The Hardest Thing I Do
I’ve been in a bit a writing funk lately – hence why I only posted two blogs last week. It happens. But when it does it’s frustrating because, at some level, outside of myself, I feel like I’m letting people down.
Last week was weird, though. I did manage to submit three different articles to three different publications, so I guess I can chalk my lackluster blogging to writing fatigue (and the Red Sox winning the World Series).
Unfortunately, words just don’t come to me. In fact it’s hard for me to sit in front of my laptop and just seamlessly move from one blog post or article to the next without taking a break or becoming easily distracted.
I mean, in the time it took me to write the first word of this post to what you’re reading NOW I’ve checked my email seven times, cleaned the kitchen, alphabetized my BluRay collection, watched Season 4 of Breaking Bad, flossed, dropped our rent check off, and read scripture to a bunch of orphaned kittens.
Hahahahahaha. Just kidding. I didn’t clean the kitchen.
But in all seriousness, writing is HARD.
It’s never come easy for me. While I love doing it (outside of the times I feel like face planting into my keyboard), I’d be lying if I said it’s been anything but challenging.
I used to think that that’s just how it is. That writing is supposed to make you sick to your stomach sometimes; that it’s unrelenting; that it makes you feel like a failure and that paranoia will eventually render its ugly head and make you feel as if all people do when they read your stuff is look like this:
Of course I’m just by own worst critic. I don’t think there’s ever been a writer in existence who felt that he or she was actually a good writer. Passable, sure. But good? I don’t think so.
I remember reading an interview once that Stephen King did on his writing process, and how he retold a story about when he got roughly 3/4 of the way through a novel (we’re talking several hundred pages here), decided it was garbage, tossed it into, well, the garbage……and moved on to his next project.
When I read that it blew my mind.
If Stephen King – arguably one of the most prolific authors of our generation – thinks he’s a horrible writer, even if it’s only for a nanosecond…….what’s that say about the rest of us? Is there any hope?
To that point, I do get a fair number of questions via email or in person from upcoming trainers and fitness professionals on writing and how they should go about pursuing it.
I’ve written on this topic in the past and I won’t go too far here in reinventing the wheel – namely because I can’t stand repeating myself. For those interested:
HERE is a post I wrote on how I create content and how I picked up my writing style.
HERE is a post answering the commonly asked question, “Tony, how do I get my name out there and start writing for fitness publications?”
Speaking honestly, though, I can sum up both in a succinct paragraph:
Stop thinking it’s just going to happen, that it won’t require years of hard work, consistency (and just a touch of luck). Get really good at what you do – whether it’s catering to the fat loss crowd, athletes, or, I don’t know, training bomb sniffing dolphins (hint: I think there’s a lot to be said for actually training people in REAL LIFE, and not just talking about training people). And if you want to write and write well, you have to fucking write. Like, a lot.
Now, I don’t think every person who asks me that question actually feels as if everything’s going to be handed to them on a silver platter. A vast majority aren’t that naive. But I can’t help but feel a smidgeon of resentment towards some people who can’t see the obvious answer(s).
And that is: you’re going to have to put the work in, and grind it out like the rest of us.
To that end, I do want to recommend a few books which helped me along the way. Once I started doing fitness writing I realized that if I wanted to hone my craft I couldn’t just read the likes of Zatsiorsky or McGill to become a better writer. I needed to read things about writing as well.
The War of Art – David Pressfield
Bird by Bird – Anne Lamott
The Forest for the Trees – Betsy Lerner
Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life – Dani Shapiro
Everyone Poops – Taro Gomi (I just think this is a brilliant book).
And for something a bit more closer to home and speaks to the topic at hand…..
Okay, I’ll get off my soapbox now. Hopefully I didn’t come across as some condescending doucher. Then again, and not that anyone cares, I just noticed that my new car has this HUGE scratch on the rear passenger side and whoever did it didn’t have the common courtesy of leaving a note. Which means:
A). I’m in a pissed off mood right now (sorry).
B). I basically have no choice but to go all “Taken” now…….