Lessons in Writing and Wellness

Steamy tea on a cold NOLA day. Taken 2015 February 24 by Jessica Marie Johnson

Steamy tea on a cold NOLA day. Taken 2015 February 24 by Jessica Marie Johnson

Today I forced myself to go back to Crossfit. My shoulder press maxed out at 60…which I discovered when I failed trying to get to 65.

I hate that feeling. Shaky arms, pure weakness. The coach shrugged it off. “Everybody fails. If you’re doing it right, you’re going to fail.” That’s the point of maxing out.

I didn’t find out until the end of class that 60 is my new overall max. Apparently I’d maxed out at 45 a week ago and forgotten. I’d gone up 15 lbs without realizing it!

Now flip the coin….

Today I forced myself to start a section of the book I didn’t think I was ready to start. In fact, I know I wasn’t ready. I found myself back in the (hard drive) archive and consulting books I thought I’d memorized ten years ago just to get a paragraph down.

I failed trying to hit my word count. And I hate that feeling too. My brain gets shaky, my ability to bring the narrative together gets weaker and weaker until it all collapses in on itself.

I didn’t find out until now, at the end of my day, after a relaxing bout with FOX’s Empire, that I didn’t fail. I wrote brand new material that I never would have thought of if I hadn’t challenged myself to try a new angle on writing the history of woc and NOLA. I think it’s failure because I may never use it. But if I hadn’t written it, I would never know. And now my new max, a paragraph or two of fresh words, fresh narrative on completely uncharted territory, is a goal I can shoot for regardless of whether it ever becomes part of the book. I will use it or I won’t. But it can’t grow until I plant the seed.

A bit of a rant-post just to celebrate failure and all the good things that might arise from it, and to recognize all the ways my writing walks hand in hand with my self care and my personal health.

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