Making the commitment to writing a book is very similar to dedicating yourself to a workout routine. Whether you want to write a book or you want to get in shape and be healthy, both efforts benefit from a phased approach and plan to achieve a goal. Writing a book will make you an author. Sweating to a workout regimen will result in a healthier you, a desired weight goal, and an improved physique. Both have real results that you can measure and see. This article will draw comparisons between the two, step-by-step.
The Time Commitment
Workout: Decide on your fitness goal. Is it weight loss, to get in shape, improve energy or learn a new skill like pilates or barre? Consider joining a fitness class or set a workout plan that you will follow each week until you reach that desired goal.
Writing: Decide that you want to write a book. Determine what that book will be about, the genre, any word count goal and a writing schedule per day and per week. How long will it take you to reach your goal of a finished first draft manuscript?
Workout: You need tools. Find a good pair of sneakers for your activity of choice and comfortable, breathable clothes. Do you have weights, stretch bands or other fitness equipment? Get a bottle of water, a mat, maybe headphones and access to media for video instruction if you are not going to a gym.
Writing: You will need some things to get going on your book. A computer or tablet to write with, notebooks and pens if you prefer. A voice recorder for backup. Writing software of your choice. A comfortable chair and table or desk to sit and write at for periods of time.
Warm Up and Break a Sweat
Workout: Slowly wake up your muscles with a 5-minute warm up to get moving. Get the blood flowing, think about your goal for the workout and get excited to sweat.
Writing: Get your space ready with good temperature, sound and light. Sit down and practice writing a few words and thoughts, maybe participate in a writing sprint to warm up your brain and imagination. Think about your goal for this writing session. Is it to write an outline, the chapter topics, the introduction, a specific chapter or the character profiles? Sweating here is the equivalent of getting into the zone so that the words start to come easy with minimal thought.
Weight Training, Build Muscle
Workout: Weight-bearing exercises allow you to make physical gains by working opposing muscle groups on different days. Hitting all the body parts each week, including arms, legs, glutes, chest, back and abs, will eventually build overall lean muscle and allow you to burn fat faster.
Writing: This is where you make writing gains in your book by fleshing out the different parts of your story. You can work on different parts at different times and on different days. It doesn’t have to be sequential as long as you hit all sections of the manuscript such as plot, setting, character creation, world building, conflict and resolution. The muscle of your story moves it forward and makes it work, brings it alive.
Cardio, Burn Fat
Workout: One type of exercise, cardio, involves activities that repeat sequences of light to moderate intensity over a sustained period of time. Think running, tennis, rowing, or dancing. It can be quick and intense on some days like with HIIT, or slower and more sustained, such as walking a few miles. Both with allow your body to burn fat efficiently over time and increase your energy levels. Use a fitness watch to track your progress in minutes, miles, calories burned, and to motivate.
Writing: Sustained writing over a period of time is similar to a cardio workout. Set a time limit and get going, pushing forward steadily until you reach a goal of time or word count or writing a section of pages or a chapter. You can even do more intense, shorter timed sprints. The editing process is a lot like burning the fat, cutting out words, minimizing long descriptions and dialogue and tightening up the story, giving it better shape and form.
Cool Down and Stretch
Workout: This is arguably the most important step in a workout and skipping the cool down and stretch may have negative effects and even set you back from reaching your goals. Stretching out the muscles and returning back to a normal heart rate after a set of physical activity allows your body to recover and sets you up for your next routine.
Writing: Take a step back and see what you’ve written, catch your breath, and identify any areas that need additional work. Think about what you have accomplished and what you want to tackle next. The goal is a finished first draft, which is a work in progress. After writing down all of your ideas, you will want to fix things, move things, rework, and delete things. Take the time to stretch your thoughts and plan out your next steps.
Rest Days and Recovery
Workout: Another crucial step in a workout routine is the down time. Your body needs to reset and rest before getting back at it. You will be stronger for it. It is usually one day off in a week, maybe two in between intense workout days. If you don’t take the time to rest, you risk burning out and can stop making gains because of overusing your muscles or getting dehydrated and exhausted.
Writing: No one can keep writing full speed ahead all of the time. Breaks are the time you need to mentally reset, rest, and recharge. Walk away and come back later with a fresh set of eyes and ideas. Take a day or weekend off if you are stuck or spinning your wheels for new ideas. You will notice things when you come back later that you did not see when you were writing and this can help you branch off into new directions with your story.
The steps to follow to dedicate yourself to a successful and rewarding workout regimen are very similar to those of a writing routine. Both can be challenging and intimidating to start and a little painful in the beginning, but once you get used to a routine you will start adapting. You may find yourself looking forward to the next day and getting into a groove. With a workout, you start getting into shape, seeing your body change and gain energy. With writing, you get the words written down, begin to feel better about what you’re writing, get new ideas faster and begin to experience adrenaline as you push forward and realize that you can do this and that writing is good for your soul. Developing a routine for either effort is important and takes a little time, but once you get going you’ll be thrilled with the results. Push beyond your comfort zone and you will be surprised where you can go with consistency. No matter your passion, get plenty of sleep, eat well, take vitamins, get fresh air, and take lots of breaks!
Article written by Anne M. Carroll