I compare writing to exercise a lot. Like exercise it’s something that’s easier to do if you do it continuously, it can become a habit through repetition and the more you do it the better you get at it. I wanted to explore the topic of doing different types of exercise; including writing exercises.
Like my kung-fu teacher, Bruce Lee used to say, (full disclosure: I have never met Bruce Lee, he died when I was 2 years old, but I’ve read some of his books) it is better to practice precision exercises first, before endurance exercises. As you tire, you begin to get sloppy. If you practice precision exercises while you are fatigued, you repeat moves sloppily and develop bad habits.
While writing my first book, I never considered this lesson. For example, is there a best practice when it comes to your personal writing style? I’ve heard some authors say that they do their best writing first thing in the morning before 8:00 am, while some people are still hitting their snooze button for the fifteenth time at 8:00 am. Does it take you a few minutes of warm-ups while writing before you actually start coming up with something printable? When I was still writing fiction, I used to scribble some sketches before I would start writing.
Is writing a precision exercise or is it an endurance exercise? To be honest I’m not really sure. I went for a short jog moments ago, Bruce Lee popped into my mind as I got home, so I jumped directly onto my laptop and started typing. Then, I’m planning to stop after this paragraph, set it aside until tomorrow morning, and see what kind of sense this blog post makes.
I know this seems strange to you, because as you’re reading this, I’ve already gone through this whole process, but to help you see things from my point of view, imagine a montage sequence starting right now involving me going to the store, eating fish and vegetables for dinner while reading a book by John C. Maxwell, taking a shower, then going to bed. And now I am coming back to my computer the next morning and typing my thoughts on what I just wrote, right…. now!
After a good night’s sleep and a cup of chai tea, I’ve looked over what I wrote yesterday. I see that I have no typos and each sentence appears to be cogent and articulate. Although this entire blog post seems to be lacking a central theme or point. Maybe the point is that writing is not necessarily a precision exercise, but an endurance exercise. Don’t worry about the optimal time, the optimal method, or the optimal practice–just do it.
Or maybe there is no point when dealing with the Tao of The Art of Writing. It doesn’t have to have purpose it just has to be.