The benefits of swimming.

25 Jan

I started swimming this week. Let me back up. I got married last summer, so the preceding months were filled with lettuce, water, and exercise. Post-wedding has been filled with bread, sugary drinks, and walking up and down my stairs (to get things, not as an exercise routine). The time has come to get back in shape. As this is my first winter in St. Louis, I’ve been wimpy and whiny about running outside. An indoor pool is much more enticing.

I am fairly certain that swimming also helps me with my writing. How I approach swimming is how I should approach writing. First, I have to start with a plan. If I don’t plan a workout, cue to me 20 minutes in, convincing myself that the warm shower is calling my name. Before I know it, I’m in that shower. The same is true for writing, maybe not the whole shower thing, but I work well with structure. Writing a novel is overwhelming and without a plan, I am lost. Just like without GPS or another human being with me, I am lost (sometimes where it’s embarrassing, like in a shopping mall). Once the plan is in place, it’s time to channel Nike. Just do it. A plan is just that without execution. Those first few laps are painful. Cold water. Stiff joints. Heavy legs. Weak arms. Eventually I stop fighting the water and I am Natalie Coughlin.* Once I have battled through the discomfort (or at times, more aptly termed, torture), my body moves through the water with greater ease. And once I have battled through the discomfort and/or torture of writers block, my brain operates with greater ease. After the warm-up, it’s just swimming. Swimming that can be sharpened through adjusting technique. If I hold my head too high in the water when I breathe, my legs sink. If I expend too much energy on a flip turn, I’m tire out quickly. If I booze it up before getting in the pool, I throw up. Just kidding. Although, I’m sure this would happen. Focusing on techniques that may seem like small details can have a huge impact. If I don’t develop flawed characters, they fall flat. If I focus too much on the emotional journey and not enough on the plot, the book will feel too slow, but if I focus too much on the action of the plot, the book will feel empty.

It seems that the benefits of swimming can be transferred beyond the pool. Perhaps you can transfer them to something in your life. Happy Friday! 🙂

*gross overstatement

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