You can learn a lot about writing well from bodybuilders.

1. Develop a program.

Bodybuilders have to decide which exercises they’ll do on which days.

For you, Writer, you must also choose what your writing regimen will be. Me? I write M-Sat with Sunday off to rest my weary brain cells.

2. Practice good form.

Bodybuilders must learn how to do each exercise properly, including full extension of movement, proper stance and posture, etc.

Writer, you must associate with writers, agents and editors. Attend conferences, read books and blogs that teach the art of writing. Education is a key element to being able to craft an appealing story.

3. Lift to fatigue.

Bodybuilders stress their muscles, by pushing them to their extreme limits (while still using good form).

Writer, you might sometimes be tempted to quit a writing session early because the words aren’t coming fast and easy. I propose that you write to fatigue–because just like in building muscles, you may find that once you break through the barrier you have even greater strength and range of motion in your writing.

4. Change your eating habits.

Bodybuilders must eat the right foods to feed growing muscles. Supplements are also a good addition.

Writers must read books in their genre–lots and lots of books. Agent/editor/publisher blogs are good supplements to a healthy writer’s diet.

5. Change your routine every four to six weeks.

Bodybuilders regularly change their routine because muscles can grow accustomed to certain exercises and stop their growth. Change shocks them into responding, and growing, again.

Writers, shaking things up can similarly spark your creativity. Too much of the same old, same old, and your writing gets, well, old. Try brainstorming a story from a different genre–even if you don’t write it, stretching your creative muscle in a different direction will only be beneficial to your writing.

6. Focus on the negative.

Bodybuilders know that the downward movement (negative) of each lift is at least as important as the upward (positive) movement. It’s the negative movement that tears the muscle fibers, allowing them to heal and grow even bigger in the process.

Writers–writing is not meant to be easy. Easy is Dr. Seuss. If its power you’re looking for, words that ring like music in your reader’s heart, then you’ve got to embrace the negative. Let your stories delve into the depths of human emotion so the highs are all the sweeter.


I want to have a strong body of work, don’t you? Then let’s Pump. It. Up.
I used this page to assist in writing this blog,
plus my own wealth of knowledge on the subject as I (gasp!) 
used to compete in bodybuilding competitions (like, eons ago, but still …)
HTML5 Icon



25 Comments on Pump Up Your Writing!

  1. Christine Danek
    February 9, 2011 at 1:04 pm (6 years ago)

    I’m ready to get pumped up. I love the way you wrote this. So true. I must go and start my program.

  2. Amparo Ortiz
    February 9, 2011 at 1:08 pm (6 years ago)

    OMG, you have just rocked. My. World. Bodybuilders FTW!

    AMAZING post!!

  3. Angela Felsted
    February 9, 2011 at 1:24 pm (6 years ago)

    This is awesome, and so true! I love how you compare bodybuilding to writing.

  4. Meredith
    February 9, 2011 at 1:42 pm (6 years ago)

    This actually makes a ton of sense! Thanks so much–I need to remember to embrace the negative.

  5. Paul Greci
    February 9, 2011 at 2:03 pm (6 years ago)

    Okay, I’m ready to pump some iron!!

  6. Pam Harris
    February 9, 2011 at 3:44 pm (6 years ago)

    Lol, one of the best analogies ever. 🙂

  7. Elena
    February 9, 2011 at 4:00 pm (6 years ago)

    Thanks, Ali. It’s good to step back and assess the method/mix up the madness once in awhile. Thanks for reminding me. Hope all’s well. 🙂

  8. Shari
    February 9, 2011 at 4:02 pm (6 years ago)

    My muscles are feeling this morning’s workout, so I could relate to both. Except I’m not a bodybuilder, but I needed to be pumped up today. So, thanks!

  9. Melissa
    February 9, 2011 at 4:13 pm (6 years ago)

    This is awesome! I love the comparison and it is so true!

  10. Carolyn V
    February 9, 2011 at 4:19 pm (6 years ago)

    I wanna pump it up! Love this post. I need to develop a better plan than I have. I need to do some more writing.

  11. Patti
    February 9, 2011 at 4:29 pm (6 years ago)

    Sometimes breaking through the barrier is all you need to open the floodgates, so I loved that advice about pushing to fatigue.

    Here’s to getting pumped.

  12. Amanda
    February 9, 2011 at 5:26 pm (6 years ago)

    Now, I’m ready to flex my writerly muscles! Rah!

  13. Jen Chandler
    February 9, 2011 at 6:04 pm (6 years ago)

    Fabulous post!!

    And YAAAAYYY!! I just saw the Revising Ninja! I’ll be adding her to my blog 😀

    Thanks for the encouragement!

  14. Elana Johnson
    February 9, 2011 at 6:08 pm (6 years ago)

    This is brilliant! Who knew I needed to focus on the negative? I love that part the most.

  15. Lindsey Edwards
    February 9, 2011 at 6:19 pm (6 years ago)

    My writing routine is five to six days a week. I work part time, so usually on my day(s) of work, I tend not to do the official sit down at the computer thing, but I take that day rather to do a bit o’ social networking, blog or jot down any ideas floating around in my head.

    Some great stuff here. Who would have thought I’d have so much in common with a bodybuilder?! Haha

  16. ali
    February 9, 2011 at 6:45 pm (6 years ago)

    Haha! I love the comments here. You guys are making me laugh and I love it! Keep it coming!

  17. Angie
    February 9, 2011 at 7:49 pm (6 years ago)

    I’m feeling pumped now! Great advice.

  18. Kindros
    February 9, 2011 at 8:11 pm (6 years ago)

    Amazing post. So many smiles. 🙂 Thanks for the tips.

    Reminds me, today is abs, lol.

  19. Carrie
    February 9, 2011 at 9:01 pm (6 years ago)

    Ali you have inspired me to write AND go to the gym! You are a miracle worker. Great post!

  20. Jonathon Arntson
    February 9, 2011 at 9:35 pm (6 years ago)

    I’m more of a Jazzercise boy (*wink*), but I can change that up for some bodybuilding!

  21. Abby Annis
    February 10, 2011 at 12:03 am (6 years ago)

    I love this! Great post, Ali! 🙂

  22. Melissa J. Cunningham
    February 10, 2011 at 2:10 am (6 years ago)

    I LOVED this post! Mainly because I love to work out and you can compare writing and things like running so easily. Good reminder to keep it new. Thank you so much!

  23. Sara B. Larson
    February 10, 2011 at 3:46 am (6 years ago)

    No flippin’ way – you were a muscly bound scary looking body builder?!?! (You aren’t actually scary looking at all, you’re very pretty, but I find all body builders of the male or female variety vaguely frightening. The really big ones anyway. Not just really toned people at the gym. I’m talking about the people on the magazines who look their arms are going to explode.) Anyway, wow, that’s cool! And what a great post. I don’t body build, but I do weight train, and the same principles apply. Never thought of it in terms of writing. 🙂

  24. L.T. Elliot
    February 11, 2011 at 6:41 pm (6 years ago)

    Excellent point! And funny, too! and you used to compete in bodybuilding competitions? Seriously?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comment *