Writing Advice at the Bottom

I have been a slacker this winter. Oh, I have run on the treadmill, and hiked with the dog, but in terms of logging good, heart-pumping, want to keel over and die miles? Not so much.

This is bad for so many reasons, the main one being that my mind, it goes like a hamster on a wheel. Being too tired to stay awake at night and worry about everything from the state of publishing to how I can fend off the inevitable shark attack at our sleepy beach on Long Island Sound this summer to whether tomatoes with fish genes will ever be approved (I do not jest — look it up) is an excellent thing. And of course, there’s the reason of health. But most importantly ….

there’s the vanity. My husband bought me a very fancy dress for a very fancy event this summer, and not fitting into it, or fitting into it and looking like an overstuffed kardashian, is truly not part of the game plan. And so I cast around and looked for an emergency solution, one that would work well with wine and chocolate.

I found a local gym that was running a health challenge, in which you promise to attend a certain number of classes, eat a certain number of calories, and commit to a certain number of minutes spent in cardiovascular exercise, and the gym promises you will get in shape. At first I thought “Ha — suckers! I will ROCK this cardiovascular exercise part.” But unfortunately, life gets in the way, and spending X number of hours a day running hasn’t been possible. So instead of setting aside big chunks of time every day for exercise, I’ve been trying to sneak it in — I get to the gym 15 minutes before my class starts and walk around the block. At night, I drag my son and the Slobbering Beast with me for a nightly jaunt. I’m still running and hiking a few days a week, but on the days I have other obligations — and there are many of them — 15 minutes a handful of times throughout the day is what happens.

And you know what? It’s working. Numbers that I wanted to go down are dropping, slowly but steadily. Maybe not as quickly as they would if I committed to running five miles a day again, every day, but dropping all the same.

Writing is like this too. I’d thought that this year, with both my children in school, I’d have hours of luxurious time to devote to writing. Most days, I don’t. Some of that is because of outside obligations, obligations I can’t control, but sometimes, it’s because the idea of sitting down and looking at a blank page for two hours is terrifying, and I will fill those two hours with almost anything else. (Except ironing. Even I have limits.)

So I’ve been taking my laptop with me lately. Fifteen minutes in the waiting room before a doctor’s appointment. Ten minutes in the car before the kids get out of school. It’s not a lot of time, it’s true, but the words add up. Because sometimes the freedom of knowing you can’t get it ALL done in the short time you have allows you to get SOMETHING done, which eventually adds up to all.

How’s your writing coming these days?Image

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Liz Michalski


  1. Vaughn Roycroft on April 9, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    I love the notepad idea. I try not to worry, and I do find time to walk every day. But perhaps the worry is the only thing that kept me from becoming Jabba the Hut over the winter(did Jabba enjoy locally crafted Tatooine ale and Bantha burgers with large sides of fries?). Don’t worry, Liz, I’m sure you’ll avoid the Kardashian stuffing of your dress. Say, that dress doesn’t happen to be made of shiny gold material? (Sorry, last winter’s Jabba slipped out there. Springtime Vaughn would’ve never asked. 😉 )

    • liz on April 9, 2013 at 10:14 pm

      Winter is very tough on us Jabbas, Vaughn. My inner Jabba enjoys fries as well. (And chocolate, and cupcakes. Ale not so much.) And no shiny gold material, although the shoes are pretty sci-fi!

  2. Jan O'Hara (Tartitude) on April 9, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    I hope we get to see a photo of this dress! Preferably with you in it, at some point.

    Chunking is how I’m doing everything these days–that and setting the timer, settling for ridiculously small goals which I tell myself are better than nothing. It’s all about the art of the restart, for me.

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