How Writing Is Like Exercising

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The cell phone alarm beeps me into consciousness at 5:20 am. Yes, it’s o-dark-thirty and I’m waking up to go to spin class. Why? That’s a great question. Every day I ask myself the same thing.

Spinning is the equivalent of being forced to walk uphill for sixty miles, through the two feet of snow, barefoot.

Circuit training is on the days when I don’t spin. Lifting weights is like, well, lifting weights. They’re heavy. ‘Nuff said.

Writing is a lot like working out. I love it, and I hate it. It’s difficult to get started, but I feel much better when I’ve done it. Like exercising, writing is a discipline.

Here are some things I’ve discovered through my writing journey:

It takes time. When I began writing in 2008, I didn’t know ‘come here’ from ‘sic-em.’ I needed to learn the craft, study, and practice. Getting better is a long discipline. As in life, I didn’t put on the twenty-five pounds overnight, so they aren’t going to burn away in a year.

It takes a tribe. There’s a core group of women who go to the same gym I do. We encourage each other when we’re flagging, we nag each other into coming back, we follow up when someone has missed more than a couple of days. A few years ago, I discovered the Inspire Christian Writers critique group that meets in Sacramento. We not only help spur one another to be better writers, we’ve become close friends.

It takes discipline. Some writers like word count goals, others page or chapter goals. I write a little differently. I sit down at my computer almost every night, setting my timer for twenty minutes. When the timer dings, I get up and stretch, or get a snack. Then I set the timer for another twenty minutes. Often I’ll find myself ignoring the timer. When I feel like I’m done for the night, I’m done. Sometimes I only write for that first twenty minutes. It’s the same with working out. Without the drive to get healthy, lose weight, or stay fit, it doesn’t happen with discipline.

It takes a good instructor. My spin and workout instructor tells me when I’m lifting incorrectly. He helps me make subtle adjustments to my posture. He reminds me to keep my shoulders down when I’m on the spin bike. In writing, it’s crucial to read books on the craft. Writing conferences are a fabulous place to learn from the best of the best. Take notes, make one-on-one appointments, and make the adjustments so that you can improve and grow.

How do you stay motivated to write every day? Join the conversation in our comments section.

JaneJane Daly is the author of Because of Grace (Hallway Publishing, Feb. 2015). She lives in Citrus Heights with her husband, Mike, and a very spoiled cat named Phoebe. Jane writes fiction and nonfiction.