Thursday, May 1, 2014

Nine Ways Writing is like CrossFit

by Lynn H. Blackburn

I joined CrossFit a few months ago. Me. The girl allergic to exercise now finds herself doing deadlifts, kettlebellswings, and burpees.

It’s caught me completely off guard, but I love it. The other thing that’s caught me off guard is how much similarity there is between my CrossFit journey and my writing journey.

Here are my Nine Ways Writing is like CrossFit.

1. It’s scary. Every time I look at the workout for the next day, my stomach does this little flip and the wimpiest parts of me start coming up with excuses for why I can’t go.
Same thing happens every time I look at a blank page.

2. It feels good—when it’s over. In the middle of a workout, I think I’m going to die. Sometimes I feel that way while crafting a scene or devotion. But when it’s done? Oh, that’s the best feeling in the world!

3. The warm-up is brutal. When I first joined CrossFit, I dreaded the warm-up more than anything else. The stretches and flexibility exercises left me gasping for air. I would have skipped it if I could, but skipping the warm-up is asking for injury.

When you start writing, it’s easy to want to skip straight to publication. The warm-up—critiques, conferences, studying the craft, writing a few wretched novels or poems—is exhausting but essential. That warm-up time will save you from a world of hurt later on.

4. Others are better at this than you are. It’s so embarrassing, because some of them haven’t been at this as long as you have. (Or, in my case, they are 26 weeks pregnant and still kicking my rear in the gym).

You know those writers, don’t you? You love them, but they are so stinking good it makes you feel inadequate. It’s tough to focus on honing your skills without falling into the comparison trap. Some people will always be better than you. All you can do is be the best you can be.

5. It does get easier. One day, you swing that kettlebell and realize it’s not as heavy as it used to be.

Same with writing. Churning out 1000 words doesn’t instill the same fight or flight response it used to. You find your rhythm and a pace you can manage.

6. Then it gets harder. Because the coach notices it’s getting easy and you’re toast. Back to square one with a weight you can barely drag across the floor, much less swing over your head. Same with the writing life. You’ve landed an agent and a contract, but now there are deadlines and 1-star reviews and this isn’t quite as much fun anymore.

7. It hurts. I almost dropped my barbell the day our coach told us if we were doing it right, we should have bruises on our collar bones. What?
Same with writing. If you’re writing anything of meaning and value, if you’re writing from a place of truth, it’s going to hurt. Get used to the bumps and bruises. They’re here to stay.

8. There’s always more. Even the most elite CrossFit athletes continue to push themselves. No one questions their awesomeness, but they’re always looking for ways to lift more or finish faster.

As writers, no matter what level of success you achieve, there will always be more. Another novel, a different genre, a chance to speak or teach.

9. It’s so worth it. The sore muscles, the blisters, the scrapes, all fade into the background when you see the results. (I just realized this weekend that I have biceps!)

You may have a hard time seeing the results, but never forget that your writing matters. Your words are a gift that only you can give. Someone out there needs what you have to say. Don’t wimp out. You can do this.

What would you add to this list?
Don’t forget to join the conversation!



Lynn Huggins Blackburn has been telling herself stories since she was five and finally started writing them down. She blogs about faith, family, and her writing journey on her blog Out of the Boat. Lynn is a member of the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild and the Word Weavers, Greenville. She lives in South Carolina where she hangs out with three lively children, one fabulous man, and a cast of imaginary characters who find their way onto the pages of her still unpublished novels. She drinks a lot of coffee.


  1. This is true, Edie! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Michelle, Lynn definitely hit the nail on the head! Thanks for stopping by, Blessings, E

  2. I need everything in the list. Lynn! Especially the 'it will get easier part. I still freak out when I sit down to a blank page - or even to edit something I've already written. Thanks for the encouragement.

    1. I still freak out, too! Just not for as long :-) Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Bravo! This almost makes me want to try CrossFit. Almost. :)

    1. We would have so much fun :-) You can join me anytime!

  4. Congrats for sticking with it!

    I also work out at the gym and write. I think I'll pass on CrossFit though.

    On May 16th, I'll be linking to this post.

  5. What a great post! Much food for thought. :)