Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Joy of Getting It Over With Or, Why I Wish Someone Would Invent a Tabata Regime for Writing.

Dorothy Parker once said, "I hate writing, I love having written." I feel exactly the same way.

A lot of people who hear this, especially my writer buddies, find it odd. I love my secret career; I love the friends I've made, the emails from readers who enjoy my books and take the time to tell me about it, the extra money that allows me to provide things for my family I otherwise couldn't.

I love creating characters and building worlds. I'm not crazy about having to think up stuff to happen in those worlds, to those characters--plotting is hard--but I love inventing stories. It's just the getting it down on paper, or into pixels, that sucks.

I've got some pretty serious attention deficit issues. As I tell my Diva, that's not an excuse--it's a burden. For each hour I spend on my laptop I probably get, at best, twenty minutes of real writing done. The rest of the time is spent Not Writing, at which I excel. I'm currently stuck at about a quarter of the way through two WIPs (works in progress), and I'm starting to panic because with all the current chaos in my life (we're doing a bunch of house renovations and living out of suitcases) I have even less time to write than I normally do and I'm even more distracted than I typically am.  My Diva is on ADD medication and I've seriously thought about popping one of her pills just to see if it helps.

The thing is, I adore the feeling I get when I've managed to pound out a few good paragraphs. There's (almost) nothing better than reading a few pages of WIP and thinking, "That's good. I wrote that, and it's good." And the feeling when I turn in a completed manuscript, and my publisher offers me contract? Elation. Ecstasy. Ebullient rejoicing. (At least, from what I remember. My last book was turned in over a year ago.)

Another thing I find hard to do, but love the feeling of having done, is working out. I'm approaching fifty and I'm not by nature slim, so if I want to lose weight, I have to exercise. Some people really can lose weight by diet alone; I'm not one of them. Even though I know how essential exercise is to a healthy mind and body, though, I can think of a million excuses not to do it on any given day.

But once I'm on the treadmill or the elliptical, or once I'm outside with a dog or two on a leash, I actually enjoy it. I like running with the dogs, and when I'm on cardio machines I can read, which I never have time to do. (I can't say the same thing for writing -- even when I'm in the zone, pounding out the paragraphs, I don't enjoy the process. I can't read a book or watch TV while I'm writing.)

I love how I feel after I've worked out. I'm not talking about the mental or emotional satisfaction I get from crossing it off my endless to do list. I mean I love the physical feeling after a really hard workout. I've been living at my sister's for two weeks while our house is repaired. She lives in a huge, suburban master planned community. I make fun of her being a Fort Bend Barbie, but this place is gorgeous, with miles of tree lined walking trails. I've been doing hour-long power walks, and when I come home I'm a delicious kind of exhausted. My legs are rubbery while the rest of my body is all loose and warm, I feel calm yet kind of buzzed, more focused yet more relaxed. I feel even better if I've spent an hour swimming. But even so, even knowing how awesome I'll feel after I'm done, it's still hard to force myself to carve out the time for it.

So I was pretty excited to learn about tabata, a particularly intense form of interval training. I already do interval training when I'm on the cardio machines at the gym; tabata is a shorter and more intense version. A four minute tabata session is said to be the equivalent of forty-five minutes of cardio. If you do it right, according to my sister and others I've talked to, it's the longest four minutes of your life because you're going as flat out, hard core, high intensity as you can. The first few times she did it, my very fit sister thought she'd throw up. The results, she says, are well worth it. (Seriously. Read about this, it's fascinating.) As soon as I kick my latest round of bronchitis I'm going to try it.

Now if only I could figure out a way to do the same thing with writing...

What chores or unfun activities would you like to apply the tabata principles to?


Kelly Jamieson said...

I'm interested in the physical tabata workout! I do intervals when I run, both on the treadmill and outside, because I understand it really helps increase your cardiovascular fitness, but I run for 35-40 minutes. A 4 minute workout that equals that? I wanna try it!

PG Forte said...

I used to love that "just exercised" feeling. Nowadays, I just feel exhausted afterwards. Hopefully that will change soon.

Drmgrl99 - Dawn said...

I have found a great way to work out... I put my book o the streadmill or bike and just read :) I forget I'm on it and read but then when I realize I've been on it for 2 hrs I can barely move to get off of i -lol