I’m working out and exercising more, and it’s taught me something. When it comes to writing and workouts: Do it every day. There’s a legitimate connection between human creativity and physical fitness, but I’m not talking about that. Your creativity needs to be exercised every day, too. So if you’re in need of some writing motivation, let’s re-purpose those gym memes into writing memes! The worst writing session is better than no writing session at all. Some days it’s not about publishing or word counts. It’s just therapy.
There’s a neuroscientific connection between fitness and creativity. A study in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience showed that regular exercisers do better on tests of creativity than more sedentary peers. Researchers used two control groups, one that exercised at least four times a week and one who didn’t regularly exercise do a creativity test. Researchers found that the regular exercisers did better on the second task compared with those who didn’t regularly exercise.
‘What if everything I write sucks?’ It doesn’t matter. The worst writing session is better than no writing session at all. Maybe you wrote a hundred lines of pure garbage – look at it in the morning, maybe you’ll think of something that turns the garbage to gold. Just as when you focus on form when learning to lift weights, focusing on the discipline of writing is what gets you started. The weight – and the words – will come in time.
Number of books written does not always equal talent. In thirty-eight years Anthony Trollope published 47 novels, 18 works of non-fiction, 12 short stories, 2 plays, and an assortment of articles and letters. I dare you to name even one title of one book (No Googling).
Writing, like working out, teaches you ‘nothing good comes without work and a certain amount of pain.’ The struggle, the pain of writer’s block? Those aren’t enemies; they’re calls to greatness. As Hemingway said, writers should ‘write about what hurts.’ Psychologists have long held the benefits of writing as therapy. They aren’t kidding, it works.
You cannot raise yourself as a writer by stepping on someone else’s shoulders. When you write, or lift a weight, no one else can take that from you. You did that. People can argue that you didn’t lift enough or someone else wrote better, but they can’t say you didn’t write that. When you get that bar off the floor, or those words onto the page, that will always belong to you. It can only come from yourself, pushing through fear, doubt, and failure to get a little better every time. Mastery of writing, like physical fitness, can only come from the body, the mind, and the heart. Two thousand words is always two thousand words.
So yes, when it comes to writing and workouts: Do it every day. After I publish this, I’ll get back onto Mike Sierra Echo and push myself to finish the rest of Chapter Seven. Yes, it’ll be uncomfortable. Yes, it’ll be worth it. Some days it’s not about publishing or word counts. It’s just therapy. The worst writing session is better than no writing session at all. Two thousand words is always two thousand words.