Skip to main content

Writing is Like ... Weight Lifting

For me, anyway.  Current word count:10,011, so as long as I can get some writing done today I'll be on track!
Disclaimer:  the views expressed on the sites where I get my photos for this post are not necessarily (and sometimes, definitely not) views I agree with or represent.  Be advised, the internet is awash with bro science on the gym in general and weight lifting specifically.

As I discussed last week, I am a fan of extended metaphors.  This week I'm comparing writing with another one of my interests:  Weight Lifting.  Reading this post will not give you traps like Tom Hardy, but it won't make your sore either.
I started lifting in April of 2011.  I'm 5'6" and was about 115 lb at the time.  I was hired on with an EMS service and knew that I had to be able to move patients safely.  Our service requires that we be able to lift 100 lb by ourselves, but that's being optimistic about the weight of our patients.  Texas is 12th in the nation for obese residents, and in my experience that number goes way up for people that call for ambulances.  Moving a patient is nearly always done by two people, and we had manual stretchers when I was first hired, so we had to be able to lift the weight of the stretcher + the patient, which was usually close to 300 lb combined weight, if not over.  All that to say, I knew I was going to hurt a patient, my partner, or myself if I didn't start training.  Today, I'm still 5'6", but I've gained 20 lb and nearly all of that is muscle.  I'm proud of my weight gain, and I'm even more proud of the freedom from fear that my strength gives me.

Enough background.  You came here for a metaphor.

You can do it alone, but it's better with someone else.
This is true all the time in weight lifting, but especially starting out.  Working out alone means you risk injury to yourself, but you also risk stagnation.  The reason to weight lift is to improve your body, whether you are going for strength or hypertrophy.  A buddy can (and will, if they're doing their job) push you farther than you would push yourself.  Having a buddy is also great to help you watch your form, spot you on the heavy stuff, and encourage you when you're really not feeling it.  However, there is always the danger that gym time will turn into social hour.  
Elizabeth Briggs
The same is true in writing.  I'm not advocating group work here, but support of fellow writers.  Writing alone can put you in a depressing mental place.  Find some writer buddies to encourage you and cheer you on, to push you to push yourself, and to tell you, nicely, when you're off-base. Although also beware of socializing when you are supposed to be writing.

You won't get better unless you practice, eat, and rest.
Actually lifting is important to see gains, but as the Hodge twins will be quick to tell you, so is what you are doing in the rest of your life.  Nutrition, hydration, and recovery time are all vital to make what you're doing at the gym worth it.
Democrat & Chronicle
The same is true with writing.  The healthier you life is outside of writing, the more your writing will benefit.  I did a handy dandy blog post on this last year.

You can spend all your time doing things associated with it and read everything the internet has to say about it, but if you aren't actually doing the work, you're only doing yourself a disservice.
All Things Gym
As I alluded to earlier, there are a ton of resources on the internet for those interested in weight lifting.  Some of this information is great, others should be expunged from the face of the planet.  That aside, all of the information and the feel good "Ya, bro" talks won't help you if you don't ever bend over and pick something up.
(BTW I know this dog and his owner!) Seriously, though, I fall into this trap.  I listened to all the episodes of the Writing Excuses podcast in a row, all the way back to the beginning.  It took me four months, and I didn't write because I was "learning about writing."  Way to miss the freaking point of the podcast, Madeline.

There is playing to your strengths, and then there is ignoring your weaknesses.
This is a bit of a joke around the internet gym community, but if you spend time around the racks in a gym, you'll come to find out what a reality this is.  Everyone is working towards an illusionary ideal body, and some would rather work with their genetic potential than against it.  I applaud this in principle, but I think its important to consider what the goal is when a person decides that upper body is the only thing that matters.  If your goal is to look like the guy above, congrats, and I wish you well.  If your goal is to just "get bigger," consider that your legs (for the average human) are close to half your mass.  That's half your body you're ignoring because "leg day sucks."  /rant
Anne Rossi
NaNoWriMo can develop and even encourage the bad habit of always composing and never editing.  I have struggled with this as well and as a result I've done a smashing job of coming up with ideas for novels and a half-assed job of anything else after I finally get to "The End."  Mur Lafferty was featured on Rocket Talk this week and she spoke to this issue really well.  Editing isn't the only weakness, that's just one that I struggle with.  Anything you would rather ignore in the writing process is a weakness of yours.

