I hate to exercise. In fact, left to my own devices, I just don’t do it. An early morning walk sounds like a great idea the night before. But when you’re stumbling around in the semi-dark, suddenly(!) having a cup of coffee on the lanai while watching the sun come up sounds like a SO MUCH BETTER idea.
Knowing how much I hate to exercise, I was a bit shocked to realize that I’ve been working out steadily, two to three times a week for the past five years. (And no, you can’t tell by looking at me.)
There are three reasons why I’ve kept up this discipline:
- Regularly scheduled appointments to work out
- My trainer
- My workout partner
And all three are intertwined.
I know that every Monday and Wednesday (and sometimes Fridays) at 4:00 pm, I am expected at the gym. If I were in a class of 10 or more, I wouldn’t be missed. But there are only three of us. It’s gonna be pretty obvious if I don’t show up.
I pay my trainer. It’s really a nominal fee since my workout partner and I split the cost. But because I am paying for the joy of pain, I mean physical training, I tend to work a little harder. It makes no sense to pay good money for a workout and then phone it in. Yes, I know some people do. And from time to time, I do, too. But I’m a middle class person. If I spend money, I want results.
Having a workout partner pushes me. She’s 10 years younger and six inches shorter, just a little bit stronger than I am and a heck of a lot faster. She’ll beat me in most things, but I at least have a reasonable chance of catching up to her. In some things.
All this is a long lead-in to a revelation I had a few months back about writing.
While I’ve written and edited dozens of nonfiction books and coached people through the completion of their books, I have been working on a novel, off and on (mostly off), for over 10 years. Maybe 15. Yes. OK. 15! Now, if this was the Great American Novel, then 10 or 15 years might not be excessive. But it’s not. It’s a light little murder mystery. Fun. Not deep.
It is something that I always mean to get to, but it always ends up on the back burner. Client work comes first. There was never time. (Although apparently there was time to binge watch every episode of NCIS. EVERY EPISODE.)
No time. Until I realized that the discipline of my weekly workout appointments would work just as well for a weekly writing appointment.
I contacted a friend who had just started writing a novel and suggested we meet once a week in person for a few hours just to write. Basically I asked him to be my writing accountability partner. And it works. In truth, we catch up and kvetch for the first 30 minutes or so, but then we settle into actual writing. Sometimes we share what we’ve written or bounce an idea off each other, but for the most part, it’s two to three hours of butt-in-chair writing time.
And it’s working. I am now in the home stretch of having this thing ready to send off to an editor. (Yes, editors need editors. It’s incredibly difficult to edit your own work.) Because the book is in front of me every week, I don’t have to spend time familiarizing myself with it each time. I add a minimum of 1,000 words each time I sit. Yes, I know I should be doing this three times a week, but hey, baby steps here.
Having an accountability partner or writing buddy helps keep me on track. I now have Tuesday afternoons set aside expressly for writing fiction. (Oh yeah. I’m already planning the next book.)
If your book project—fiction or nonfiction—keeps ending up on the back burner and you really do want to finish it, it may be time to find an accountability partner—a writing buddy—and set up a writing date.