On Being Sidelined

About a month ago, I developed a mysterious foot injury. I went for a 5 mile run, and was feeling good. But that evening, the outside bottom of my foot near the heel was aching. I had no idea what had happened, but it hurt. I gave it a little over a week, and tried to run again. No dice. So I decided to stay off it for longer. I didn’t think it would bug me…after all, I had spent the first 30 plus years of my life NOT running. I had no idea it was going to be so hard.

The exhilaration, the feeling of accomplishment, that good tired in your muscles that tells you you gave everything today…I missed it all. And as a result, I came to the most shocking realization….

I like to run.

Whoah. Being sidelined wasn’t a total loss, because I realized something important. And in contemplating that, I also realized that being on the sideline has felt like a bit of a theme for me right now.

In my writing life, I have found myself lacking creative oomph. I can devise marketing plans, make lists of industry blogs to read, or answer interview questions, but I am struggling to actually create. I am quite certain that there is something for me to learn here as well, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not itching to get back into the game.

So how do we get off the DL?  With running, when my foot stopped hurting, I thought I could pick up where I had left off. Not so. The problem now is mental. I have become tenative. I can’t run without wondering what every tiny pang or twinge might mean. I have to battle the thought, “What if I can’t ever run like I did before?”

In writing, there are similar challenges. When I sit down to write, I have to fight through the “injury.” I wonder, when I struggle to put my ideas on paper, what that means. I have to battle the question, “What if I never have another creative thought…ever?”

I guess this is where I thank Nike, because the conclusion I have come to is that I have to just get out there and do it.

Run, even if it’s slow and ugly.

Write, even if it’s slow and ugly.

Turn off that internal voice that throws all kinds of ridiculous scenarios at us, each amounting to, “you can’t do it!”

In our house, we call that internal voice, “Fred.” We named him one day when our daughter, Lucy, was in tears during her guitar practice.  Phrases like, “I’ll never learn it!” and “I’m terrible at this!” were flowing. And my husband, in a moment of genius, named that negative voice and called him out. Now, when Fred is around, we talk back to him.  We tell him to go away. We let him know that we don’t believe him. We send him on vacation to Australia or Michigan, or wherever my silly kids happen to think of that night. We laugh as we banish him to the ends of the earth, but it helps our kids recognize an extremely important thing. Fred is NOT in charge. He is NOT the boss of you. He does NOT get a vote.

So listen up, Freddie.

Here’s the thing.

I’m tired of being on the sidelines. So I’m going to write. And I’m going to run.  Because I LIKE IT, and now that I know that I LIKE IT, there’s no stopping me.

As for you, I hear South America is nice this time of year…

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  • http://www.melissawrites.com.au/ Melissa

    Please don’t send Fred down to Australia… we don’t want him here 😉
    Great post – funny, I have the same problem with my foot right now, and my writing!

    • http://amydixonbooks.com/ Amy Dixon

       Funny, but for some reason the kids have really latched on to the idea of Fred going to Australia! We’ll have to get out a map and expand our options a little!

  • Nicky

    Ah, the old Fred giving others grief. We have a Mr Worrythoughts in our house – but he can change his name and become disguised in a variety of ways. Pesky fellow loves to make you feel unworthy! I am with you Amy…GO AWAY FRED (AKA MR WORRYTHOUGHTS)!

    • http://amydixonbooks.com/ Amy Dixon

       Ooooh, Mr. Fred Worrythoughts. Love it!

  • Traxelr

    Stupid Fred.  

    • http://amydixonbooks.com/ Amy Dixon


  • http://designofthepicturebook.com Carter Higgins

    Three cheers to slow and ugly!!

    • http://amydixonbooks.com/ Amy Dixon

      I tend to cheer a little louder when my writing comes out quick and beautiful, but I’ll take what I can get :-)

  • Mirka

    DD is getting me to run, and if you knew me, you’d realize what a feat that is. I’ll never run a marathon, but if I ever just like it the way I just love writing first drafts I’ll remember your post here and raise a glass of soymilk to it.
    And Fred? Get sassy with him and tell him where to go {running}.

    • http://amydixonbooks.com/ Amy Dixon

      Yay, Mirka! So glad you are getting out there. Careful now, I said I would never run long distances either, and guess who is signed up for a half-marathon in October? Make sure you update us, would love to know how it is going!

  • Tina Cho

    I like your running/writing analogies! I’m sort of in that boat, too. Creativity is a little stuck. “Get away from me, Fred!”

    • http://amydixonbooks.com/ Amy Dixon

      Thanks, Tina. Sometimes I wonder if the running/writing parallels get a little old, but I can’t help seeing them! 

  • Dad

    Well said Amy!  I view Fred as the adversity that eventually makes us better, but we definitely don’t want Fred living with us!  I can tell you a lot about slow and ugly right now with my own passion (guitar).

    • http://amydixonbooks.com/ Amy Dixon

       Thanks, Dad! Yes, working through the Fred issue I think is important too, and does make us better. And sheesh, your guitar playing is anything but ugly!

  • http://susannahill.blogspot.com/ Susanna Leonard Hill

    What a great post, Amy!  All so true.  I’m having a heck of a time with Fred myself these days and there are a lot of moments when it feels like he’s moved into the office/guest bedroom to stay.  But thanks to you I’m going to show him the door right now :)

    • http://amydixonbooks.com/ Amy Dixon

       Thank you, Susanna! We try so hard to teach our kids how to deal with things and then are smacked in the face with the reality that we are adults and still don’t have it figured out! If I can just remember even half the time that Fred is not the boss of me, I would do much better :-)

  • Terilove

    I loved this post. Read it before I took a trip to visit family that included an intimidating hike. Down with Fred! Thanks for your inspiration! And keep on keeping up the writing!!!

    • http://amydixonbooks.com/ Amy Dixon

       Thanks, Teri! I am always inspired by you and your running committment!

  • Dorina Gilmore

    I love your running analogy. I can relate to this post both on a running and writing level. Most of all I love that you made me laugh out loud and think about what I would name my “Fred.” Maybe Frida? 😉