22 Apr A Peep Into My Writing Process (And How To Be A Successful Fitness Blogger)
Aspiring fitness writers ask me, “What is your process when writing an article?”
As much as I wish to tell them it’s as easy as clicking red heels, drinking a glass of wine, and spewing out content with the bat of an eyelash, it’s not.
However, I’d be lying if I said wine hasn’t been involved. For my more controversial pieces (Fitness Celebrity vs. Fitness Professional and Egos in the Strength and Conditioning Industry), the process was simple: post up at the bar and let the wine inspire the witty, subconscious remarks. But then, spend 5 hours editing the next day. ;-O
Needless to say, some articles are more of a breeze than others. Some take 30 minutes. Some take 3 hours. And some don’t ever get done.
Which brings me to a critical writing tip: never put pressure on yourself.
Rarely, do I put a stringent timeline on my work. For me, writing is a gift. It’s an escape into a magical world of creating whatever the hell I want out of thin air. It’s a way of reconnecting back to my authenticity. It’s a secret love affair flirting with my weirdest thoughts. It’s a wholehearted immersion into the present moment.
And I’m so buried in my writing, if my house were robbed, I wouldn’t notice.
Sure, not every writer is wired the same. I know many who commit to a rigid schedule of 4 posts a week. I know many who pull their hair out, fretting over writer’s block. I know many who see it as an obligation. I know many who have eventually grown to hate it.
That said, this bears repeating: if you want to truly be successful and fall in love with your work, you must be present in the creation process.
So What’s The First Step In My Process?
Enter: an idea.
Which is, in fact, the EASIEST part of the process for me.
Truthfully, my ideas for articles are abundant. And yes, it’s okay to be jealous. ;-O
But look. Here’s the good news: ideas come from inspiration. And with a little sifting, inspiration is everywhere.
As a fitness blogger, I get ideas from discussions with colleagues, interactions with youth athletes, adventures in commercial gyms, and sessions with clients.
As an example, the article I wrote on Why You Need Weight Lifting To Be Healthy came to me when my client Molly performed a badass 95 pound split squat:
And then the article blossomed from there.
Besides clients kicking butt, I also pay attention to what’s going on in the world (FOX news omitted) to get inspiration. Back in December when the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show aired, I posted this to Instagram as a joke:
What happened after this?
I got a job with Victoria’s Secret. ;-O
Well, ACTUALLY…I decided to take this idea a step further and write a satire-driven piece on How To Get A Victoria’s Secret Body, later to find out it went viral.
Not all of my ideas arrive at opportune times, however. Shockingly enough, 99% of them come to me when I’m driving and reflecting on my day. To ensure I don’t kill myself in the name of creativity, I literally pull on the side of the highway, grab my notebook, and jot down my thoughts on the spot.
To some, this may be extreme. But as a passionate writer, when an idea comes, you’re snagging it and holding onto it like an overpriced $10,000 engagement ring.
After all, ideas are treasures.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” In my opinion this was one of the most epic opening sentences in literature.
What makes it so amazing is the reader asks a million questions right away:
Why was it the best of times? Why was it the worst of times? Wait, why was it both? HOW was it both? How can it both be the best and the worst? How it that possible? Wait, what times are we in? 1800? 2000? Ah, why am I so fucking confused??
Exactly Dickens’ intent: to make you ask questions and then read on to find answers.
And we should all follow suit. Opening lines are critical in captivating the reader and letting them know you mean business. The reader should be your bitch right off the bat.
Now I’m no Charles Dickens, but I’ve had my fair share of outlandish opening sentences:
– “This much I know: you can’t go through life with a clean slate. If you can, then you’re Gandalf.”
– “POP! Crack! SHIT.” Knee injuries sound something like that, right?”
– “Ever wake up from a nap and felt like you were in a different century?”
– “This much I know: sharing is caring. NOT that kind of sharing. Get your mind out of the gutter.”
All pretty solid, right?
Even though I’m no where near J.R.R. Tolkien’s rich diction, or the William Shakespeare’s witty, clever word play, or Emerson’s eloquent sentence construction, the more I’ve written, the better I’ve become at wrapping the reader around my finger.
An excellent book that has helped me to build better sentences is How To Write A Sentence by Stanley Fish. Although it sounds trivial, the art of composing a sentence should be taken seriously and meticulously. So go buy that book. Your prose will be nothing short of amazing. 🙂
The Body of the Article
So now that you’ve given the reader a boner with your opening line, it’s time to finish strong. Sorry if that sounded raunchy.
Most of the time, the bodies of my articles are based off experience AND evidence based research. Both are important in fitness writing if you 1) want to have enough to talk about and 2) don’t want to come off as a one-sided, pompous asshole who only reads PubMed on Saturday nights.
However. If you’re writing on topics that center around your own opinion (i.e. my Fitness Celebrity article), you better have the chops to back up your main argument. You better have jokes funnier than Dave Chapelle. Moreover, you better have balls the size of mangos to take criticism and own up to what you say.
A few resources I’ve used to sharpen my writing craft:
Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert
On Writing Well – William Zinsser
Nobody Wants To Read Your Sh*t – Steven Pressfield
Finding The Best Time To Write
The last step in my process is finding a time of day that makes me feel alive enough to create content. I’ve found between the hours of 7am-1pm are best. Any time after 1pm, I’m shutting down from creativity, and reserving energy for in-person coaching.
Once you’ve discovered the hours for your creative apex, START WRITING. I can’t reiterate enough how important it is to simply write to become better. And it shouldn’t be a problem because chances are, you love it enough to set time aside to do so. Do I love it enough? Absolutely.
In fact, NO ONE is asking me to do any of this. 220 articles came into fruition because I made an active choice to create.
And I’d argue if you’re having trouble creating content, you need to check in with yourself to see if this is truly what you want to do. If you’re living through your heart space, passion work should come freely and easily. Happy writing!