Saturday, March 14, 2009

Scoring Four

Every day, there are things we have to do and things we want to do. I won't dwell on what I have to do every day because what fun is in that? Instead I'll share what I want to do. These are my Big Four, ranked according to how I wish they were prioritized:
  1. Exercise
  2. Writing
  3. Guitar
  4. Reading
But if I'm honest about how I spend my time, it works out more like this:
  1. Exercise
  2. Reading
  3. Guitar
  4. Writing
And reading is only ranking #2 because I'm including time spent surfing the net, which is actually cheating. What I mean for that to be is reading books. Either way, reading is effortless and entertaining, no matter what it is or where I do it, so it's easy for me to slide that toward the top and not even notice what I've done.

Guitar outranks writing because it's easier to notice improvement in my guitar playing than my writing. With dogs and kids they call that positive reinforcement and I guess the same is true for a hack guitarist. I can make a song recognizable in a few tries, but might work on a story idea for months before it takes form. The story I'm working on now is a year old and still reads to me like it was written by a third grader.

I want to score 4/4 every day and seldom do. If I don't do everything on my list, I feel like a slacker. Somewhere there's a balance I haven't found. Maybe I'll aim for two a day. Also, I try to squeeze these things in between 5:00-6:30 a.m. and 8:00-11:00 p.m. because that's when my kids are sleeping but I can make myself be awake (see Mom Guilt). It's hard to fit in hobbies during the times when my body would rather be in bed, and it's asking a heck of a lot to produce a coherent narrative during those hours.

Today I was attacking the treadmill, sweat pouring down my face, ready for the run to be finished. I've been there a thousand times before. On the treadmill, on the bike, a few miles from a finish line, whatever. I tell myself, "You can rest when it's over but right now there's work to do." It works. I'm very practiced at talking myself through physical endurance.

It doesn't work for writing. For one thing, there's no finish line. Even after a bazillion drafts, there's still something to improve. Also, at least marathons and triathlons always start out fun. At some point during the race I expect to get tired and at that point it becomes mind over body. Writing's only fun when I know what's supposed to happen in the scene. If I don't know what's coming next (and I usually don't), it's supremely frustrating and very scary. Most days I sit down to write, I feel like I've jumped in at Mile 20. I missed the fun part and I'm just suffering through The Wall. Self-doubt creeps in. Who am I to think I can write a story? I get discouraged and pick up the guitar. Maybe I see what people are doing on Facebook. I often check e-mail. Whatever I do, usually popcorn is involved.

Somehow I'll slide writing up to the #2 slot, but it might be easier if I got a bunch of free stuff in my race packet and went home with a cool-looking t-shirt.

1 comment:

  1. This blog counts as writing, and I love the stories you write here :)