I'm at the precipice of taking a deep dive into WIP revisions, so I've been contemplating what needs to happen to nudge me over the edge. That got me thinking of a blog post I wrote in 2009 that is still extremely relevant, so I thought I'd share it with you today. I’m going to use a boxing (and wrestling) metaphor to make a point, so bear with me.
You’ve all heard the term ‘fighting weight’? It references the weight classifications professional boxers compete in. A lightweight is 131-135 pounds. Super lightweight 136 – 140 pounds. Welterweight 141-147 pounds. And so on and so forth. These athletes usually don’t maintain this weight year round, it’s just too difficult. They prefer to train and exercise just prior to the contest to lose the necessary pounds. A boxer will generally try to have the maximum weight possible within the classification he/she is fighting in, as a good boxer will be able to use his weight to his advantage.
Although the phrase originated in the boxing world, it’s really not a practice exclusive to the sport. Most athletes maintain just a minimum standard of conditioning during their non-competitive season, allowing their weight to balloon somewhat, then they return to their more stringent preparations as the sport season dictates. The more they allow themselves to slough-off in the off-season, the harder it is to get back to that ‘fighting weight’ they need to be at to compete.
It’s not a stretch to consider that as writers, it’s our minds that should be in tip-top condition to produce material we hope is worthy of publication. For me, however, there is a direct correlation between my physical condition and my mental one. The better I feel...the more creative I am. That's no surprise because increased blood flow to the brain (from exercise) reduces stress, as well as incidents of depression (writers never experience that…do we). But there is also the cognitive element. That becomes evident in our ability to assimilate information, comprehend relationships, and develop reasonable conclusions and plans. I put it to you that it also powers the imagination.
I’m just as guilty of sloughing off with my brain as I am with my body. I’ll have periods where I’d rather watch hours of mindless television, play nonsensical video games, or giggle at stupid Youtube video's on the computer, anything other than something like engaging my brain with a really good book. Its laziness…pure laziness…and I know it. But I don’t mind so much because…you see…it’s the off-season.
It’s different when I’m starting a new book (or I'm about to revise one). Time to get back into my writing weight. How many of you do that? Are you at your writing weight now? Is your mind in tip-top condition?
Am I trying to tell you that you need to jump on a treadmill? No, but a little exercise can never be a bad thing and it’s not the only way to keep our minds fit. Read -- a lot. Play chess. Tackle a crossword puzzle. Have a coffee date with some of your writing friends and talk about books. Do something that stimulates your mind and massages that frontal lobe. How do you find the time, you ask? If you’re serious about writing, like the boxer is about fighting, you’ll find time.
Your WIP will be better off because of it.
And if you haven't already, don't forget to vote for your favorite writing sample in bout 12 & 13 of WRiTE CLUB!