Tag Archives: motivation

When the Iron is Hot

No, I did NOT stay up ’til 4 AM after a short catnap in order to finish a chapter of my current project. Haha, who would do such a thing?

I’ve read numerous articles (as I’m sure any aspiring writer also has) discussing discipline and honing one’s craft. We can’t simply wait for inspiration, then write. We have to carve out time and force out effort, knowing that even if the result sucks, at least it was a result that helps us get better in the long run.

Quantity of effort ensures opportunity for quality effort.

“Strike when the iron is hot,” so goes the saying. And it’s taken to mean we should take advantage of those brief bursts of creativity and inspiration. When an idea springs to mind, run with it. If a scene plays out in your head, start writing or typing, and put that image down on record.

But that understanding of the idiom is flawed. The iron only gets hot when the smith gives careful attention to the fire, ensuring the proper temperature to work the metal. The iron gets hot because of effort, not luck. Thus, opportunities can be created, not merely stumbled upon.

I’m curious. If you write or express yourself creatively (which you probably do in some fashion if you’re reading WordPress), what is your experience with the balance of Muscle and Muse, the interplay between forcing out effort and flowing with creative energy?

I do the former to find the latter. What’s your take?

Critique Group on Steroids

There’s a special moment coming today that both excites me and fills me with dread.

It’s not tonight’s special date with the wifey – we’re going to the symphony, something she’s been wanting to do since we came to Omaha.

It’s not our 2nd annual Christian Writers’ conference today, with a special guest couple who are going to talk about songwriting (a passion of mine). I’m looking forward to hearing what all the speakers have to say.

It’s not even the silly skit we’re going to perform for the writers in the audience. I can handle getting up and saying a few lines in public without heart palpitations.

So what has me all a-flutter?

The first two chapters of my main writing project are going to get professionally critiqued during a 20-minute sit-down with an editor.

I belong to a critique group with at least a few folk who can be “mean enough” to tell me when something I write just doesn’t work for them. But we’re all encouraging with one another, and so it can sometimes feel like we’re all patting each other on the back.

This editor has no reason to waste his time and mine by sticking to niceties and compliments. In fact, I imagine he’ll pull no punches precisely because that’s what he’s there for.

So I’m cringing a bit, but I’m giddy at the prospect too.

We’ll see if I’m singing the same tune in a few hours.

Let's Go

This little gem is one of my workout favorites; it’s like a motivational speech put to song. And it’s just what I need.

(I gather it’s a Calvin Harris song, and maybe there’s some other version of it, but this is the one I like.)

I don’t count myself as a fitness guru, but I blog about it sometimes because the perspective of a fat guy striving to improve at the gym is probably very relatable. And also, it’s part of what’s going on in my life.

Right now, I am just starting getting back to the gym after bone fusion surgery. It’s challenging and painful, but I know it’s part of the healing process.

I get disappointed while hobbling around, or easing myself onto a bike, or gingerly trying out the elliptical. It’s frustrating to watch the fleet-footed runners on the track, gliding as if on the winged feet of Hermes. It’s hard not to try to keep up with the cardio crazies on the machines, pushing and pulling the arms of the elliptical in sprints that seem to last half an hour. And I miss Spinning, with its jumps and hills, isolations and single-leg work.

Part of me wants to look back and think, “I was once a Spin instructor.” I was able to hang with those guys. I could powerwalk a sub 12-minute mile (no easy feat for a fattie!) and own the cardio machines for hours.

I wasn’t gritting my teeth back then, lurching around the track like Frankenstein.

The song reminds me, “It’s not about what you’ve done, it’s about what you’re doin’. It’s all about where you’re going, no matter where you’ve been.”

Part of me looks to the road ahead and sighs, ready to give up. Physical therapy sessions, strenuous exercises, strict dieting, pushing to increase speed just to get back to where I was before… the future looks like hard work.

But the song keeps me in the now. “Let’s go. Let’s make it happen. Make no excuses now, I’m talking here and now. Your time is running out.”

Today is what matters. This workout should be my best. Yesterday’s done, nothing I can do about that. And tomorrow’s problems can wait until then.

Let’s go.

What’s your motivational song? When everything inside says “take it easy,” what kicks you into action? Let me know in a comment, so I can go get some more music.

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Side note: If you’re in the Omaha area and need some screws drilled into your feet, or any other kind of orthopedic care, Dr. Jon Goldsmith is the guy to see.