Monday, March 29, 2010

Fidgeting to Frustration

I like to run. I know that phrase puts me in the "Are you insane?!" category for many people, but I could say the same for those who watch reality TV. (We all have our idiosyncrasies, right?) Not only do I like to run, but I also like to make running & writing analogies, or running & life analogies, or basically any running analogy I can get away with. And if you know anything about foreshadowing, then you know what's coming...

Yet another Running Analogy!

I don't usually like running on a treadmill, mostly because it makes me feel a bit like this.
But ever since the time change, my normal running time (i.e. freakishly early) is really dark and cold, so I'm embracing my inner hamster until the days get longer. And all of this is just to explain why I was on a treadmill the other day and had this experience.

I'd been going like a crazy hamster for a while and had about another mile or two to go when a lady got on the treadmill next to me. She took a while pushing the buttons to get things set up the way she liked it. No problem. Then she fiddled with her music player for a while. Still no problem, except it was taking her a really long time to actually get going on the treadmill.

She pressed start and the treadmill started going. She jogged for a couple minutes, then paused the treadmill to mess with her music again. She started it up again, jogged another minute or two, and then she jumped off the belt and did some arm stretches--while the treadmill was still going. After several stretches she hopped on to jog for another couple minutes. Then she hopped on the little platforms on the side--treadmill still going--to do some leg stretches. Back on to jog for a minute, then off, then on, then off, then on again, etc.

From the corner of my eye I watched the numbers count up on the treadmill display. According to it, the lady had been exercising for 10 minutes and gone a certain distance, when in actuality she'd only spent maybe a third of the time actually exercising. The rest of the time she was fidgeting (and making me motion sick).

After she finished, this lady very likely would feel good about her 30 minute run at the gym, but the truth is that she fidgeted her workout to death. And I'd bet my favorite treadmill in front of the fan, that she gets frustrated at her lack of progress.

Here's where I liken this to writing. Let's say you have an hour to write. If you're not careful, it's very easy to get sucked into writing-like activities. So in that 60 minutes, perhaps only 20 of it was spent writing, while the other 40 was checking email, or Twitter, or researching the perfect rock for that single sentence that really has no major plot importance but if you could have a picture then you could make the description be-awesome. And like the treadmill fidgeter, you probably will get frustrated at your lack of progress.

In the spirit of my treadmill epiphany, I've been doing whatever writing I can at my kitchen table, or making myself do it before I even turn on the internet at all. It's true I haven't found nearly as many cool blog posts or fun Youtube vidoes, but I'm getting a whole heckuva lot more writing done.

The great thing is that this can apply to all sorts of things in your life. Got to clean a bathroom? Make sure you don't keep stopping to do this, that, or the other. You might be surprised how often you Fidget to Frustration. But now you're aware and can start to change, right?

Anyone else out there a fidgeter?


Danyelle said...

Great post! This is exactly why I base my goals on word count rather than time. That way I can see my real progress rather than trying to sift through that time to figure out how much I'm actually writing.

Kimberly said...

Heck, I sometimes fidget so much I don't get any writing done at all. Great analogy, that's really going to stick in my head.

L.T. Elliot said...

Great post, Jaime. (And I loved Danyelle's comment about wordcount for this reason.)

I'm working on my running lately and I'm in it for the duration. =]

Kerrie said...

This is so true and such a good reminder to focus (completely) on what you are doing at the moment. You will get so much more accomplished.

Patti said...

I like running after I'm done. I love running analogies as well. RIght now I'm in the middle of a marathon with my current WIP.

Don said...

Yup - this would be me. Fortunately, once I actually get writing, I don't generally stop. But all of the little things that come before? They chew up the minutes!