Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Firing Up Those Neurons

Remember when you were little and loved to run? And it was easy? Yeah, those memories are pretty distant for me too. I've had an interesting past with sports in general. I never liked team sports as a child, though I enjoyed tennis, walking, hiking, biking, yoga and swimming. I also took gymnastics, but only recreationally. 

It wasn't until I was in my twenties that I discovered running. After doing the MS150 Bike to the Beach for charity, a friend told me I had the endurance to run a marathon. Obviously, I looked at him like he had two heads. At that point I'd never run more than two miles, indoors, on a treadmill. Run 26.2 miles? Outside? With hoards of people? Hmmmm...

So, of course, I did it. That got me hooked, and I ran a series of half marathons and smaller runs over the following years into my thirties. I also became a walk coach for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team in Training. I love walking and run/walking, so this was a perfect fit to help other first time marathoners believe that they could accomplish the same goal.  

Then, I had my second child. Screeeeeech! Yes, that was the sound of my running career being put on hold. Did it have to? No. Many new moms still run. But I wasn't one of them. After aggressively walking when my daughter was first born, I got a stress fracture that laid me up for 8 weeks. I was still dealing with grief and depression from the loss of my grandmother. My husband was traveling to India on business back then, and the primary care taking of our two children was done by moi. Sure, I exercised during that time. Even trained for a mud run. But it was easy to get out of the habit and make excuses. Even though I felt better when I did it.

Sound like the writing process? 

The best way to keep those neurons fired up and the creativity flowing is to write as consistently as possible. I'm not saying you need to write at the same time or in the same place every day. But the more you write, the easier it is. The blank page isn't quite so intimidating. The ideas flow. You avoid the awkward, "Would you like to dance. Who leads?" feeling as you sit there staring down the computer. I truly believe that the more you write, the more you read, the more you think creatively, the better you get. Yes, practice yields stronger results. But it's more than that.

It's taking yourself seriously. Remembering that you are an author - and not being afraid to do the work. Just like running. The more you run, the more you see yourself as an athlete. And sometimes, that mental image is the biggest hurdle to overcome to achieve your goals. But every goal worth achieving starts with the first step, the first key-stroke. But it doesn't stop there. One step doesn't equal a marathon. It takes guts, determination, perseverance, belief, and training. 

When you're writing a novel, it's not an easy 5K, or even a 10K. It's a full on marathon. It takes time, consistency, practice, and yes: guts, determination, perseverance, belief, and training. 

So this week, I've laced up my sneakers and created a training plan for my upcoming 10K. But I didn't stop there. I committed myself to a training schedule for the rest of the year. Because my goal isn't the 10K. It's better health. It's the ability to run consistently and not need to start from zero every time. Thankfully, your muscles don't forget. They rejoice in warming up and relaxing. They long for the consistency of movement. They like to be used, and used some more. 

Just like your brain. Even if you're starting writing from zero again, just start. Your memory recalls your creativity, your voice, your passion. Neurons fire up and say, "Thank you! Thank you for sparking my creativity again. I remember and I love this!"

So let's lace up our shoelaces and commit to good health. Let's shut off the TV, put down the book, take a few minutes each day, and stare down that key-board, together. It's time to become writing athletes - one word at a time.


  1. Good post. You're right, it is a marathon, but even those 1,000 word sprints every now and then really help. I fight through that uncertainty and self doubt every time I sit down to write . . . I just wish I enjoyed running as much as I do writing.

  2. I love adding in writing sprints. Some of my most inspired chapters come from those =) It's exactly why we do interval training with running and walking too. You get stronger! =)