Thoughts on a Writer's Ab(s)

No, it’s not a beret, but it might as well be.

Now that I’m supposed to be a serious and devoted writer, I’m going to focus on writing only the most serious and dedicated of posts on the austere topic of the writing life.

Yeah, I’m not buying it either.

To those of you who worried that my change in status from employed dreamer with novelistic ambitions to gentleman of leisure and still-unpublished writer extraordinaire would somehow alter the content of this site, this post should put you at ease.

It’s a nice rambling post for a Sunday morning… Enjoy!

Yesterday, I was just signing off to spend some time with the Ann and Jeff VanderMeer’s excellent SF/F pirate anthology Fast Ships, Black Sails.


When I got a tweet from a fellow who used to work for me a long time ago. And, well, you know me…


One tweet leads to another and suddenly Dustin Wax of Writer’s Technology Companion gets in on the action:


And now I’m left with a rather interesting visual: Dustin’s singular, well-defined ab.

We can all laugh at the joke because writing, well… writing really isn’t a contact sport, now is it?

A Writer’s Ab(s)

No, there’s nothing I like more than sitting at the cafe, pecking away at the keyboard with a nice demitasse of espresso and a cinnamon roll decorating my little table. Yep.

So, the writing life doesn’t lend itself to keeping fit… or does it?

Below is a picture of Cory Doctorow and Jeff VanderMeer (swiped from Cory’s Flickr page). While these guys may not be in the next Calvin Klein skivvies poster shot on Times Square, they’re in pretty good shape for a pair of wordslingers.

[NB: Jeff, if you’re stopping in you can thank me for retouching the original. πŸ˜‰ ]

If you follow Jeff VanderMeer, you probably know that he does a bit of weightlifting. If you’re a long time reader of this blog, you know that I used to be a pretty avid runner.

I’m pointing this out, because part of focusing my life on writing is getting another shot at being healthy in every sense. When I was really running, I used to do 6 miles a day in about 30 minutes. For the non-runners, that’s pretty fast. Of course, I’m a long way from there today, but I’m committed to working my way back.

My wife and I just joined a new gym. She has a pretty amazing story of her own, which I’ll introduce in the not too distant future when we launch her blog. For the moment though, I’ll just pop in a promo video from the gym:

After just a few weeks (of less than regular attendance, but attendance nonetheless), I’m already feeling the benefits. I’m running at less than a third of my former pace, but I am running. I have more energy. I’m crackling with ideas and plans.

I feel more alive.

I’m always up for some reason not to be writing. Most of those reasons are a matter of simple avoidance or fear. However, working on my writer’s ab (singular) is one that I’m not willing to lump in with the rest. While the sedentary work of writing may not provide natural opportunities for exercise, working on the Writer’s Ab(s), is as vital as any other writing exercise.

YOUR TURN: How are you working your Writer’s Ab(s)? What advice do you have for others?

11 thoughts on “Thoughts on a Writer's Ab(s)

  1. I am now filled with visions of writerly Ab – thanks so much for the awe inspiring image, lol. Personally, I try to do yoga every day. I don’t. But probably about 4 out of 7, which is better than none at all.

    Congratulations, btw, on your bold decision and embracing your Destiny. I’m awe struck.

    uppington´s last blog post..Unfolding Your Potential

  2. I think it’s GREAT how you are able to look ahead and see the glass half full and not half empty. I’d like to think I’d handle such a situation even half as maturely and embrace the great big unknown and write.

    I agree writing may not lend itself to the most healthy lifestyle (coffee and junk food are my writing comfort foods too) but luckily we can justify it – the higher our word counts the higher our weight can skyrocket… there always will be time to work out during the book tour πŸ˜‰

    lisek16´s last blog post..Love it

  3. Did you know that science has validated that laughing exercises your abs? Mine just got an extra workout! LOL! I love being active so I run, box, lift weights, do stair workouts, dance, jump rope and for nearly a year I run or walk my errands including grocery shopping. Alas, I do not resemble anything close to a beach body but I am healthy and strong. πŸ™‚

    Karen Swim´s last blog post..In Celebration of Reading and Writing

  4. Exercise? Ugh. I had to quit running 3-4- months ago due to a stress fracture and fell completely off the wagon. I’d like to get going again but I’m pushing 50 (hard!) and it just gets more and more difficult to get going again.

    Then there’s the full-time job and the 9 year old…

    p.s. I wish you much wonderfulness in your new adventure!

    Liz C´s last blog post..Sign of the times

  5. Ah Jamie,

    As I sit in my ABode, I find myself ABerrant in my writing life. Lately, I have tried to ABstain from the ABoral distractions of everyday life with not much success. Daily tasks are ABradant as they attempt to ABscond with my writing dream. However, ABba encourages from the iPod to β€œTake a Chance on Me,” ABut the distractions, pull myself from the AByss, and ABandon myself to the joy that is writing. ABundant thanks yous for the gentle nudge and reminder …. and enjoy your adventure!

  6. @uppington Thanks and glad I could inspire you. πŸ™‚ I think I inspired some people at the gym today when I was doing mountain climbers and my shirt went whooop! Fairly certain, I heard the soft, dulcet tones of people retching between sets.

    @Alex I have the same problem. I love to eat!

    @LizC Thanks! πŸ™‚ I know what stress fractures are like. When I was running like a madman, I was a month away from my first marathon. Stress fracture. Ugh. It’s hard to get going again. Hang in there!

    @Amy You get the prize for most creative response! Not sure what that prize might be, maybe I’ll post a picture of my Ab(s). No, on second thought, I’m now recalling what I said to uppington. Nope. I’m not going to be responsible for what happens to people’s keyboards when they see something like that. πŸ™‚ [p.s. Thanks!]

  7. @lisek16 It should be a wild ride, but I learned the hard way that you have to embrace life because it’s the only one you have. Might sound trite and overused, but it is so so so true! Maybe soon I’ll tell the story of how I went from 200 to 400 and back to 200lbs again all in the space of 36 months. That’s one that will make you put down the bean burritos right now!

    @Karen Now I know why my ab(s) hurt so much after today’s workout. I was laughing the whole time! My wife is going to be the most amazing trainer after she gets done whipping me into shape… if we can stop laughing at my pratfalls long enough to get in a workout.

    p.s. I’m sure you’re not doing yourself justice either, but we’ll let that slide, “Ms. Jackson” πŸ˜‰

  8. Jamie,

    When you refer to ‘bringing back sexy’ above, are you referring to Justin Timberlake’s song from a few years ago? (I’m bringing sexy back).

    Personally, I live in a small country town in the central part of South Korea, so I have several good hils around which the walking tracks make for very enjoyable exercise. Also, a short bike ride through the rice fields doesn’t seem to do any harm either.

    Andrew´s last blog post..Thoughts for a nation in shock

  9. @Andrew Sadly, it appears that I am. So now I must quote Cartman from South Park:

    “If this is what’s cool now I think I’m done. I no longer have any connection to this world. I’m gonna go home and kill myself.”

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