This weekend I had a bout of writer’s block. I have taken up the glorious endeavor of writing a novel and there are some days when I am just spent. It isn’t going to happen. I stare at the computer screen, notepad, and cup of coffee endlessly as my mind wanders to grocery lists, to-do lists, and what I should wear to the movies tonight.
A friend of mine just gave me a book with a lovely piece of advice in it about what to do when writer’s block hits. I should put a little frame sans photograph on my desk. Nothing grand, just a one-inch frame. It is there to remind me that all I need to complete is one-inch worth of writing. A few sentences or a description of a character. Maybe the way the sky looked that day or a couple lines of dialogue. Whatever it is, it’s not much, it’s not daunting, and it is entirely doable.
This got me thinking about the gym and exercise. Unfortunately so many people have the same writer’s block about fitness that I have with my novel. You buy the Nike shoes and the I-pod and you join a gym and you want it, you really want it. You want the end result. You want the hot body, increased flexibility, stronger arms, no more back pain, knees that don’t give, size whatever jeans, clearer skin, increased energy—you want what it says on the tin. If you do this, you will receive all these benefits. That’s what the magazine said!
So why then are we so afraid to go? Why is it so ridiculously hard to get to the gym? Why is it so hard to sit down and write? What makes me choose emails to friends I haven’t written to in years or cleaning out my jewelry box or reorganizing the linen cupboard? What makes us purposely forget our gym bags on the way to work? What makes us just have too much to do?
I think it’s the dauntingness of it all, the idea that we have to achieve everything today! I will lose ten pounds today! I will lower my blood pressure today! I will run a marathon today!
Firstly, you don’t need to climb Everest today, but just getting into the gym will make you healthier today!
Think of the gym like my little picture frame. All you need to do is get there. Walk through the doors and step on the elliptical machine. Just do five minutes. If that’s all you can do, then get off it and get back to work/home/school and know that you are healthier.
You don’t need to look at the end result. This isn’t about the day when you have achieved everything you’ve dreamt of. This is about living in the now and doing what you can right now. It’s no big deal, it’s just going to the gym or going for a walk or a class or whatever you do for your workout. It’s easy peasy. Tell yourself it’s that easy. It’s just a few inches or a handful of minutes.
Maybe using something like my picture frame will help you. How about a bottle of water? On days when it’s just not happening, bring a bottle of water with you to the gym and drink it while you exercise. When it’s finished, you are too. You are obviously welcome to refill it and stay longer, but maybe that’s all you can do today.
Make yourself a few mixes on I-tunes. Make a couple five-minute mixes and a ten-, fifteen-, twenty-, and thirty-minute mix. When you go to the gym, start with what you can handle on that particular day. Maybe it’s just a ten-minute day; that’s cool because you have a mix for that. Maybe that was enough and if it was, congratulations for making it on a day when you might have otherwise flaked. Not done yet? Listen to the five-minute one. Ooh, want some more? Well great, because you have a couple more five-minute ones.
When the alarm clock goes off and you just can’t get out of bed, when the day is just rubbish and you have a pile of work falling out of your in box, when you feel drained and un-energetic, when everything in your life is pulling you away from health, just remember the picture frame. It’s just one inch.