1.8 Miles, 200 Calories
I am not “good” at exercise. I drag myself to my local gym 2-3 times per week and go through the motions. I’m a “plug in my earbuds and jog on the treadmill for the last half of a good crime drama”- kind of girl. Occasionally I wander around the weight machines until I find one that I can vaguely determine how to use without looking completely clueless.
Meanwhile, pulsating salsa music and jubilation emanates from the Zumba room – a foreign land, there, behind an accordion door, a boundary I dare not cross. The whole idea of lining up with a room full of people in front of a mirror to perform a synchronized dance terrifies me. Everyone will see just how uncoordinated I am.
I have spent the past two Saturday mornings at Writing Aerobics. I bring sharp pencils and a notepad to what amounts to a Zumba of creative thought. The first session was a formal, paid class at Writers and Books, the second by invitation to an informal gathering at a local bagel shop.
A facilitator offers a writing prompt – a word, a phrase or a sentence to spark your creativity. The prompt may be your theme, your opening sentence, the title, or simply the beginning shot of a volley of thoughts that lands in completely unrelated territory. Then you begin writing, or, in my case, staring off into space for a few minutes until the spark starts a fire.
Who wants to go first?
I won’t shake my booty at the gym, but I will read my writing in front of a group of people I just met. (Funny how that works.) While I write regularly – a blog post every week, my journal – I am not held accountable. There are no faces looking back from the screen of my laptop or the pages of my journal; no bemused expressions or puzzled stares. And no ideas exchanged like favorite dishes at a potluck supper.
I want to taste how she makes a chicken casserole, or how he makes baked beans. There’s no variety when I’m all alone with my scribbling, and I try not to drink my own Kool-Aid. A prompt of “nothing turns out the way you dream it” elicits fantastic story-bits of first dates, sprouting wings, and the strangers who leer from the peripherals of our nightmares.
Same Time, Next Week
How did I start with exercise and end with food? That explains a lot about my struggle to whip myself into shape. I plod along on the treadmill because I know it’s healthy for me and will help my body to give me a long(er) life.
Someday, I want to make my living by writing; to do that I need to condition and practice. Writing aerobics exercises the creative body of my brain, an exercise where I have to bend and pull in new ways, and where I can watch in the mirror to see how it’s properly done.