Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Writing and Exercising

So, recently, I have been on task with my writing. I've written every single day during these past ten days, and for nine of them, met that writing goal. It’s a great feeling. And it led me to a question:

This feels great, why am I not doing this every day?

I realized that this is the same question I ask right after exercising. And it occurred to me that the two are remarkable similar. Which means that the answer to the question is the same for both. And here it is.

It’s hard and it’s not fun doing it.

Yes, that’s right, fellow writers; I’m saying that writing is not fun. And I stand by that, it’s not.

Let’s stick with the exercise for a moment. Exercise is hard. It requires a lot of movement, first off. Let’s all be honest. Given the choice of running around the block in sweat pants or sitting on the couch watching Doctor Who in sweat pants, which would you choose? I know what my choice is. Running is hard. Especially for me, as I am not in good shape. And it’s not fun while doing it. I run out of breath, I sweat up a storm. The same goes for when I work out in the gym on the weight machines. My muscles hurt. My face get’s red, and I grunt and moan as I try to breath during the workout.

In fact, exercising is so much not fun that I bring along my phone to play audio books while I work out, just to have a little entertainment value. Otherwise, I wouldn’t do it at all. Probably.

But, when I’m done exercising, I feel great. I’m awake, my blood is pumping, and I’m filled with endorphins. Sure, I may be a little sore, but it’s a good feeling. It means my muscles are growing. It means I have a goal to reach, for that day when this same workout will not leave me sore.

The same is true for writing. Given the choice of sitting at my computer and banging out words on a blank document, or sitting on the couch watching Doctor Who, again, I know what I’d rather choose.

And like exercise, writing is not fun. It’s a lot of hard work. Picking the right words, putting them in the right order, following an outline, or just winging it. There’s a lot of moments of frustration during the actual process of writing, at least for me. I write a sentence and then look at it and thing “man, that sucks. It took me ten minutes to write down those seven words, and they suck.” And they do. And sometimes, I fix them, and sometimes I move on, because it took me twenty minutes to get those seven sucky words down, and it’s just the best I can do.

I grunt and moan and sweat my way through each word, each sentence, each paragraph, each scene. But when it’s done, when I’ve hit my word count goal for the day, I feel great. I’ve accomplished something, and even though parts of it suck, most of it is pretty good. I’m flush with endorphins. And just like exercise, sometimes, I’m sore. Not physically, maybe, but my brain hurt from stretching it to find a proper resolution to that scene, or how to get myself out of that corner I wrote myself into. And just like exercising, I know that my goal is to write until I don’t feel that soreness anymore.

And in both cases, I wonder “why don’t I do this every day? I feel great!”

That’s because at that moment, I forget how hard it was to start. To even just get dressed in my sweat pants, or sit my ass down in front of my keyboard.

Writing is hard work, and not a lot of fun. But in the end, it is so, so worth it. Because in the end, I feel better than I did when I started.


  1. Chris you nailed it here! That is exactly why I don't write sometimes anymore. It isn't because I don't enjoy it, it is because it is hard. And sometimes I just don't want to deal with hard things, but when I do I feel so much better about myself and everything going on in my life. Thanks for this post.

  2. Ah, so true! Both writing and exercising require a long-view approach, which I think we're biologically not wired for. I suppose the key in both is to find and treasure those "I feel great afterward" moments, enough to recall them when you're in the painful slogging-through time. For me, I know that's easier when exercising than when writing (I'm guessing because I feel more productive when I'm moving than when I'm sitting in front of a screen).