Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Why writing is like working out

Back in June, I was feeling the effects of a very rainy spring. Yes, I live in Oregon and it rains a lot here. But spring is usually a mixture of sunny and rainy days. Not last spring. It was one rainy day after another, ad nauseum.

All that rain meant I didn't get out for my usual dog walks as often. My husband would offer to take her, and I was happy to let him, since I was busy writing. From January to June, I pretty much wrote non-stop, finishing two middle grade novels and one YA (please don't hate me - they're short. Really.)

When the sun finally decided to show up, I went to put on my shorts, and you can guess what happened with all that butt-in-chair time combined with cutting back on my physical activity.

So, I did something drastic. I recalled that the best shape I'd ever been in was when I was doing body sculpt classes at the gym years ago. But, I didn't want to pay for a gym membership. So, I went to e-bay and found P90X with Tony Horton, that I'd seen advertised on TV. It arrived and when we got back from our Disney vacation, I started in.

There are 12 DVDs and each workout is at least an hour long, some an hour and a half. A schedule for the 90 days comes with the DVDs so you don't have to think about what you're supposed to do - the schedule tells you. Each week is a combination of weights, aerobics, and one day of yoga.

It took me a while to get into the groove. I had to play around with what time of day worked best for me. I write best in the mornings, so those were out. Early afternoon, I'm tired. Late afternoon is when I want to sit around and snack, because I get hungry. THAT is when I figured out I needed to be exercising. So, every day, around 3:00 or 4:00, I put in my DVD and press play.

It is hard. The workouts are challenging, especially for women, I think. And I wasn't perfect. Some days, I'd have a lot going on and would only do 30 minutes. Or it was really nice outside and I'd skip a DVD and go for a run instead. 

But I kept showing up. And as Tony likes to say often - do your best and forget the rest. That's what I did, over and over again. I literally took it one day at a time. If I got discouraged one day, the following day was a clean slate. It didn't matter what happened the day before, it was a chance to start over again. I also tried really hard not to compare myself to the people doing the workout in the video. They aren't me. I set my own goals each set in terms of reps, and focused on that, not what they were doing.

All of that applies to writing, I think. It's about showing up. It's about doing your best, even if one day your best is 100 words because there are too many other things going on or your tired or you can't figure out that plotting problem. It's about setting your own goals and remembering that you are different from everyone else. It's about not comparing yourself to other people because it will probably discourage you more than it will encourage you. And it is hard to write, or work out, or pretty much do anything if you are in a constant state of discouragement.

Last week, I'm happy to say I finished the 90-day "lean" program! There were a few times during the 90 days I thought about quitting. But I didn't. I wanted to see it through to the end. What do you know - JUST like writing a book!

Have I seen results? Just like writing, showing up is 3/4 of the battle. So yeah, show up, and you WILL see results. My clothes fit better. I lost some inches and a few pounds. Nothing really drastic. But that's okay. I feel better, and that's the most important thing to me.

This week, I've begun the classic program. 90 more days of hard work, stretching myself, and doing my best.

I'm working on a new book, too. 2-3 months of hard work, stretching myself, and doing my best.

See? It's pretty much the same, isn't it?


  1. Very much the same. And sometimes you don't notice the difference until a few weeks have gone by!

  2. I write a running blog and LOTS of my virtual running buddies have done the P90X program. It sounds hard!

    But, yes, I have found that exercise (in particular, running, for me) is a LOT like writing. :)

  3. Oh I tried P90X. My problem is that I was doing it with my husband and the best time for us together is 5am. Yeah, that worked for about a month and a week. Then he had to go to China for two weeks (this was in June) and I haven't turned that thing on since, ha! BUT I just got a treadmill in my room so now I can start DVRing CW shows as research and will hopefully combat my ever expanding butt. HA!
    Thanks for the inspiration and motivation with writing, too. I am learning to set more managable goals, something I posted about today, too.
    Have a great one!

  4. P90X is a hell of a workout. It's unfortunate your schedules didn't match up with your husband