I haven’t worked out in five years. Five years. Not since I was pregnant with my first child. Off and on, during that time, I thought about getting back into the swing, but it never happened. I had good reasons: sleepless nights and crying babies and diapers and teething and exhaustion and just wanting to collapse into a chair and not think about making an effort to sweat. Lack of exercise isn’t the worst thing. I’m still alive and kicking. The real problem with putting off something important for so long is that it starts to look like a monstrous impossibility.
If fear has any substance at all, then its diet must be chiefly one of time. It begins as a wriggling worm, a parasite, hardly capable of impeding our progress or even attracting our attention. But it gorges on minutes and hours, on days and weeks. Months and years are its greatest and most exquisite feasts, and the longer we allow it to feed, the larger it looms in our vision. It will destroy our health. It will ravage our peace of mind. It will blot out our dreams. If we let it…
It’s the same with writing. There’s a reason the most difficult part of writing is sitting down and starting. The longer I put off that first sentence, the more terrifying the idea becomes. Fear makes me feel as if those words will never come, as if I might actually die in the process of putting them on paper. How ridiculous.
Once you sit down and begin, no matter how poor your beginning, you discover that it really isn’t so bad. The process doesn’t kill you, and your day continues as it would have done. The only difference is that you’ve begun. You’ve taken the first, worst, best step toward achieving your goal. Funny thing about getting started: once you do, you start to get finished.
I’ve been jumping around and working up a sweat for a few weeks now. It’s not that bad. A short morning workout isn’t the central focus of my day, and I’m not in excruciating pain, and I’m feeling kind of good…kind of strong. And if I keep exercising my muscles (my writerly muscles, too), I won’t give fear the time to loom larger and larger. My goals will seem to be what they are: attainable…with just a bit of effort and consistency. Before I know it, I’ll be healthier. I’ll have written more. I’ll start to get finished.