Fitness Writing, Part I

snoopy-writingTen days before July meeting of my local (and only Iowa branch of) Sisters in Crime I was asked by the chapter president to assist with the presentation. In previous meetings, we’ve were visited by a law enforcement officer, a wonderful woman who self published a couple books, and other wonderful presenters. In July, though, K. didn’t have anybody scheduled so she asked me if I wanted to share the two hour meeting as she was planning on presenting a seminar on editing.

For a few days I could not think of a topic. Really, what is there to say about writing that hasn’t been said before? I didn’t want to talk about character or plotting or emotion but I was a blank. The following week, with the deadline looming, I was out running laps around the high school track across the street and it dawned on me that my fitness regimen could be transitioned into different ways to write. So, in order to distract my mind and body from the fact they were both tired, out of breath, but that I should finish my laps, I started outlining the following presentation.

I entitled it Means, Method, and Motivation. I focused mainly on the Method part, and threw the others in there just for fun because they helped round out the presentation (and because it’s cool alliteration. Lol.).

I discussed the fitness side, then transitioned that into writing. First, I talked about my taekwondo classes and how, at the beginning of each taekwondo class I announce the goal of the class. This way, the students know what to expect and have something toward which they can work. Maybe the goal is to learn a round kick or the next section in the form.

For writing, I want to give you, the readers some ideas which may spur your fitness regimen and/or writing. That was my goal at SiC and it’s my goal with this current series of blogs.

goal picIn my classes and my fitness exercises, I set a goal before I workout and before class. For class, I will prepare a class planner which consists of warm up exercises, the ‘meat’ of the class, be it form work, technique refinement, one step practice, etc. I try to vary the exercises so the students are always doing the same pushups, situps, or laps every time. I keep an eye out for new exercises to incorporate to see how they work, what they accomplish.

For writing, I take from Todd Stone, who wrote The Novelist Boot Camp. Back in 2007 (I think it was that year), I attended a seminar with him as speaker. One of the areas he discussed was setting a reasonable goal when you write. Many writers boast 5000 words a day or two hours a day or set aside an entire afternoon. Some manage only a page, maybe a paragraph. He didn’t criticize any of these goals. He said to set a goal that you know you can reach and do it. I took it a step farther and related the fitness side into this because I like to challenge my students to reach higher. So if you know you can write a page, try for two, or five. I’ll mention this later, but celebrate when you reached the goal and if you don’t, then revise the goal for the next time.

Next week, we’ll tackle the first M: Means.

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