We all exercise for the results. Different people are looking for different results or outcomes. Goals vary from weight loss, athletic performance, endurance, strength, toning, bodybuilding to more flexibility, etc.
Exercise is also a key factor in helping the squishy grey thing between your ears. But what keeps you going? The key takeaway here is this: motivation. And it’s needed to achieve any goal in life – especially writing. Easier said than done, right?
Well, here are ten of the most common tips for motivation and consistency in exercise, and how you can apply them to writing to get results and achieve your goals.
1. Exercise with a Buddy
Try working out with a friend, spouse, or co-worker. It’s harder to skip a workout if you know someone is counting on you. The buddy system brings a social element to exercise which makes it more fun.
Apply this to your writing: Get yourself a sprint buddy. Last one to 1000 words is a rotten egg!
2. Set a New Goal
An initial goal sets a foundation in which future training goals are based. Setting a goal, such as entering a 5K race or rock climbing, may never have entered your mind. But after your initial goal is met, you will see new, interesting, and fun adventures in fitness you never thought possible.
Applying this to your writing: An initial word count goal can help you see the bigger picture broken into smaller chunks. It’s daunting to think a novel is usually around 80,000 words. But, if you tackle that 800 words per day, that stacks up to a book in a little over three months.
3. Change Your Routine
Just a slight variation can take you to a new level in your workout. We use periodized training, a systemized approach involving progressive cycling of various aspects of training protocol, in 6 week intervals to avoid plateaus, boredom and for maximum effect. If you feel you are at a stand still, train three times a week for 3-4 weeks and experience the difference.
Apply this to your writing: Just as happens with exercise, our brains get bored. To prevent this, mix it up a little. Do you usually write first thing after waking? Try getting in a quick walk before sitting at your desk. The happy feels from the exercise may even help clear up those pesky plot holes.
4. Treat Yourself to Variety
A heart-rate monitor, jump rope, Physioball, medicine ball, and other exercise equipment can help you work out more effectively and make your workouts more fun and challenging. Try adding a sport to your activities instead of always working out in the gym.
Apply this to your writing: Write alone, write with friends. Go to the park, the beach, or your favourite cafe. It’s said that a change is as good as holiday, and this may just be the thing you need to shake things up and keep the words flowing.
5. Try Something New
Personal trainers will challenge you with exercises you’ve never tried before. Training with different trainers also provides variety plus you learn from the experience of a team of trainers.
If you always walk on a treadmill, try riding an exercise bike or an elliptical trainer. If you always lift with machines, try free weights instead.
Apply this to your writing: Have you got a Spitball Buddy? I do! A Spitball Buddy is someone you can fling ideas back and forth with. Each time I sit down with Katie Ginger, we talk through our stories, throw different versions of What If? into the mix and, often, we come away with just the thing we needed to get back on track.
If this doesn’t sound like your bag, you can employ the services of a beta reader or writing coach. I don’t love leaving a beta read alone with just ‘this doesn’t work’, I’ll always try and put something in the comments or write you a love letter at the end full of suggestions and ideas on how to improve.
6. Track Your Progress
Keep an exercise log. This will help you track your goals, monitor your progress and adjust your routine as necessary. Occasionally, test your maximum strength to determine your progress in total strength. By using a ten rep strength test, see how much weight you can bench press and leg press in ten reps. Use your first measurement of weight and reps as a benchmark and every three to four months, retest your strength.
Apply this to your writing: I was introduced to Pacemaker by Sarah Bennett, who has used this method consistently and successfully for a number of novels. It’s a tracking site where writers can update their word counts daily. You even get confetti cannons when you hit your target.
7. Reward Yourself
When you reach a goal or milestone, treat yourself to something special – a massage, an evening out, new clothes or some other indulgence. Studies show rewards are a key to staying motivated.
Apply this to your writing: All of the above, and remember to give yourself a massive pat on the back. You’re a bloody champion.
8. Remember the Benefits
You know how good and healthy you feel after a workout? Make a mental note of that feeling. Use that memory to motivate yourself the next time you’re thinking of blowing off your workout.
Apply this to your writing: Keep your eyes on the prize. Remember why you’re here and why you fell in love with words in the first place. Dig into that well when things feel a little dry.
9. Go Easy on Yourself
Stuff happens – doctor’s appointments, sick kids, illnesses. Don’t let a few missed workouts turn into a month of unfulfilled resolutions and move you further away from your goals.
Apply this to your writing: Exactly as it says. Be kind to your brain. I know from experience that dwelling on missed days is a recipe for disaster.
10. Plan and be Ready to Exercise
Schedule your workouts like you schedule meetings and doctor appointments. Write your exercise time in your palm pilot or day planner. Pack your duffel bag with your gym clothes the night before you go to work or school. Or have an extra duffel bag in the car ready to go just in case you forget your gym clothes.
Apply this to your writing: For me, I find that I really have to plan out chapters before I write them. I call it pre-writing, and it’s the same as getting my gym bag ready. I write down a rough outline for each chapter the night before I plan on writing it. The next day, I go through the points, flesh them out and add colour. It’s wild how quickly you get used to this routine; my writing now suffers without it.