I’ve been a writer my entire life and I’ve been lifting weights for seven years. These two pastimes may seem at opposite ends of the activity spectrum, and yet! Here are four things weight lifting and writing have in common.
1) Lift Heavy
I mean this literally and metaphorically. When weight lifting, the goal is usually to progress and lift heavier weights.
Let’s say you’re a beginner and you start out squatting 30 pounds, or even just your body weight. Whew, is that heavy when your muscles are brand new!
You keep squatting, ensuring good form, and before you know it, 30 pounds is easy. So you add weight to your bar or dumbbells and keep going. Suddenly, you’re squatting 50, 70, 100 pounds or more!
That’s the way to keep getting stronger and building muscle—by lifting heavier and heavier (safely, of course!).
Writing is the same, though a bit more metaphorically.
When you’re writing, you’re doing some heavy mental lifting. What would make a good blog post? What do my clients want to read? What in the world is that word I want that’s right on the tip of my tongue?!
Writing is hard mental work. But the good news is, just like lifting weights, you can increase your brain’s strength so your mental lifts get easier.
You can use writing prompts to get your next blog post idea. You can check out Writer’s Market for potential clients (when its website is back up!). You can utilize an online thesaurus for that hard-to-find word, and commit it to memory for next time.
Whether you’re lifting weights or words, lifting heavy is the key to progressing in your fitness and writing journey.
2) You Have to Edit
I know I said it—the dreaded “e” word, edit! Don’t run for the hills yet, even if you hate editing, my fellow writers. (I personally love editing, but that’s just me.)
When writing, you have to edit. There’s no way around it—your first draft is probably going to be a little rough. Depending on your process, you may take a day or two for the words to fade and approach your work with a fresh eye later on.
Or you may edit as you write, which is my personal style, so your first draft is a little more polished. But, you definitely still need to go back when you’re done! Take a fine-toothed comb to your work and weed out all those unnecessary words, dangling participles, and misused terms.
In lifting, the editing is a little different. Remember how I said you should lift heavy? The one caveat to that is if you’re lifting too heavy too early, you could injure yourself.
For example, my shoulders are my weakest set of muscles, so I try to spend extra time training them. One day, however, I pushed myself too hard and did an overhead press with too much weight.
The result? I pulled a muscle and had to take a few days off training. If I’d gone a little slower, I could’ve avoided injury. So, I edited the amount of weight I was using and dropped back a bit. It’ll pay off in the future, when my shoulders are stronger and, most importantly, not injured!
3) It’s All in Your Head (and Yes, You Can Do This!)
Ever heard the quote, “Your body can do anything, it’s your mind you have to convince”? It’s true!
While keeping in mind the above lesson about not pushing yourself too hard and getting injured when lifting weights, there are times when your brain will tell you that you can’t possibly deadlift 150 pounds, that’s crazy!
Except you’ve been consistently and easily lifting 130 pounds for weeks. Your form is on point, your hamstrings and glutes are strong, and you want a new challenge.
But, 150 pounds?! your brain will exclaim. That’s such a big, round number!
Yes, it is, and you can do it. Sure enough, you step up to the bar, bend down, engage your lats, and lift heavy.
The same mental trick happens in writing too.
Ever tried to write something you haven’t done before? Perhaps launch a freelance career (like me) with no idea if you’ll succeed? Or maybe you know you’re skilled, but you’re too afraid of others’ thoughts to publish?
It’s all in your head. You’re a writer, and while to some that comes with connotations of sitting in coffee shops, struggling to get by, wondering if you’ll ever “make it,” being a writer is a legitimate, fulfilling career.
You can write that white paper. You will land your first clients. You will find your audience.
You just have to convince your mind.
4) Stretching is Vital
Never skip your stretches! If you’ve been at all involved in fitness in your life, you know stretching is one of the most important parts of your workout. It prepares your body for the coming exercise, increases your core temperature, and can help prevent injury.
Writing is the same! Just like you have to keep lifting heavier, you have to stretch your writing muscles every day.
Yes, I said every. day.
Work regular writing exercises into your daily routine. Perhaps, when you first sit down at your laptop, instead of immediately opening your email, try one of those writing prompts I linked above.
Or maybe end your day with a lesson on a new type of writing you’ve never done before. Google “how to write <insert type here>” and see what comes up!
Stretching your brain and your writing muscles can help either prepare you for your day’s work or cool your brain down if you’ve been focused on one thing for too long.
What Are You Waiting For?
Weight lifting and writing have more in common than you thought! Now, if you’re a lifter, go kill your workout. If you’re a writer, dig into your craft.
And best of all, if you like what I do, come work with me! I’d be delighted to write or edit for you, or who knows, maybe we can even lift together someday.