Thursday, March 19, 2009


January started with two major revisions in my life: 1) the personal trainer and 2) the second draft of my new novel.

I've realized over the last couple weeks that the process is remarkably similar for both. Pain, inertia, pain, stubbornness, pain, mental blocks, pain, endurance.

And pain.

Revising a manuscript has given me insight into revising my body, and vice versa. Here's what I've learned.

1. Take the Long View
I'm a Biggest Loser fan. Wonderful show. But it is frustrating to watch them drop anywhere from 5-15 pounds a week while my scale stays stubbornly on the same number. Maybe if I was only checking in on my body once a week, I'd see the changes, but since I live in my body, I have to remind myself daily changes are subtle. Too subtle to see most of the time. Just like a page of revisions or rewriting at a time seems miniscule when compared to the 200+ pages still to go, but each page adds up. So does each squat or push-up or bicep curl.

2. Take Your Rewards Where You Can Find Them
Write a particularly good bit of dialogue? Discover a hidden motivation in a character? Solve a particularly thorny plot issue? Giggle and do the Snoopy dance to celebrate. Last 15 seconds longer on a side plank hold? Do 5 sets of tricep dips without crying? Run a complete mile without pause? Same thing. (Well, maybe not the Snoopy dance--unless you want your muscles to give way.)

3. Use Frustration as Fuel
When jealousy, despair, cravings, and/or sheer I'm-so-tired-of-doing-this set in, channel it. Don't let it derail the process. Dougnuts will not--repeat, WILL NOT--make you feel better. Neither will playing solitaire or reading email for three hours while you avoid opening your novel file. Of course you don't want to start exercising/writing. Who does? But I promise, from personal experience, once you've done it, you'll feel so much better.

4. The Only Failure is to Quit
Will I ever get below 30% body fat or lose these even-more-stubborn-than-me 15 pounds? Not if I quit now. Will I ever sign with an agent/sell my novel to the highest bidder/become even more famous than Stephenie Meyer? Not if I quit now. I control what I can--the exercising, eating right, writing, and submitting said writing. Will it pay off? I don't know. But I do know that if I quit, then it's over.

5. Love Revising for its Own Sake
Body or soul, mind or manuscript, you have to love the process. That doesn't mean you enjoy every single weight lifted or mile run or chapters scratched and started from nothing . . . but it does mean you have to enjoy the process as a whole. I exercise now because it makes me feel good--stronger, healthier, happier. Do I want to get skinnier? Yes. Will I keep exercising when/if I reach my weight goal? Yes. And writing--well, whole books are written about writers and their devotion to an exceedingly difficult and irritating art form. Do I want to be published? Yes. Would I quit writing if I get published? Absolutely not. So why would I quit before?

Onward and upward--I have twenty more minutes of cardio to do and Chapter 13 to revise.

Wish me well :)


Anonymous said...

I needed the donut reminder.

And has anybody ever told you you're awesome and inspiring?

Jennifer said...

You continue to inspire me. I'm trying to get back on track with the weight/health thing. I'm certainly NOT going to be writing or even reading much, but I am pulling out my camera more. Can't capture the images if I'm not taking any. Thanks for all the reminders!