What Working Out Can Teach Writers – Part I

What Working Out Can Teach Writers - By Diana Anderson-Tyler

 

Hello, my bookish friends!

I hope this blog post finds you and your work-in-progress well! I’m still neck-deep in editing mire, where I’m afraid I’ll be for several more months as I polish my very first trilogy.[1] I finished Book One nearly a year ago, but I’m honestly in no rush to publish. I’m querying agents while simultaneously going ahead with professional edits and cover design for the purpose of submitting it to Kindle Scout.[2] I’ll post the final cover plus the novel’s summary in an upcoming post!

A few months ago, the lovely Nadia King interviewed me on her blog, and I jotted down one of her questions as a reminder to write more about it one day. Well, now that my Unstoppable Writer series has come to a close, today’s that day! This was her question:

 Are there any similarities between working towards fitness goals and writing?

My answer? A resounding YES!:

“Both [fitness and writing] require loads of self-discipline, and both are synergistic. What I mean by ‘synergistic’ is that the strength I gain through completing a difficult workout session translates over to my writing sessions, and vice versa. Conquering obstacles of any kind, whether it’s lifting a heavy barbell or meeting a daily word-count goal, creates mental toughness, which is an asset in life, no matter what you’re pursuing!”

But that’s just one example of how fitness and writing complement one another and work together to strengthen my attitude and mindset. There are several more I’d like to explore in this series, starting with the following lesson:

Start Today

Generally speaking, starting is the hardest part of just about everything.

Starting a new job, a new school, a new diet. Starting life in a new city. Learning a new skill, a new language, a new sport. Traveling to a new place and getting to know total strangers. The only easy thing I can think of is falling in love and starting a brand-new relationship, but even then, the sweet, starry-eyed simplicity doesn’t last for long!

Starting new things is difficult because it forces us out of our comfort zones, places most human beings prefer to be at all times.

We’re safe there. We feel at home.

There are very few, if any, surprises to throw us off kilter.

There’s little risk of failure because we’ve already found a level of success we’ve proven sustainable.

There’s also no pain – whether physical, mental, or emotional – in our comfort zones; they’re cozy bubbles of complacency and, let’s face it, mediocrity.

 

Comfort Zone quote via Diana Anderson-Tyler

 

While we don’t often get hurt inside our comfort zones, neither do we grow and progress.

To me, the gym is one giant metaphor for comfort zones. Every day that I step foot in it, I’m presented with one choice: Push myself to new limits, or settle for what’s unfrightening and familiar.

Even though I’ve been working out for a while (14 years, to be exact), the temptation to take it easy is still there, but the temptation to quit altogether? I haven’t faced that punk in years!

Starting a fitness routine is hard. It’s hard because it’s a start, because it’s a break-away from the status quo of laziness, excuse-making, legitimate busyness, or whatever else might have been holding us back.

But once we make the commitment to seriously pursue and prioritize exercise, the resistance toward going to the gym begins to fade until one day, we actually look forward to working out.

 

“Most of us have two lives: the life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.” – Steven Pressfield

 

Starting to write a book, though not a physical challenge (although it’s often just as draining as running or lifting weights!), is just as difficult to begin as working out. Again, this is because it punctures a hole in the side of our beloved bubble of comfort. There are myriad questions racing around in our heads: How do I even begin to write a novel? Do I outline, or just dive in? How many words do I need to write a day? How many pages should my novel be? How many points of view should I use? When do I start querying agents? Do I even want an agent? How do I publish if I don’t?

Those are just a tiny fraction of the questions I asked myself when I started writing my first novel,  Moonbow, back in 2013. I also asked myself: What if this book gets terrible reviews? What if only my mom and husband read it? What if I’m not ready to write a novel? Should I read a few more craft books or invest in a few online courses or conferences first?

 

 

I didn’t know it at the time, but all that question-asking was nothing more than procrastination. I was anxious about venturing into the unknown and experiencing the feeling of what I’m calling “newbie-itis.”

I had been writing screenplays and nonfiction fitness books for several years. I was comfortable with those forms of writing; I didn’t want to be a newbie. I wasn’t looking forward to the awkward orientation stages wherein I fall on my face countless times and make all my rookie mistakes.

 

“Those who write are writers. Those who wait are waiters.” – A. Lee Martinez

 

Had I known that taking the first step (getting my butt in the chair and writing the first few pages) would liberate me to continue taking more and more until writing became something I loved rather than feared, I know I would’ve started a heck of a lot sooner.

And that is why I’m writing this today. Don’t wait another second to start. I promise that once you begin, you’ll feel as though a heavy yoke’s been lifted off your shoulders. You’ll be rewarded with an unparalleled surge of satisfaction as you conquer the foe of procrastination/fear/doubt/you name it that’s fooled you into believing you’re not ready.

Do you have a passion and a story burning inside of you?

If yes, then you’re ready.

That spark is more than enough to carry your dream from conception to fulfillment.

 

“That’s the tension you’ll have to face. You have to work incredibly hard on your start. You have to be deliberate and intentional and focused. You have to be a Starter.” – Jon Acuff

 

I hope you’ve found this post encouraging or helpful in some way! You can reach out to me with questions, comments, funny memes, or friendly greetings on Twitter and Instagram!

Diana Anderson-Tyler writing blog

[1] Editing is my second least favorite part of the writing process; my absolute least favorite is marketing!

[2] And, of course, for the purpose of self-publishing if I don’t get representation.

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