) will have to do is to create a writing schedule. Tim knows the specifics, but I believe it’s setting up a minimum of five hours scheduled over seven days to be devoted to writing. Fair enough. Even just that five hours per week–and I honestly think I’ll end up writing more, as I still have my electronic empire to keep up with–will likely improve both my abilities and my confidence astronomically.
And if I can’t find five hours a week to give to my writing, there’s no way I can possibly think of ever making any sort of career out of it.
This will, hopefully, be the last post about writing for awhile–with any luck (and more than a little effort), you’ll soon start to see this place flush with posts featuring the first results of the writing exercises. Good times ahead!