Have you ever thought about how much writing and fitness have in common? It’s true. There’s a reason why many people talk about their writing skill as a “muscle” that must be exercised if it’s to grow stronger. Honing your writing craft—not to mention working on the business/career side of writing—involves many of the same mental, emotional, and even logistical challenges that are connected to pursuing a stronger, healthier body and lifestyle. Fitness and overall health can be just as much a lifelong investment as writing.
In fact, if you give yourself a healthy physical baseline, you might even enjoy a longer life in which to let your writing flourish! I’m a great believer in the idea that an active body can encourage and support an active mind. That’s what this series is about. Finding ways, as writers, to achieve a higher quality of life, become more active in habit, and strengthen our bodies in the process (and our minds, by proxy).
Before we get to any of that, take a peek at this disclaimer:
I’m not a personal trainer (yet). I’m not a dietician. I’m not a healthcare professional. I am a writer who enjoys being physically and mentally active and wants to help other writers realistically pursue overall fitness and health. While it contains advice, tips, and strategies, this series isn’t a prescription or a personalized diet/workout plan. If you have questions about how certain exercises or eating protocols might impact your health, consult your doctor.
I make this statement because I don’t want people to get the wrong idea about these posts. This series is based on personal experience and opinion and is intended to be a resource for writers who want to integrate an approach to fitness with their current routines. It isn’t meant to revolutionize the fitness industry. If you’ve done a lot of research on health and fitness or have had a relatively active past, you may find a lot of familiar content here—but hopefully it’ll offer some things you haven’t tried or considered before. I’m not here to sell you supplements or preach a particular gospel about why reverse pyramid weight training is superior to regular pyramid training. This isn’t about body-shaming or fat-shaming. We all come in different shapes, sizes, and capabilities. We have different goals and priorities. At its core, I just hope you find this series to be a useful resource, perhaps an inspiration, and can take away at least a few points that will improve your efforts.
With all that said, I want to use this first entry to answer a basic question: “Why should writers in particular pay attention to their fitness?” Aside from the parallels between the two, which we’ll discuss more as we go, here are a few main reasons why fitness and health matters to writers:
- A Sedentary Pursuit – Writing primarily occurs while sitting down, with writers rarely moving anything except those wiggly bits at the end of their arms. Numerous studies have linked excessive sitting to all manner of health complications, from obesity to heart failure to cancer. Yet writing seems to demand we assume this position to stay productive. How can we manage otherwise?
- A Stressful Pursuit – Writing imposes all sorts of subtle—and not-so-subtle—demands on your body, from your back to your eyes to your joints, not to mention the mental and emotional stress of bleeding a story out onto the page! Chronic stress can lead to exhaustion, sleep loss, and all sorts of maladies and impairments. Fortunately, physical activity is a proven stress reducer and reliever.
- A Solitary Pursuit – Writers work alone. You can’t really get past this. If you want words to appear on the page, you’ve got to go sit in a corner (or coffee shop) and do it all yourself. Isolation in itself has been linked to a risk of higher blood pressure, and can worsen a whole host of illnesses, including depression and anxiety—all thing that can be improved through a consistent and comprehensive fitness regimen.
If fitness hasn’t been a priority for you, it might be time to reconsider. Or perhaps you’ve made an effort before, but have been discouraged by a seeming lack of progress or stymied by confusion as to what really helps you achieve better health and a stronger body. All that and more is what we’re here to cover, with the hope of giving your writing a boost along the way.
Next up, we’re going to look at some of the major challenges writers face when it comes to health and fitness.