One bad day doesn't mean you're broken.
Okay this is more than just "a bad day," and if something like this happens you should definitely seek medical attention.  But bad days at the gym happen to everyone.  I had no problem squatting 145 lb x5 one day and the next I can't hit my depth on a single one.  Bad days don't mean that you suck, they mean something else is going on that's keeping you from performing your best, whether it's diet, sleep, or life outside the gym that won't shut up in your head.  On days like this, it's best to do what you can and go home.  You can come back to the gym when you're fresh and tackle that weight again.
Everyone screws up.  Some do it in minor ways, others fail with flying colors. Screwing up doesn't mean you're a terrible writer.  That doesn't happen until you refuse to learn from your mistakes and bury yourself in your ideals because there is no possible way you could be wrong.

Benefits outweigh the costs.
I really don't think I can add much more to this after that photo, but I'll try.  Everyone starts somewhere.  As long as you're doing things right, you will only improve.
Yes there is pain and suffering and blood and hysteria, but at the end, there is a story.  And that's why we're here, to tell stories.


Popular posts from this blog

Non-Traditional Plot Structure

Happy Friday friends!  This post is about plot:  what we traditionally think of as plot, and what other options exist in the world.

For starters, let's define the difference between plot and narrative structure.  Plot is (loosely) the events that happen in the story.  Narrative structure is the order readers experience the story events.  Ingrid Sundberg does a good job of differentiating the two here.  (May as well open that up in a new tab and leave it open, I'm going to be referencing her blog a lot today.  She's pretty much already done what I wanted to do with this post.)

If your public education was like mine, you were probably introduced to a figure similar to this somewhere in your English classes:
This is the standard plot that we can fit most stories into.  This describes a plot centered around conflict that follows a traditional three-act structure.  It's very popular.  In the Middle reviews a book that discusses using this structure as a form for your story, an…

February Post

Give me a break, I hate coming up with titles.

And the FCC spoke and said, 'Verily, I say unto thee, Verizon and their ilk shall not throttle the bandwidth of those they despise, nor shall they profit from the favoring of entities with greater bandwidth therein.' And there was great rejoicing.  And by great rejoicing, I mean that the internet blew up arguing about what color a dress was.  You go, America, exercise that freedom.

Girls and boys, it's the last Friday in February and I haven't posted anything this month, so here goes.

I'm so glad I didn't try to keep posting weekly, because school owns my life nowadays.  I approve of the once-a-month plan so far.  We'll see if I can do more posts during my summer break (i.e. the month of May).

As you might have guessed, I have not done any editing on Om Nom Nombies.  I haven't written anything more on the first drafts of The Neif or Spitfire.  I haven't even made any progress beta-ing a manuscript for m…

12 Ways Wonder Woman Was Actually An Anime

Clickbait title?  Riding the coattails of a hugely successful franchise?


So, Wonder Woman has been insanely successful.  It had some cool stuff going on but was not my favorite movie.  I had several problems with it, mostly happening after Diana leaves Themyscira.  But I'm going to put most of them aside to talk about why Wonder Woman was actually an anime, despite being live action, full of white people, and made by 'Merica.

I'm working on the assumption that you've seen anime before in a quantity sufficient to familiarize yourself with its tropes, so I'm not going to go into detail about why these are tropes and how long they've been around.  Also going to assume you've seen Wonder Woman and not going to worry about whether I'm spoiling anything for you.

Blessed From Birth
From birth Diana is special.  She's the only child on her island and basically does whatever she wants.
Like lots of chosen ones.

Accidental Boob Grab
Okay, that's…