Let's be honest. In January 2018 I've been cycling via my online game more than I've been writing. It's a bit embarrassing because Within These Trees is pretty darn close to being finished. I have needed a bit of a break from the book though, and during this break good and useful thoughts for improvements have drifted up from my subconscious. So, in a way, the break has been useful.
I've also been thinking about something that has bounced around in my brain in the past. It's a question that probably only occurs to a small group of people who have bounced between athletics and creativity in their life. Here's the question - what is more difficult, to train towards a fitness goal, or to write / paint / compose etc.
My take is that it is FAR HARDER to create, than it is to train.
One part of this is probably the social side. Creating artistically (in my case writing) is pretty much unapologetically a solitary and lonely endeavour. Even if you had a writing buddy, and he or she was sitting on the other side of the desk from you, you would still be alone in your own world and your friend couldn't help you at all. In athletics, sure there are those lonely misty mornings when you're out on your bike alone. But there are also all those group rides, or buddy rides, when your friend who is a little bit stronger than you are pushes you past your limits and you improve by hanging onto his or her wheel for an hour. Then there are things like Strava that build a lot of social interaction into the workout, and make it less of a solitary thing.
But I think the most important difference is that in athletics, when you're training towards a certain goal - you both know what the goal is, and how to get there. You don't know either of these things when you're writing.
In athletics, if you want to raise your FTP score 10 points, you know that that's your goal, and you can choose from a variety of widely available workouts meant to help you achieve exactly what you need. My online program alone has a few different FTP training programs a cyclist could choose from.
With writing - you don't really know what your goal is. Even if you've done a plot outline of your book, as you write, things shift and slide and characters and events move around on you. And, you don't really know how to get there (wherever "there" is). You write and write and write and in a way, you are creating a big pile of clay, creating it out of nothing, which is good. But then you realize you have a big pile of clay on your hands, and you need to start carving. And nowhere in that process is the way forward really all that clear.
Partly therefore, I think I've been cycling in January, rather than writing, because it is easier. Jump on the bike, choose a workout, and pedal. Listen to a podcast or a playlist. And pedal. No matter how brutal the ride is... it's easier than writing.
I'm Chris Tomasini.