The Boot Camp Approach to Writing Discipline

What if, instead of butt in the chair, trusty cup of coffee, perfect space and muse perched above your laptop while you sit for a specific amount of time writing your novel, you take on multiple challenges simultaneously and get your butt kicked? In a good way.

Shoehorning everyone into that old-school scenario no longer works for most of us in today’s short-attention-span culture. That’s why I’m using the cross fit/boot camp/functional fitness method of writing practice.

In my physical workouts, we never do the same thing twice. We don’t concentrate on one muscle for sustained periods, slowly repeating the same movements. We repeat, but almost always at a rapid pace. We get our heart rates up, rest, and keep going until we can’t anymore. We go through lots of different activities in different sequences to keep our minds engaged as well as our bodies. We have to count. Sometimes we work with a partner or a team and sometimes we’re on our own, at our own pace. We get tips on how to feed our muscles through good nutrition, and coaches offer motivational advice. We don’t know what to expect on any given day, but we know it will kick our butts and will be well worth it.

How it translates to my writing practice

This morning, I checked FB, email and Twitter, and honed in on a couple of blogs. One gave me ideas for a creative process to give my writing a boost and a branding site helped me with a strategy for publishing my book. I wrote a scene in one of the novels I’m working on and edited a chapter in another. I wrote a review of a friend’s book on Amazon and commented on a blog post by another. I wrote this blog. After that, my brain turned to jelly so I stopped.

With this method, I work hard and produce results without burning out on one project while neglecting others. I’m constantly getting new ideas and am stimulated to get out of my comfort zone and try new things.

There’s more than one way to work those writing muscles, and for me, surprising myself is what makes it fun. What works for you?

Lesson Learned

This morning I didn’t want to get up for my 5 a.m. fitness session. I whined to myself about sore knees and arms and my favorite excuse, “I’m not young; I need extra time to recover from strenuous workouts.”

I’d signed up for three sessions a week and hadn’t missed any so I decided to show up. But I wouldn’t give it 100%.

Once I was surrounded by a roomful of motivated women and a white board filled with sit ups, pull ups, pushups, squats, etc., to complete, I forgot about the aches and got down to business.

Sixty minutes later on the drive home, I felt satisfied that I’d given my all and was proud of the progress I’ve made since beginning the workouts a few months ago. Every muscle in my body has gotten stronger and that means I can do more of everything I love. I have more energy throughout the day and I’m healthier. A huge payoff.

What does this have to do with writing? I thought, why not give my writing activities the same effort and commitment? Why not push it farther than I thought I could go? And, most importantly, why not do it without all the whining?

Lesson learned?

Sometimes you can surprise yourself by just showing up. Something extra might kick in and you’ll end up giving 100%.

Doing push ups in Half Moon Bay, CA

Doing push ups in Half Moon Bay, CA