Tuesday, July 27, 2010

3 Things the Alps Can Teach Us About Writing

This morning I woke up in my Alpine apartment and could hardly walk. After two days of solid hiking in the Alps, I was desperate to do at least one more hike. I went to the grocery store and bought a band-aid for my blister. But halfway to the lift station, I had to turn around. My foot hurt too much. The day before I had hiked over 7 hours. The day before that, over 4.

Which brings me to my writing. In hiking as in writing, I often push myself to the extremes. I need to work on pacing myself. So this week, no writing. And less hiking now too...

Here are a few things I've learned so far in the Alps.

1. Be patient. The fog will lift. You just have to wait. Maybe an hour. Maybe two days. The same goes for writer's block. Don't have a solution to a problem? Take a break. Wait it out. The answer will come. The fog will clear.

2. Pace yourself. A seven-hour hike one day may mean you can barely walk the next. Writing too much can be hazardous too. Last fall, I couldn't type for a week after working too much at my computer.

3. One step at a time. Yesterday I hiked to the bottom of the Aletsch Glacier. But then I had to hike back up. Over 300 meters up. It looked daunting. Until I stopped looking up and started looking across. Yes, with writing too, it's good to have a final goal. But if you don't take the steps in between, you'll never make it. You'll only dream it. That's why when I'm working on a book, I only write 1,000 words a day. One word at a time.

What has a summer vacation taught you about writing?


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