Tag Archives: writing

Writing is Like Exercise

It hit me today that (for me) writing is very much like exercise.

For about the past year I’ve been really bad for exercising. I always seem to have some reason or excuse why it’s not a convenient time to exercise. I’m either too tired, I have a headache, there are other things to do that are more important, there are other things I’d rather do (and so little time to do everything I want to do) or I simply don’t feel like it. The stupid thing is when I don’t exercise, I feel guilty. I get angry with myself for putting it off knowing that when I do exercise I feel good afterward. As much as I sometimes have to force myself to get started with exercise, I am almost always glad afterward that I did it. And then it makes me want to keep at it. When I get on a good roll with it, it makes me feel great and makes me want more. On the other hand, the longer I stay away from it, the harder it is to get back at it and the less motivated I am to get back on track.

It’s very much the same for me with writing. I go through periods of weeks, sometimes months where I will write little, if anything at all. With each day that passes, it gets easier and easier to put it off. There’s always an excuse. Maybe I’m tired from working all day, or I feel like I should spend the little time I have with my family. Sometimes I’m not feeling motivated or inspired to write. Often I am legitimately  busy with other things. And sometimes (though not often enough lately), I choose to pass up my writing time to make time to exercise.  The longer I go without writing, the more I forget all the reasons I write in the first place. But the pull to write never goes away, and like the failure to exercise, when I am not writing I feel a lot of guilt for not making the time for it.

For the past two days I’ve found myself with a fair bit of free time and have used some of it to work on my current novel. I wrote a chapter yesterday and was reminded of how much I enjoy the process of writing. In fact, once I got started, it was hard to stop. This morning when I woke up, I could hardly wait to get back at it. I wrote  nother chapter and started a third. Whenever I make the time to write I remember how much I love it and wonder what it is that could keep me from it for so long. Why do I make excuses, and procrastinate on doing something I enjoy? It’s not like this is a
new revelation or something. I’ve been going through this cycle for years.

The whole thing seems so stupid to me and I have no answers as to why I do this. Now that I have gotten back into a bit of a groove, I hope that this time I will stick to it and not forget the pleasure it gives me.


Leave a comment

Filed under Writing

The Importance of a Critique Group

Anyone who wants to become a serious writer really needs to consider joining a critique group.

In my early years of writing, I heard it and read it over and over again. You need to be a part of a critique group. I fought the idea for years, telling myself that I didn’t need it. A critique group is great for other writers, but I’m fine on my own. I work better by  yself and I don’t need feedback from others. I worked like this for a long time.

About 5 years ago, I took a writing course at Conestog College in Kitchener, Ontario. One of the first things the instructor did was have us give a summary of the novel we were working on to the entire class. Gulp. I was terrified. I didn’t want to tell this group of  complete strangers what I was writing. What if it sounded stupid to them? I hated every moment of it, but I got through it. The next thing she did was split us into critique groups based on the genre of novel we were writing. Gulp again. This wasn’t what I signed up for. I just wanted to learn what I needed to learn to become a better writer.

As it turns out, a critique group was the very thing I needed to become a better writer. The real truth is that I’d always shied away
from the idea of joining a critique group because I was quite self conscious about sharing my writing with anyone.  I wasn’t happy about the idea that this was required for the course, but it ended up being one of the best things that came out it. It was through that writing course that I met Leanne and Sherry, who are to this day two of my dearest friends and writing buddies.

When the course finished, the three of us continued our group. Others have come and gone over the years. Another writer, Kelly, joined us a couple years back as well, and she has been a valuable addition to the group. We each have different strengths and by sharing our work and editing for one another we continuously learn and become better writers. We each have enormous respect for the writing and the opinions of the others. It’s great to have people of similar interest to share our disappointments and successes, and to help keep us motivated and inspired. This group and the people in it are probably the biggest reason that I am still writing today.

If you are a writer and think you don’t need a critique group, consider these benefits:

  • Having regularly scheduled meetings keeps you motivated to write – you are accountable to someone other than yourself
  • You are surrounding yourself with people who have similar goals and dreams
  • You will be part of a support group who will encourage you and cheer you on when you might be ready to quit and are wondering why you still bother at all
  • You will learn from the other writers and in the process become a better writer yourself
  • You will be able to offer help to other writers who will benefit from your point-of-view and strengths
  • It will help you develop the thick skin you need to continue pursuing your writing dream – the harsh reality is that writing is a tough business and it’s easy to get hurt feelings or have your dreams crushed when that rejection comes in
  • You just might make some lifelong friends in the process.

These are just a few things off the top of my head. I’m sure if I thought about it long enough, I’d come up with a bunch more.

(Thanks Leanne, Sherry and Kelly for your friendship and support. I don’t know where I’d be today without you guys.)


Filed under Writing