Aside from novel-writing, I’m obsessed with nutrition and healthy lifestyle information. I read nutrition and exercise articles almost daily. I put much of the nutritional advice I read consistently into practice; I put almost none of the exercise advice I read consistently into practice.
I binge exercise. I cycle between short periods of dedicated, intense exercise—until I burn out, get into shape, or get bored—and long periods of doing absolutely nothing—until my body starts to atrophy and I finally declare “I must do something…drastic” and I eventually embark on another round of getting back into shape.
(Note 1: After an entire winter of doing absolutely nothing, I’m currently at the “I must do something drastic…soon” phase in the cycle.
Note 2: Okay, “dedicated, intense exercise” may be an exaggeration…it’s not that intense nor that dedicated. Moving on.)
To the point, I’ve read a great deal about the value of Interval Training in exercise and highly recommend it (despite rarely doing it). For instance, if one runs (which I don’t, if I can help it), interval training would involve alternating between short, intense, full-out sprints, and slow, steady recovery jogs in one training session. I’ve realized that the same habits that I’ve applied (or haven’t but should) to exercise also apply to writing:
In school, I practiced binge-writing as a sprinter, typically only writing when assignments required it, and sitting down at the keyboard to start writing an essay twelve-to-twenty-four hours before the deadline. Full-on sprint to submission (no time for warm-up or cool-down) and then collapse and recover until the next deadline looms. It had it’s advantages. (Otherwise, why did I do it that way through eight years of university?)
In business, I prefer a marathon approach, working on a copywriting project methodically and steadily from start to finish with as few disruptions as possible. The more times interruptions take my eyes from the screen, or other projects divert my attention, the more time required to figure out where I left off and what I need to pick up again.
In novel-writing, I’m still discovering my stride but I think I would call it “interval writing”. I complete a number of days of research—slowly, steadily accumulating the facts I need. Then, with all the required details before me, and driven by the stress of not having posted an update for several days, I pick up the pace, pounding out and posting several new sections as quickly as possible. Feeling a sense of accomplishment at having posted new content, I rest and recover (aka focus on all the other work I’ve neglected) for a few days. During that time, I tend to go back to leisurely re-read and further tweak the new sections (regardless of the fact that I’ve already posted them). Then, eventually, I realize that I haven’t yet won the race, its only just begun. Adrenalin rises and I head back to the computer for another lap around the World Wide Web.