Samurai Jack, the NFL Draft & Building Writing Endurance

Anyone catch the NFL drafts last night? I only caught a snippet cuz 1) I'm a girl and B) I hate football. BUT. The broadcast drew me in for a sec (that nifty silver DESK thing helped, too, cuz I likes the shiny-shiny).

Anyway, you know why it caught me? Cuz, as I mentioned in a comment over on Sara Enni's blog (she, too, mixed beefy uniformed dudes with writing in today's post) some of these players are having the most important and awesome day of their lives.

They got drafted to pro! Players hearing their names called must be just like writers getting that agent call. It. Changed. Their. Lives. For good. Wow. But you know what? It wadn't no fluke, that thar call. Those guys pushed themselves for days, months and YEARS* in college ball to get to that point.

Which naturally brings me to Samurai Jack.
 Zomg! J.J. Abrams *might* be producing the Samurai Jack 3D animated movie! You know Abrams! LOST? FRINGE? CLOVERFIELD (which I sorta hated, but, okay, it had a great monster)?? 

So over on Voidwalker's blog, he recently asked what kind of tattoo you might get to celebrate your future publication. I told him mine would be a visage of Samurai Jack, followed by the words "Jump Good." Here's what I said:

"It'll remind me of the episode when Jack saw these creatures who could spring into the air. Jack thought it was all profound and magic and that they could fly. But they said, "No. We just jump good." Then they showed him how to do it -- by months and months of plyometric muscle training (and a music montage. Gotta love the montages). And when his arch-nemesis, Aku, found him and was like, "Wow, you fly!" Samurai Jack was like, "No. Jump good." A profound testament to animated endurance.

So. Endurance, then. Training, then. And for writing? *Some tips, then:

  1. Challenge yourself. Don't go for the easy metaphor, the quick-but-shallow scene. Find that chunky, painful passage and write the hell out of it. Until it hurts. Until it doesn't hurt anymore. And do it again.
  2. Do short reps. Learn to write quickly so you can bust through deadlines and make word count - and get on to other novels so you continue to grow. Short, timed writing exercises will do this for you.
  3. Alternate intensity and duration. Athletes know that interval training builds endurance. So alternate quick, 30-minute writing sessions with day-long marathons where possible.
  4. Rest. Take plenty of breaks and whole days off. No, I'm serious. You need the rest - it's what builds muscle (and writing chops). Besides, living is what gives you material, right?
  5. Crosstrain. Do some actual, yanno, exercise. Focus on other personal goals. You'll prime yourself for achievement in writing by finding success in other disciplines, like fitness. Or welding.
  6. Go pro. The single best writing advice I like is to write some non-fiction. Submit articles to online article sites, write for your local paper, or learn to query and write articles for national magazines. I've been a professional freelance writer for about 7 years and it's taught me to whittle down my writing like nothing else.
  7. Reward yourself. Remember the CWSwoRP? Write for 25 minutes and then go giggle at some tiny tamarin faces at the zoo. Get through a new chapter and then eat some coconut cake or, yanno, waste an entire half-day on the Sims 3.
So, you ready? Down! Set! HIKE!!


JustineDell | April 23, 2010 at 12:54 PM

I'm totally printing this out and posting it by my computer. You're the bomb. Thanks!


Zoe C. Courtman | April 23, 2010 at 12:57 PM

Aw, thanks Justine! Hope the tips prove useful!

arlee bird | April 23, 2010 at 1:52 PM

I've read a lot of other bloggers who would probably disagree with you, but you espouse the philosophy that is totally in line with mine. I've been preaching something similar to this on my own blog and in comments to others crying about having to work too hard at writing. I will save this link to post on my next rant about this topic. You done good.

A to Z Challenge Reflections Mega Post

Zoe C. Courtman | April 23, 2010 at 4:30 PM

Hey, Lee! Thanks for popping in and commenting! Yesh, this writing stuff is work - and not always fun work, either. But, aye, it must be done, lad. Must be done. :)

Voidwalker | April 23, 2010 at 7:49 PM

Such good info... I especially liked the part where you put my name in a clickable red lettering. oooooh aaaaaaah


Zoe C. Courtman | April 23, 2010 at 8:25 PM

LOLZ, Voidwalker. How could I not give you the shiny red? :D

Anonymous | April 23, 2010 at 9:36 PM

Samurai high five!!! Great post, Zoe!

Certainly, you can't just approach every scene with the same technique. I LOVE how you've broken it down into different exercises. FANtastic! :D

divaluxe | April 24, 2010 at 10:12 AM

LOVE Samurai Jack! And LOVE the way you think. When I grow up, I want to write like you.

Alexandra Shostak | April 24, 2010 at 10:47 AM

Haha I love the writerly endurance list! I definitely practice the speed writing thing, along with cross training. :)

Anonymous | April 26, 2010 at 1:59 PM

This is such a great post! The parallel between athletic and writerly training is kind of amazingly spot-on.
I totally agree with your advice on writing non-fiction. It teaches so much about structure, detail, and storytelling.
Awesome post!

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) | April 26, 2010 at 4:58 PM

Great post. And yay, finally managed to post a comment. Computer weirdness seems rectified :)

Zoe C. Courtman | April 26, 2010 at 5:49 PM

Hey, Maria! Thanks for the mutual Samurai Jack love!!

Thanks for popping in, Alexandra!

Hey, Sarah, you made it! Thanks for visiting - I know, right? That parallel is so true. Thanks!

Hi, Lindsay! *whew* Your comment appeared! I was beginning to worry that things were beginning to go FUBAR. :D

Slamdunk | April 27, 2010 at 10:43 PM

Clever approach and good advice. I think rest is commonly overlooked. Just to note--I watched too much of the NFL Draft--well the reruns of it after the kids went to bed as I am a hopeless case.

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