Above your levelpublished: 2009-09-07
Flamenco season has started and as always: along with classes come insights. I registered for extra classes in technique.
Ten minutes into the class I found myself bent over double, holding my head, trying to win a battle against severe nausea. What happened?
We were to practice twirls and had to do so along the diagonals of the room. Without stopping.
I remember when I was 17. After school, I often went straight to dance classes and was pretty good at twirls. Why? Because I knew how to “spot” and keep firm in my center, my base. This, clearly, is no longer the case.
And so for the remainder of the class all I managed to do was struggle to regain composture and hope for the best. My legs had turned into jelly. I wasn’t even getting any of the footwork right. In fact, I had blocked completely. I felt miserable.
The lesson here? To me as a writer there are two relevant lessons.
Number one: once you’re good at something, it doesn’t mean you can stop practicing.
Number two: sure, challenging yourself is good. You can only improve if you dare step out of your comfort zone. But there’s a limit to how much challenge you can handle. It is of no use to try and achieve something way out of your league. The result will then be: you block. This is exactly what happened while writing the first draft of my current novel. A few weeks ago, I started toning it down. I shifted my focus and have been working hard at getting the base of the story firm, or – if you like – the core muscles. And it seems to be working because finally (it’s been a while) I dare say: I’ve started enjoying writing again.