I have a standing gym date with my friend Sandy on Wednesdays. It's a good thing, too, because without it, there are plenty of weeks that I wouldn't get to the gym at all.
It's not that I mind going. It's that there are so many other things I'd rather do, especially in the morning, which is the best time to go to the gym in the first place. Unfortunately, it's also ideal writing time.
Today, however, Sandy didn't show up at the appointed time. That's not like her, so I picked up the phone to call her, only to discover that I had several unheard voice mail messages. (One drawback to the convenience of voice mail is the lack of a flashing red light to alert those of us who need to see things to the fact that there's a message waiting). One of the messages was from Sandy, who'd called last night to cancel.
Fortunately, I was all dressed (for the gym) and ready to go, and so I went anyway. With no gym buddy, though, I had to grab my iPod and some reading material so I'd stay on the treadmill for more than a minute and a half. Not wanting to lose momentum on my writing projects, I printed out some things I was working on and brought them along.
My time on the treadmill was a comedy of errors. I tried to mark additions and changes on the pages while walking, with limited success. While I managed to stay on the treadmill and even scribble a few nearly indecipherable things onto the pages, these successes were not without cost. I accidentally pushed the buttons on control panel several times, causing me to need to restart the treadmill at least three times. Consequently, I have no idea how long or how far I walked today.
You'd think that would cause me to re-evaluate my plan and perhaps even stop trying to read and edit simultaneously, but if so, you'd be wrong. It wasn't until I sent my papers tumbling to the floor (and would have had to restart the treadmill again in order to stop and pick them up) that I decided I wasn't meant to multitask, at least not in the way I was trying to.
So, I traded in my pages for my iPod, only to discover that the pump had already been primed. Brainstorming had commenced. Ideas had formed. I had succeeded in using my gym time to jump start my writing, and the ideas were flowing.
A few errands later, I ended up at Starbucks, picking up the editing where I'd left off and scribbling down all the things that had run through my head while I walked. Finally, I numbered each page, prioritizing the projects, excited by the thought of tackling them instead of feeling overwhelmed by all I had to do.
While I have no intention of trading my treadmill talk time with Sandy in for another writing planning session with my runaway pages, I can truly say that I made good use of my time this morning. And who knows? Maybe the next time I'm stuck on a project, I'll make a beeline for the treadmill.
But don't count on it.