We’re half way through the year and for many people, new year’s resolutions have been long forgotten. I remember reading a research online that said one of the two most widely abandoned resolutions is using the gym (losing weight – a connected resolution – is the second one).
People promise themselves to lose weight and be fitter in the new year, but come the first sign of boredom in January – or the latest, February they give up on the plan because they aren’t losing enough weight quick enough. On the other hand, people sign up for gym memberships in January and go religiously for the first few weeks then eventually faze out. This is definitely not what you want to do if you want to keep or become fit. It’s also not the way you want to treat your writing if you want to keep it healthy and going strong.
In the same way you have to maintain exercise to remain fit, you have to take part in the following in order to keep your writing fit, healthy and strong.
Why writing is like using the gym
You have to stretch before exercise
Some people have said that you can just open up a word document, start writing and you’ll be surprised to see a very informative article forming on your page.
I don’t believe this to be true. I think that a great article comes from dedication and time. You have to spend at least 10 minutes tinkering with the title. First of all you need to check Google tools for your keywords and see which ones have a large search volume. Your title should reflect this and all the words in this heading should be chosen carefully. Your introduction has to be well thought out and research has to be done for the article to mean anything to your readers.
You have to be motivated to continue to exercise
Once you start your session at the gym, you need to be motivated to continue. No one can go through a gruelling and sometimes painful gym session without a healthy amount of motivation.
Writing can be a lonely, demanding and arduous task, especially if you do it each day of your life. No one will endure this kind of ‘punishment’ without some form of motivation. Once you’ve ‘stretched’ your mind, keep going with something that inspires you. Here are some elements that you can use for inspiration:
- A mentor
- A work partner
What ever it is, stick with it until you’ve finished your session for the day.
You have to have a measure of health to exercise
You have to keep yourself healthy if want to be going to the gym for a long time to come. You can’t keep working out each day without good health. Your body will not permit it.
In the same way, writing while you’re unhealthy won’t bring you any successes. Some ways in which you could keep your body and mind healthy are:
- Good nutrition
- Get rid of distractions
- Keep active and informed
- Keep hydrated
Always have a good supply of healthy nuts and snacks you could munch on at intervals in the day. Don’t forget to eat while you’re working, and keep away from too much caffeine. It’s not good for you in the long run and may affect the quality of your sleep. A creative mind needs restful sleep.
Maintain good form while exercising
The first thing a personal trainer will show you is how to use the gym equipment properly and maintain a good body stance so as not to injure yourself. If you get injured, you could be out for a long time and will miss out on lots of future gym time. Good form also means that you can lift heavier weights and work out for longer.
In the same way, always be careful that your articles are produced to the best possible form. If you’re writing for the web, make sure your heading is properly SEO’d. Take the guess work out of it. Take time to research it and write your articles to suit web readership (an intro, bold or h2 headings with sections, internal linking and a good conclusion with a call to action at the end).
Last but not least, re-read your article and make sure you’re giving great value. Let your good form become your writing habit.
Keep hydrated to get the best out of exercise
No one would think of going to the gym without a bottle of water in their hand. In fact, all gym equipment are made with water bottle holders because it’s expected that gym users will come armed with this very important ‘tool’ of the trade.
Sit with a bottle of water near your writing desk/chair. Even if you have coffee or tea while you’re writing, they won’t hydrate you as water does. In fact, they can do quite the opposite. If you’re sitting for hours writing you may forget to get up to get yourself some water. Having your water there with you will give you an incentive to get at least part of your 3 pint a day intake.
Take rests at intervals
No one exercises non-stop for hours. Your personal trainer will insist on you having intense exercise interspersed with lighter exercise or rest after reps.
Your writing sessions have to come with planed rest periods, even if it’s just taking your eyes off the screen for a while for a rest (and you can download software which will make sure you rest your eyes after staring at the screen). There are other ways of ‘resting’ or taking a break between writing:
- You can also get up and walk up and down the stairs.
- Stand up and stretch tall, then bend down low.
- Stretch out your legs under your desk and do leg and foot extensions.
Writing is a lot like using the gym. Perfecting the art is also like building a perfect body, but as is expected, hard, tireless work goes into both of them. What are some other ways you can think of that makes your writing like going to the gym.
Anne Lyken-Garner writes about building confidence at her blog, How To Build Confidence. Check out her site for some fast-working confidence-building tips weather you’re a writer or not.