Making the commitment to writing a book is very similar to committing 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 out 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 end goal. Is it weight loss, to get in shape, improve energy, 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 week. How long will it take you to reach your goal of a finished first draft manuscript?

Gather Equipment

Workout: You need tools. Find a good pair of sneakers for your activity of choice and comfortable, breathable clothes. 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 warm up your muscles with a 5-minute stretch and 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 the outline, the chapter topics, the introduction, a specific chapter, the character profiles? Sweating here is the equivalent of getting into the zone so that the words 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 the 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 of the types of exercise, cardio, involves activities that repeat sequences of light to moderate intensity over a sustained period of time. Think running, tennis, rowing or dance. It can be quick and intense on some days like with HIIT, or slower and more sustained such as running a few miles. Both with allow your body to burn fat efficiently over time and increase your energy levels.

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 set you back from your goals. Stretching out the muscles and returning back to a normal heart rate after a set of physical activity 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 getting down all of your ideas, you will want to fix things, move things, rework and delete things. 

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 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. You will notice things when you come back later that you did not see when you were writing.

Summary

The steps to follow to dedicate yourself to a successful and rewarding writing routine are very similar to those of a workout 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 begin to look forward to the next day and find yourself getting into a groove. With a workout, you start getting into shape, seeing your body change, and gain energy. With writing, you begin to feel better about what you’re writing, get new ideas faster, 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 writing 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 Meick – writer, author, and creator of Writers’ Connection.

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