Recently, my knees have been bothering me. Tired of “dealing with it,” I did some cursory searching online to see what the cause could be. I was pleased to see that most of the results did not conclude with “if untreated, you may die a terrible death in two months and have your kneecaps eaten by dust mites.” I determined that my symptoms were caused by tight muscles and finally admitted to myself that I had let my flexibility training lapse far too much. I knew what this meant: Stretching. And lots of it.
Fortunately, over the last decade I have accumulated quite a workout library. For the last three days, I’ve added a quick ten-minute stretching program to my routine. In three days, the pain in my knees is drastically reduced, just a twinge here and there.
And this got me thinking about writing. (Because I’m always thinking about writing, even if I’m not actually doing any writing. I’ve tried to explain to many a non-writer that this is, in fact, part of the writing process. I have wasted my breath.) Without question, the most repeated piece of advice I’ve ever heard from successful writers is “write every day.” And it makes sense! Just like a muscle, one’s writing skill needs worked and stretched and treated kindly every day, not just sporadically. Why? Because when we go to use a muscle that’s unconditioned, bad things happen. (Remember that embarrassing poetry you wrote in tenth grade about the cute guy or girl who sat next to you in math class? Yeah, that’s the kind of stuff I’m talking about.)
Several years have passed since I’ve done any serious writing. Honestly, I’m a little afraid to even start again, wondering
will it hurt?
will I do damage to myself?
will I binge eat afterwards under the guise of “refueling”?
I am quick to encourage people to stretch through the fear, grab hold of the other side, and pull themselves through. I am a little hesitant to take my own advice. Not because I don’t trust it, but because I’m human, and failing is scary. But, I also believe in leading by example. So as of today, I’ve added stretching to my writing routine. And that just might be the most important achievement of my journey thus far.
Let’s get the beach ball rolling: Consider the most important goal in your life right now. How have you stretched yourself toward achieving it?