Lessons from the Gym
If you know me at all, you probably know I have this annoying little habit of getting out for exercise every day. Either the gym, or outside for a hike or bike ride. I admit I love my exercise. But not for the reasons you might think. I mean, physical health is important and all, but honestly, would that be enough to motivate me? No way.
The truth is, I go to the gym for YOU. When I’m at the gym, I have all kinds of insights about the writing life, then I come back and share them on my blog and you might think these things just sort of come to me, but they wouldn’t if I hadn’t been at the gym.
Case in point. I’ve been thinking lately about the fact that there are parts of a writing career that writers don’t enjoy. It’s different for each person, and some of you might be very strange and actually enjoy all of it, but the parts writers typically don’t enjoy include:
→ Writing a synopsis
→ Writing a proposal
→ Writing a query
→ The entire query process
→ Blogging and social networking
→ Being patient for things to happen
→ Any aspect of marketing the book
To be successful in any business, sometimes we need to step outside the comfort zone. It isn’t enough to just write your book; there are other things that need to be done.
I was thinking about this while I was going through a similar thought process about my gym regimen. I needed to shake things up a bit, kick it up a notch. I decided to try some new exercise classes. So I went for it, and here’s what I learned:
→ Lesson 1: If you’re focused on how much you hate something, you’re not going to do it well.
Class: Zumba. Can I just tell you how much I detest Zumba? Possibly as much as some of you hate synopsis or query-writing. I’m not at the gym to shake my booty and swivel my hips, but I tried it anyway. From the first song, I was in torture. Hating every second. Doing the fancy footwork, shimmying my shoulders, all that stuff. I wanted to leave but I promised myself I’d stay at least 30 minutes. It felt like 30 hours.
And you know what? Since I was so focused on my intense dislike of all things Zumba, I was unwilling to try hard. I couldn’t give it my all. I couldn’t break a sweat, my heart rate didn’t even go up. I wasn’t getting a good workout because I wasn’t giving all I had.
For you: Ask yourself: is this something I must do? Or is there another way to accomplish my goal? If the activity is a must (i.e writing a query) then face the dislike head-on and figure out a way to get past it so that you can truly give it your all. If there’s another way to accomplish your goal, by all means, head that direction!
Which is what I did. Next up:
→ Lesson 2: Sometimes, the fact that you know something will help you is enough to motivate you.
Class: Interval Step. An advanced step class where the movement never stops for 55 minutes. I never took step classes because the complicated foot work scares me. At the beginning, it seemed pretty easy to follow. Gradually the steps became more complicated until it became laughable to try and keep up. I persisted and to my amazement, it got my heart rate up and I was really sweating. I was getting a good workout regardless of how goofy I looked, and that was incredibly motivating for me. Now step class is my go-to, and surprise! I love it.
For you: You may not enjoy social networking or writing a proposal, but perhaps if you focus on the end result, the task will become easier. Who knows, you might end up enjoying it.
→ Lesson 3: Sometimes results come slowly. Don’t quit too soon out of impatience.
Class: Bosu Core Training. This is a class of slow & steady movements that are difficult and awkward yet they don’t seem like they’re doing much good. I prefer a quicker pace in my exercise classes, and I prefer not to feel like a dork, so I didn’t really like this one.
Until the next day. Wow, muscles I hadn’t talked with in awhile were communicating loud and clear. I finally realized that slow and steady sometimes works, and that I should do this class once in awhile to shake up my routine.
For you: Don’t quit blogging and social networking because you’re not seeing immediate results. Don’t quit querying, don’t quit improving your craft. Give it time.
What parts of the writing career do you find less than enjoyable? How do you deal with them?
If you should decide to invest in some personalized counsel, I offer coaching for unpublished authors here: My Coaching Services
I also offer online courses here: Author School