How To Fight Writer’s Cramp

And I’m not talking about your hand, either. I’m talking about your brain and the obsessive work-every-minute-of-the-day mindset. As a writer, I feel like I am always plotting, always thinking of that next scene, always waiting for that blast of inspiration that will send me dashing to the keyboard. My husband and I even joke that I’m brainstorming when we’re having sex. People – it’s no joke. 😀

It’s damn hard to stop thinking about work when you like your job and there are no set hours, no real end points and the boss is impossible to satisfy. I keep plugging away, telling myself I’ll give myself a break after the next story, the next story, the next story…

Any of this ring a bell? Doesn’t have to be writing, could be anything – parenting, owning a small business, being a boss – that leads to burnout. I’m nowhere close to burning out, but I can’t ignore the signals from my body any longer. I’m thirty-nine and I told myself a year ago that I needed to move it or lose it. None of my aches and pains are going to get better after forty without me taking action. So I joined the gym. I even went a few times, but I’m a writer. I work on deadlines. And self-imposed deadlines are great, but…

Now that I’ve told you my age, that my body hurts and I’m a work-a-holic, I might as well tell you having my three kids sucked the life out of me. No, really. Two post-partum hemorrhages, one complete placenta previa, a trail of blood, a midnight 911 call, seven units of blood, one bag of platelets, two D&Cs, three years of breast feeding – and ten years recovering. There’s a story in there, but I’m still too mad to tell it and all the sex happens before the story starts, so YAWN! But guess what? In the middle of all this crazy kid raisin’ I forgot how strong my body used to be. In my twenties, my idea of a good time was doing back-to-back aerobics classes and picking up a guy at the gym. (Hi, Honey!) How did that girl turn into someone who tells personal trainers, “Let’s go slow. I’m fragile.”

A few weeks ago, my friend Melissa mentioned she was taking classes at another gym. The long-forgotten aerobic queen inside of me jumped up on a step. How could I have forgotten for ten long years that I freaking love aerobics? Yes, I know I thought I was too fragile – maybe I was. But throwing myself into the middle of one Zumba class made me feel more powerful than I have felt in a Very Long Time. I walked out of that class having remembered something that I hope will be my key to fighting writer’s cramp: I love deadlines. Love them. Give me a deadline and I will give you the goods. Zumba at 5:30 PM? I’m there! Twenty minutes on the elliptical whenever I want? I’m…not there. I’m at the computer, cramped over the keyboard, typing away, feeling my shoulders get rounder, my core get weaker and my wrist get number.

It’s time to step out of my rut, people, but that’s the thing about ruts. It’s easier to stay in them. It’s hard to get out of them. It takes effort. There might be pain, but it’s a better kind of pain than a cramp, I hope. My key to fighting writer’s cramp is deadlines, aerobics and endorphins, the same things that worked for me ten years ago. Stretch! I’m not fragile. I’m a powerhouse!

What about you? Do you want to get moving too? What is the key for YOU?

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2 comments

  1. You rock! I’ll even try the Zumba with you cuz your post got me so fired up! But you should also try the weight-lifting class with me!

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