Monday, May 22, 2006
The Exercise of Writing
And no, I'm not going to whip out a writing exercise like Instigator. I promise. :)
Actually, I was thinking last night about how many ways writing is like exercise. I had a lot of time to think last night because our power went out. I spent some time rocking Little Man by candlelight after thunder woke him from his usually deep sleep.
But for me, there are many correlations between writing and exercise. People who've never tried to write with publication as a goal don't understand this. But I'm sure all you published and aspiring writers out there do.
Ways Writing is Like Exercise:
1. Just like exercise does a lot of good for your body--strengthening bones, building muscle, working your heart--so writing does a lot of good for your mind. Every writing session builds those writing muscles, expanding your ability to endure, to focus, and to create. Increasing activity keeps your mind on the story, training your mind to "see" the characters, "hear" the dialogue, and translate the pictures into words.
2. Just like exercise builds balance in our lives between activity and inactivity, so writing allows us to take care of ourselves as well as others. I'm sure this doesn't just apply to Moms, but I know that writing has helped keep me in touch with me during the sometimes overwhelming demands of my daily grind. I have to schedule time to be creative. Get out of the house so I can write without interruptions or the whisperings of a dirty house. Find a baby sitter so I can attend meetings and workshops. And in doing so, I honor my dreams.
3. Just like I have to force myself to get off my behind and move, many times I have to force myself to insert butt in chair and write. Especially when I'm just starting a book or have hit a snag. When everything is flowing (you know what I mean), life is wonderful and writing is easy. Let the flow dry up and writing can be torture. But the only way to start the stream again is to, well, write. In that way, writing becomes a discipline. One with rewards beyond the obvious, rewards I don't know if I could describe to someone who doesn't have the need to write.
4. Just like exercise quickly falls to the wayside when life gets busy, so writing often gets put on the backburner in times of chaos. At least for me it does. Of course, I don't have the joy and burden of a deadline. The urgent things often get the most of my attention. But I'm learning how to get back on the wagon. By the way, my husband will attest to the fact that I don't view dishes or laundry as urgent.
5. The rewards are proven. For exercise, this might be obvious. With writing, it might be a little harder. Sure, we can see the hundreds upon thousands of books on the bookstore shelves. But if you aren't published, are the results as satisfying? Well, I'm not going to lie and say that seeing my name on the front of a book on that bookstore shelf wouldn't be one of the biggest thrills of my life. But there are other rewards. The joy in finally realizing what I am: a writer. The excitement of plotting a new book or story, with all the possibilities that come with it. The satisfaction of writing THE END. The pride in submitting a work I'm not embarrassed to let someone besides myself see. And to be honest, those rewards beat exercise hands down. :)
So, what will you get off your behind and work on this Monday morning?