In the 1960s competitive swimming took over my life. We only had an outdoor pool, so water training took place during the summer months. That didn’t mean we allowed our fitness to lay idle during the winter. Instead we participated in an intense land programme to maintain our fitness and strength in the months we were out of the water. Our endeavour to become the best competitor possible was a year round commitment.
Writing is the same. We go through the same year round process as any competitive sports person. In order to maintain our writing fitness we need to practice writing, even when we’re not working on something important. Whether this takes the form of blogging, journal writing or merely playing around with words in other ways, we need to keep our brain conditioned to enable it to serve us well.
And, just like an athlete, we need to warm up before our daily output. While some writers say they can take the plunge and dive straight into a new piece, I wonder if they’ve ever considered how much better their writing may be by doing a little warm-up writing first.
Then, there’s a nutritious diet giving the energy to train and compete. Good writers remember to feed themselves regularly with the written words of others, with good conversation and by getting out and about to experience life away from the computer.
Most athletes have a coach to guide them on their way to success. A writer gathers up trusted friends and other writers, those who understand. These could be blog buddies, writing group buddies or others in the writing and publishing world. All writers need to be told when they’re on the right path and when they’re straying from it.
Finally, athlete’s burn out if they work too hard without rest. Not only do they need to give their muscles time to adapt to new work loads, they also need regular sleep to refresh them from one training session to another. So it is with writers. Too much writing without regular rest and time for recovery can result in stale ideas and lack of enthusiasm.
So come on writers, we’re all athlete’s really and need to make sure we’re on the best training programme we can cope with. What sort of writing programme do you participate in? How do you keep the writer within you conditioned and maintained? Practice may not make perfect but it can certainly make the writing process easier.