There have been times in my life when I’ve been writing, and there have been times in my life when I have not. Generally, I have been happier when I’ve been writing. Sometimes, it goes well. Sometimes, it doesn’t. The important things is that I show up and do the work. It’s one of the great things about this challenge, not only do you commit to writing everyday for a month–an entirely doable goal–but you know there is a reasonable chance that someone else might read it.
The first few days of the SoL Challenge were like trying to get back to regular exercise after not doing it for months,. I couldn’t believe how rusty I’d become. It didn’t feel good. I was disappointed in the results. I thought wistfully about how strong I used to be, and figured that my best days were behind me.
I was going to say that the big difference is that after a few weeks of working out, I never lose track of time and realize I’ve been exercising for hours. That is completely untrue.
Just one year ago, lockdown started and the university I live near sent most of its students home. I used it as my own private park, exploring the empty campus on foot. I walked almost everyday, often for two or three hours hours. I started picking up speed and choosing more hills.
I would often lose track of time. I would rarely stick to the route I thought I would follow. Sometimes, I got lost. Sometimes, I’d spend so much time walking, that I’d neglect other aspects of my life. You can replace “walking” with “writing” and that’s a reasonably good description of my behavior as a Slicer. Enthusiastic but undisciplined.
By May of 2020, my ankles had started complaining when I first went out. I did some stretching and strengthening exercises, and I noticed they didn’t hurt as much after the first half hour of walking or or so. I figured I was fine. I was not fine.
One hot July day I had been walking for about an hour. Instead of getting better, my ankles were feeling worse. Then a lot worse. I decided I should head home immediately. I had walked about about ten minutes in the direction of home, and then the pain became excruciating. I tried modifying my steps in a variety of ways to make walking less painful, and then I texted Ed, who came and picked me up.
The doctor said that normally she’d want me to go to physical therapy, but due to the pandemic I should just do the exercises at home. She I needed to stay off my feet as much as possible for at least a month. She said when I started walking again, I needed to be systematic about it, and increase my mileage gradually. It’s difficult for me to be systematic and gradual with things I like to do.
In terms of writing, I have written too many words and spent hours on tangents so many times this month. Before this month, I thought I was bad about finding time to write, but I think I’ve often been afraid to start writing on any given day because it is so hard for me to stop.
I’m not sure what the answer is. I could try outlining and sticking to the outline. Just setting a timer might be more productive.
I’m a little bit frustrated because for the first part of my life, most of the writing I did was returned with red ink in the margins: “Provide examples,” “Needs more description,” Not enough detail” etc. At this point in my life I have detail for days, and it’s too much.
I am exhausted from staying up writing until 3:00 on Saturday night. Still. I’m not a kid anymore. I don’t want to never write, but I have to impose some limits on it. As with exercise, I have to incorporate it in my life in a sustainable way.