Saturday, June 9, 2012

Exercising The Mind

When most people want a change in their lives, the first place we usually head for is the gym. Something about exercising muscles that we hardly use makes us feel rejuvenated. And if we really want to make the most of our gym memberships, we usually join a workout class of like-minded people in order to move as one organism in a fitness bonding ritual.
Sometimes we try to design our own workouts at home, or follow some exercise DVDs or internet videos. But it never feels the same as working out with a bunch of people, where we are all together motivated towards a common goal. After all, if we didn’t have this need to gain confidence through the pursuit of common interests with like-minded people, Gold’s Gym and Curves would never have become successful businesses, never mind Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig.
With that in mind, in this quest of mine to become a better writer, or, at least to not be the worst writer on the planet, I designed my own ‘writer workouts’. The often-referenced fanfic. This blog. Other pieces sitting in draft form on my hard drives. Making sure I could put words together to make sense. The problem with home workouts is, after a while, you wonder if you’re doing it right, or if the methods you’ve been using have developed bad habits and shortcuts, and as a result, you are no longer improving the fitness of your muscles, but causing them strain and fatigue. And that’s where I felt I was.

It was time for me to join a writer’s gym if you will. Now I don’t have the kind of cash that would get me a locker suite or a personal trainer (i.e. the Creative Writing Honours BA at Humber College. I’m nowhere near ready, mentally or financially, to go through school again.). So I went looking for the cheapest (i.e. free or better) workout place that would give me the most value for my lack of dollars.  

There are many writing forums and writer workshops that offer free advice, and many of them are even credible. After hunting around, and after receiving a recommendation from my ever-supportive and always-neglected partner, I decided to sign up with a writer workshop site that is half-free, half pay. That is, there are many resources and exercises available that are free, but for the intense help (with editors and the like), you have to pay. That`s only fair. Someone is taking time out of their writing life to tell you how to make yours better, and most times, it’s not the easiest thing to do, that is, to leave your writing life to support someone with theirs.

And, like you do before you commit yourself to a locker at the new gym, I did a trial class for free, to see if it was the place for me, and to see if my writing muscles were conducive to the workout techniques offered at this forum. Although I’m not sure of the end result of the exercise in the eyes of the literary evaluators (my exercise is posted but won’t be reviewed or judged for another month), it just felt really good to flex some muscles of the mind that haven’t been twisted around for quite a while. In fact, it felt so good, that I’m working on a short story in a realm that I know nothing about as my next literary fitness exercise. Much like a fitness newbie (or a re-newbie, if you will), I don’t want to overstretch any muscles that may be atrophied from lack of use. But I figure after writing the ├╝ber-long fanfic, the mental muscles have been warmed up enough. They need a new routine and direction. And I still get to eat cake without guilt!

**Just a post script here – the reason why I’m not giving the name of the site is that, again, I don’t know if I’m ready for people to know that I’m posting there yet. Even though I’m sure if you Google me, you’ll find the page. If something prolific comes out of it, I’ll be sure to share it with you directly.

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