Writing is Like Exercise

This may seem obvious, but I was thinking today about how much writing is like physical exericse, really exhausting. I shy away from it the way I shy away from doing the elliptical and going for yoga—beause it’s a lot of hard work. Each sentence is like a math problem for me. Making my brain search for the right words is difficult, like doing a math problem, and it wears me out. After three solid hours of writing (which takes me five, because I use a stop watch and stop it every time I take a break to check e-mail, take a Warfish turn (more on that later), or get up to get something to eat or drink), I am depleted. I feel like I’ve been to the gym, although without the endorphin high I get from working out. So I’ve finally realized that a lot of my resistance to writing isn’t about a fear of failure or a fear of success—it’s about fear of long hours of hard work. Knowing that makes it easier to plug away, because I’ve never been one to shy away from challenges, or from hard work. Viewing my writing time as a workout equivalent to rock climbing makes it seem more manageable. It’s not that I am not capable of doing it; I’m just reluctant to put in the work. And when I stare at a sentence and can’t figure out how to revise it (I’m writing a second draft, so I’m mostly revising), and I am tempted to click on a website to take a quick break, that’s when I need to stick with it most, to face the (not-so-blank) page and force my brain to work. And, after doing that algebra problem in my head, I come up with the right words (maybe not the perfect words, but better than what I had before), and it’s a satisfying feeling to have worked through that difficult moment. But it’s difficult, and I just have to accept that.

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2 Comments

Filed under Writing

2 responses to “Writing is Like Exercise

  1. mel

    oh, so true! but luckily, like exercise it does get easier at some point. right now my writing could be in better shape, but it’s getting there. i think i dread writing time like I used to dread workout time, so I sympathize greatly. Although I do feel better after I’ve done it – i guess the anticipation is the worst part (at least for me).

  2. I suppose at times it seems like it’s getting easier, but right now it just feels like work. Maybe because I am coming back from vacation. I guess the key for me is not to expect it to be easy/fun. Then I’ll just sit down and do it anyway.

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