Train Your Writing Muscle Like an Elite Athlete

Paul Patterson
The Startup
Published in
4 min readMar 31, 2020

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As a health and wellness expert and content creator, I often try to find areas where my two passions can overlap. In particular, the principles of fitness training can help you succeed in your sport as well as become a powerful writer.

In order to hone your craft and improve, it’s crucial to practice. As you write more and more, your skillsets will grow and you’ll become more efficient. However, this will only happen if you design your training to do so.

Here are the principles of fitness training, according to a U.S. Olympic coach, and how you can use them to bolster your writing!

Individuality

Every writer is different and will respond to training differently. Some will respond well to a high volume of work over a longer period of time while others will respond better to working at a high intensity for a shorter duration.

Furthermore, some writers prefer putting pen to paper while many of us choose to do so digitally.

All of these preferences are exclusive to the writer, and at the end of the day, each writer is unique. Find a training method that you enjoy and get writing.

Specificity

Whatever your writing niche is — B2B copywriter, cannabis technical writer, mystery author, etc. — you need a specific set of skills to succeed. If you want to get better in your niche, you have to train in a way that strengthens those necessary skills.

For example, it would be ineffective for a freelance blogger to train by writing a bunch of cover letters. Although they’d improve their cover letter-writing ability, it would do little to help them with an educational blog post.

Writers shouldn’t limit themselves, though. It’s always beneficial to venture out and try writing new types of content.

That being said, if you want to hone your skills in your niche, you have to train specifically to build those skills.

Progression

As much as we’d like to, we’ll never be able to achieve our greatest goals in just a day. We have to understand that success is a journey, and we must plan that journey with our goals in mind.

When training to improve your writing, it’s important to have a plan that allows you to get better and identify your progress.

Whether it’s writing a 1000-word blog post in under 2 hours or finishing your first book, these milestones will motivate you to carry on and continue improving.

Adaptation & Overload

Over time, you’ll become accustomed to a certain type of training. You’ll be able to write cohesive pieces faster and with less effort. From a productivity standpoint, this adaptation is great; it means you’ll be able to easily do more work in less time.

From a growth standpoint, on the other hand, it means it’s time to make things harder — this is overloading. Increasing word counts, decreasing allowed writing time, and writing on more difficult topics are all excellent ways to challenge yourself.

By progressively making things harder, you can continue to strengthen your abilities and grow as a writer.

Recovery

Recovery is just as crucial for writers as it is for athletes. After a long day of writing — or in many cases, a few days — it’s important to give your body a break.

While it’s rewarding, writing for long periods of time is tough on both your mind and body. There are two equally beneficial ways to combat this; I suggest doing both.

Break up long writing days by including active recovery periods between bouts of writing. Taking a short walk outside or stretching are both great ways to give yourself some time to recover and reenergize before writing again.

Additionally, it’s just as important to rest after you’ve finished writing for the day or the week. Stepping away from the computer and exercising work-life boundaries will allow you to rest, enjoy hobbies, and spent time in the company of family and good friends.

Recovery is necessary for success; without it, you’ll quickly burn out. Always give yourself time to rest your mind and body, however you choose to do so.

Reversibility

Each of us works diligently to be a successful writer, but all of that hard work can be lost. Just as you can strengthen your writing muscle through training, a lack of writing can allow it to become weaker.

This won’t happen overnight. However, if you neglect writing for a while, you might find that you have some work to do to get better again.

Photo: Lukas via Pexels

Training Yourself to Be a Powerful Writer

By training ourselves to write powerfully — like a sprinter trains to take off explosively — we can transcend our creative limits. To do this, it’s vital to understand the principles of fitness training: individuality, specificity, progression, adaptation, overload, recovery, and reversibility.

More importantly, though, we have to know how we can apply these principles to ourselves as writers.

Each and every one of us has the power to become a world-class writer… we just have to work smarter and harder.

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Paul Patterson
The Startup

Content Creator | Lifelong Learner | Health & Wellness Enthusiast