Tuesday, January 30, 2007

In training

For a little while on Sunday morning, my husband and I were watching Federer and Gonzalez play in the Australian Open. I love to watch tennis, and I'm always amazed by the sheer athleticism of the players. Even beyond the skill required to ace a serve or put the right amount of spin on a backhand shot, the sport demands an incredible amount of strength and endurance. It's just you out there for as many sets as it takes to play the game. Imagine the training involved.

I feel the same way when I watch golf on TV. It's a different sport and it's played at a much different pace. But as I watch players focus on sinking their putts, I consider all the practice shots they've made in preparation. I think of them getting up every morning and practicing golf.

The point? Poetry! (Oh, to get up every morning and write and read—and not for five or ten minutes, but for an hour or two.) If you want to rise to the top of your game, if you want to reach your peak potential, how do you train?

Answers might include school certification and MFA programs. But I'm thinking more on a daily or weekly level. What do you do? What do you have time to do when you want to achieve maximum creative fitness?

Inspired by a golf tournament, I tried for a couple of years to have what I thought was a pretty well-rounded regime. It included free writes, writing new poems, revising poems, reading poems, reading about writing, and sending poems out. When I type it up, it doesn't sound like a lot, but I could almost never complete a full circuit in one day.

I also tried to institute "writing Sundays," which worked mostly well for about two months. I'm about to try again.

In the meantime, I'm down to the free writes, not nearly enough reading, and whatever else I can manage. I need to get back on track with a harder workout (and you'd think that January would be a fine month for writing exercise—all that grim weather).

How are you working out?

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