More boxing and writing analogies. The first time I punched someone in the face I stopped and said I was sorry.Dont apologize! my trainer, Eric, screamed from the corner, Hit him again. He had to toughen me up. The weird thing is that I had been in a few brawls before, had punched someone in the face and not thought twice about it. It was a horrible racist skinhead and he deserved it by the way, but for some reason the ring breeds ladies and gentlemen. All of the guys and gals I met at the gym went out of their way to avoid a fight even though they had hands like concrete hams and the skills to administer a beating to anyone. They were among the gentlest people I have ever met.
Eric had this thing he made me do every training session called the three minute drill. Basically he held up the training pads, braced his legs and stood there while I punched away for 180 long and excruciating seconds. Sound easy? It wasn’t. Try just holding your hands up level with the tops of your ears for three minutes. Now imagine having to jab punches while ducking blows and dancing around in a circle. It was exhausting but it was also pretty cool. After six months or so I could keep up a steady barrage of punches for three minutes or more and I’d learned to lose my breath and recover it quickly; learned how to slow down my breathing so that I could keep going for longer.
I do this thing sometimes especially when I’m stuck at a part of the story and it seems like it’s going nowhere. I sit down and just type, letting whatever words and sentences just sort of flow from my brain onto the page without editing, without worrying about grammar, spelling, typos or punctuation, and I just let my characters speak and the direction of the plot take whatever course it wants to take, and I do this for ten minutes or ten pages. Whatever it takes to loosen me up. It works best at night when I’m tired and my mind wanders. I sometimes call it spewing. And at the end of it I sit back and see what there is to see. It kind of reminds me of the three minute drill. A sort of barrage, where something besides my brain takes over and I’m free to just write down whatever. It’s curiously exhilarating. And quite often I end up with something new that I can use. Even if I don’t, at least I’m writing.