My physical and mental strength are connected. If I get lazy, so does my writing. Right now I’m on the best consistent streak in over 5 years and I’ve been going to the gym at least once a week. That correlation isn’t coincidence.
For those who don’t know, I was in a terrible car accident when I was a teenager. My right orbital was crushed, intestines scarred to the point I needed two surgeries to remove the damaged portions, and endured compression fractures on two lumbar vertebrae. It was a long road to recovery, and my back has no qualms letting me know if I’m not keeping it strong and flexible.
I’ve been working on flexibility, endurance and strength. And Monday I reached two milestones. First, I benched 150 pounds for 10 repetitions. It’s been a long time since I could do that. Many people wouldn’t consider that a monumental weight, but they’re my milestones and they haven’t endured what I have. It was a great milestone, but the big win was something I hadn’t done since that car accident over 15 years ago: touch my toes.
For months after the accident I wore what I called my “turtle shell.” It was a hard brace to keep weight off my back. When I took it off and started physical therapy, I couldn’t do a single sit-up. My core, back, and abs had to be completely dormant while the vertebrae healed. I was 5’9″ and barely over 100 pounds my body had endured so many surgeries and dietary problems.
Monday, during my cool-down I went to do a straight leg, sitting hamstring stretch. It’s where your legs are in front of you, and you bring your arms toward your feet. Initially my fingers grazed the tongue (that part directly under the shoelaces). As I counted down from sixty, I went further into the stretch. With thirty seconds remaining, I brought my fingers up from the shoelaces, and hit the trim (the part just under the toe box). At twenty seconds remaining, I grabbed the toe box and pulled my upper body down.
16 years, 8 months, 13 days ago I was in that car accident. I finally kept the persistence and dedication to touch my toes. Again, some would look at the achievement and scoff, consider it not a lot. However, once again they are my milestones and odds are very few people on this earth endured what I did.
Now, I’m wrapping up a book that I’m self-publishing in March, while submitting an already accomplished novel. All of these monuments are connected. Physical strength may not be the correlating factor for you as a writer. However, it’s likely that something must be shared to ensure your mental strength as an artist. Once you find it, hit milestones and keep moving forward. Because now that I’ve touched my toes, it’s time to work on getting my head to my knees. And now that I’m shopping one book, while finalizing a self-published second, it’s time to get writing on the third.
Milestones are the end of one achievement, and the beginning of a more difficult challenge. But the rewards keep getting sweeter.