This morning, like many mornings before, I set off on a power-walk up the hill behind us. The walk starts as a gentle climb and then gets steeper and steeper. I cannot make the full trip uphill without resting at least once on the way. This rest, however, enables me to look back down the hill and see how far I have come and enjoy the view.
Today I reflected on how similar my writing goals are to this walk. First of all, I’m doing the power-walk to get fitter – that’s my goal (and to fit into some of my stored clothing!). I get fit by exercising my leg, heart and lung muscles. (I’m sure runners will have more exact terms for these.) By writing, any writing, fact or fiction, I exercise my brain muscle and my writing will become more fit for purpose, which is my writing goal. I will, when I stop for reflection, see the words that reach my goal and those that need further work. I will be stretching myself toward my writing goals.
Once I reach the top of the hill there is a flat stretch that gives me time to enjoy my success. My heart slows and my breathing becomes normal. On the way down I don’t walk so fast. Now I have time to enjoy my environment. I watch a family of California quail scurry like ground-hugging bumble bees into the undergrowth. I note the purple stems of buddleia swaying in the gentle breeze. I watch the sea fog huddle over the spit. All these images I can store away in my writer’s brain and bring out when the appropriate moment appears.
Not only am I stretching myself toward my fitness goal, I’m also stretching myself in many other facets of life.