Happy 2016! So, how are the New Year’s Resolutions coming along? I haven’t made any yet because I’ve been thinking about them…while I’m running. Of course! The thought that keeps returning to me is, “Do I want to make resolutions or break habits?” Maybe it all comes down to the same thing, but I’m going with ‘breaking habits’.
The brain – seat of all habits – both good and bad.
My running brain has gotten into a real comfort zone with my usual 3-mile run. Three miles is good for several reasons. 1. It’s exercise. Period. 2. It’s outdoors, and I believe in running outdoors whenever possible. 3. I could do the route in my sleep. 4. I can run 3 miles in about a half hour. I’m out, I’m in, I stretch, shower and dress and start the rest of my day. 5. It’s comfortable and familiar. But here is the dark side: My brain says, “3 1/2 miles today? Why? It will take longer. You’ll get tired. You may have to walk. You don’t have time because you have a lot of work to do afterwards.”
My writing brain has a dark side too. “Finish Valkyrie? Ha! Your antagonist isn’t bad enough. The conflict isn’t deep enough. You probably need more characters. And, oh, by the way, your plot line is all over the place.”
What to do?
Today I ran 3.5 miles and it really didn’t take that much longer. I knew I could do it, but I hadn’t, so I thought I’d better prove it to myself. The worst part was the side stitch I got in the last two tenths. The best part was knowing the stitch was the worst part. I’m going to run an additional 1/10 every time I run. However, my main focus isn’t the distance so much as shutting up my lazy brain. Speaking of my writing brain…
The only answer is to keep writing. To finish the story. What helps?
I belong to an email loop for writers where we set monthly word count goals and report our word count daily. I’m already over my stated goal. Writing this blog helps keep me honest. I’m critiquing a friend’s WIP which helps keep my editing skills sharp and reminds me I’m not alone.
Did you make resolutions? Are you breaking habits? How’s it going?
When I went looking for Sylvester Stallone’s comments after he won the 2015 Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor, I discovered he got some flak on social media for people he neglected to mention.
As of this writing, this news is so old it’s not even news anymore. This is a good thing, as far as I’m concerned, because I’m not interested in all of that. I’m interested in the last thing he said. Check it out here:
As a runner, my imaginary friends/characters frequently populate my mind whether I’m moving effortlessly or cranking out every step. Thank goodness. For it is often then that they tell me how to write them.
Timing is everything. My run today was more challenging because I decided to go 3.5 miles instead of my usual three. Guess which song came on during the last three or four tenths? “Gonna Fly Now” from the movie, “Rocky”. If you haven’t seen this movie, then you should. If you haven’t heard this song, then you should. Here are some links so you can do both. Notice: the first video is Rocky’s first run. Pay attention to the steps he goes up at the end.
The second video is after Rocky has been training for a long time and everybody know that the nobody from Philadelphia is going to fight the heavyweight champion of the world. Pay attention to the steps he goes up at the end. (Yes, same steps.)
I love my running playlists! Since I shared a song in a previous post (“Tightrope” performed by Janelle Monae), I decided to share another one. I should add, the music selection in my running playlist is all over the place. Here’s the one for this week:
“Tornado” from the original Broadway production of “The Wiz”, music and lyrics by Charlie Smalls.
Actually, I love the entire soundtrack. “Tornado” is the background music to, you guessed it, the tornado. It is an instrumental, but there is a chorus too. However, what’s so cool about the chorus is the way their voices blend into the music and become the storm along with the music. You have to hear it to understand.
The original soundtrack is available on iTunes. You can also hear it here.
Does anyone else have an instrumental song(s) they love on a playlist?
“Hey, Sugar!”by Mark Remy, Friday, October 23, 2015, 7:03AM-Runner’s World
I subscribe to Runner’s World newsletter, and it is arguably the best one I receive. The information is often useful whether you are a runner or not. This article by Mark Remy had me laughing out loud! So, naturally, I had to share it:
“Hey, Sugar! My name is Mark, and sometimes I consume things that are bad for me. It’s okay if you do, too.”
A few years ago, I was hiking in a U.S. northeastern mountain chain during the summer. The last stretch back to the car was a killer. Long. Hot. Rocky. I was trudging along when I realized my ears were ringing. I stopped my group. It turned out we all needed a rest. Provisions were low, but we had water and…
(Image from Bing) Eight fluid ounces of Tang contains 9 grams of sugar and 40 calories. Although this is lower than the 45 grams of sugar and the 180 calories in Mr. Remy’s super-special Dr. Brown’s Black Cherry soda, it was still a wonderful, thirst-quenching, lip-smacking moment, and I didn’t feel one bit guilty about my liquid nirvana.
When was the last time you enjoyed a “bad” food or drink without feeling guilty about it?
During my run yesterday, I was thinking about two kinds of conflict. I had worked out the day before. Ouch. For the first half or more of the run, all I could think about was the discomfort. My muscles and my brain were in major conflict.
Then I had the conflict of making a choice: Focus on the soreness or focus on something else. I switched my thoughts to the conflict in Valkyrie, my WIP (work in progress). The good news? I stopped thinking about my muscles. The bad news? I got caught up in worrying about whether the conflict is strong enough. Deep enough. Good enough. These doubts were almost as painful as my quads.
I don’t always listen to music while running, but I had my iPod yesterday, and this song saved me:
Written by Nathaniel Irvin, Charles Joseph, Antwan Patton, Janelle Monae Robinson and performed by Janelle Monae.
These words jumped out and pushed me out of the abyss of self-doubt:
But I’m another flavor
Something like a terminator
I’ll bet I’ve listened to “Tightrope” a hundred times, but I’ve never really heard those words.
Who can explain the moments when familiar things catch us unaware with a force so sudden and breath-stopping that we change our thinking?
Which came first? Writing or running? Both are natural inclinations. However, for most of us, one must be learned and the other does not. Do you remember the first time you ran? Probably not. Running happens soon after walking is mastered. It was a natural progression. It was fun. We just…ran.
On the other hand, none of us just…wrote. Writing required conscious effort and labor. Do you remember your hot, sweaty hand gripping your pencil as you formed letters over and over? We received grades on our writing too, and printing wasn’t the end. We had to learn cursive too. Fortunately, the labor of learning to write eventually became like running: Intrinsic. Automatic. Fun.
Running and writing have been intertwined intertwined in my life for years. They still are. Almost every time I go for a run, I think about what I’m writing. My best ideas spring from sweat and running shoes.
The challenge is to remember my ideas until I get back home and can write them down. Sure, I could take a device with me and record the ideas, but – full disclosure – I’ve tripped and fallen while fiddling with the device, changing from music to voice memo. It’s a pain in more ways than one. Besides, it’s good brain exercise to make myself remember. The other advantage to memorization is I get so focused on it that I usually forget about running discomforts, especially during a long run.
It doesn’t matter which one came first. Running and writing are intertwined. They are equally necessary and important. Writing makes me a better runner because I know the ideas are waiting for me…somewhere outside. So I’m motivated to go find them. Running makes me a better writer because it opens my mind, and I’m more comfortable sitting for long periods of time if I’ve exercised.
What about you? What motivates you to write? What motivates you to run?