At first glance, writing and physical fitness may seem like polar opposite pursuits. After all, writing has you sitting in at your desk or in a coffee shop for hours on end, days at a time, moving little more than your fingers—which, I can tell you, doesn’t burn nearly as much calories as I’d like. Trying to be active and healthy, however, involves getting off your duff and often making with this thing called “sweating,” be it through running, lifting weights, downward dog poses, flipping massive tires, or anything else that forces your body to go into survival mode and punish you with immobilizing soreness the next morning.
How could these two things have anything in common? Actually, you’d be surprised. Let’s go down a brief list, shall we?
Both writing and fitness require you to, y’know, do something! If you don’t actually sit down and write, the words don’t get on the page. If you don’t actually get off the couch, you won’t get any stronger. These are simple realities. People often try to shortcut fitness efforts with diet pills, fad exercise machines, or endless reading of fitness forums. People will talk about the great novel idea they have or spend all their time reading books on how to write without ever putting their knowledge into action. But if you aren’t dedicated to getting the work done, then guess what the results are going to be?
If you want to succeed in either area, having a plan is critical. Going at either writing or fitness haphazardly, without any clear goals or steps to take will quickly leave you floundering, discouraged, and unaware if you’re even making any real progress. For fitness, having an established training and eating plan is going to greatly increase your chances of reaching your goals, be it weight loss, strength gains, mileage boosts, or races won. For writing, having a word count goal, draft deadline, or even an overarching business plan for your career can give you greater focus and keep you on track. Winging it rarely works in the long-term.
Times get tough. We fail. We get rejected. We hit points where we want to give up and go back to the status quo. But the hard truth is if we quit trying, then we’ll never succeed. Getting a finished draft? Getting published? Finishing a race? Hitting a new max lift? None of that would happen if we stopped part way. Succeeding means pushing through the obstacles and overcoming the temptation to walk away because it feels too difficult. Sure, we can have off days, or let ourselves rest and recuperate for a time after a setback—but then it’s time to re-engage and keep striving ahead.
Remember that, in the end, the right approach to writing or fitness is the one that works best for you. Your writing skill and style is unique. So is your body and health needs. So are the definitions of success you hold to in each area. Don’t just jump into the latest fitness fad. Find the activities or sports you truly enjoy. Find the eating protocol you can stick with for the long haul. Find the writing tools and techniques that work best for you. Find the writing community that supports your dreams and goals. Your way is your way, no matter what anyone else tries to tell (or sell) you.
Lastly, I’ll note that working on being more physically fit can actually help boost your writing in itself. It can drive more blood flow to the brain, increase energy levels and focus, and show how much you’re capable of when you set your mind to conquering a goal.
Want to learn more about the junction where writing and fitness meet? Check out the Write Strong blog post series, which covers a wide array of fitness topics and has more than a few guest posts from writers all over the country and the world, discussing their approaches to a healthier lifestyle alongside their writing pursuits.
Josh Vogt has been published in dozens of genre markets with work ranging from flash fiction to short stories to doorstopper novels that cover fantasy, science fiction, horror, humor, pulp, and more. His debut fantasy novel, Forge of Ashes, adds to the RPG Pathfinder Tales tie-in line. WordFire Press is also launching his urban fantasy series, The Cleaners, with Enter the Janitor (2015) and The Maids of Wrath (2016). You can find him at JRVogt.com or on Twitter @JRVogt. He’s a member of SFWA as well as the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers.