I’m not usually a fan of fitness magazines, but I found myself in a waiting room once before the era of cellphones, and I had forgotten to bring a book. I had to decide between twiddling my thumbs, staring off into space, or reading one of the magazines on the table next to me.
I picked up the magazine that was on top of the stack, which happened to be about fitness. I flipped through it and found an interesting article. It was all about the stuff you have to do to stay fit. You’ve seen the list: drink gallons of water every day, run thousands of miles, eat only organically grown super foods… One could grow old just reading the list.
But the kicker was the conclusion of the piece. The author noted that most people can’t do everything on the list perfectly. As a matter of fact, many people read about all the things they need to do and become frustrated. They think, I can’t do all this stuff, and they give up.
But the article advised if you can’t do everything, at least do something. Their premise was to start small, then add to your fitness regimen as you get used to each step. Their suggestion was to throw a handful of blueberries on your cereal each morning. Blueberries have tremendous antioxidant properties and are very beneficial to one’s health. I read the following in an article about antioxidants on WebMD.com:
Wild blueberries are the winner overall. Just one cup has 13,427 total antioxidants – vitamins A & C, plus flavonoids (a type of antioxidant) like querticin and anthocyanidin. That’s about 10 times the USDA’s recommendation, in just one cup! Cultivated blueberries have 9,019 per cup and are equally vitamin-rich.
The theory of blueberries made sense to me. Even though I read that article years ago, I still drop a handful of blueberries on my oatmeal every morning.
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Lately, I’ve been thinking about how to make a comparison between getting physically fit and getting fit as an author. There’s a lot to this writing business. I’ve heard people return from writers’ conferences feeling overwhelmed by all the information they’ve been trying to absorb: plotting, characterization, self-editing, point-of-view, editors, agents, self-publishing, just to name a few.
A new author may feel he/she has to incorporate every aspect of good writing in order to write that first novel, and may be too intimidated to try. “There’s no way I can do all that,” she says, and gives up.
But maybe there’s a blueberry way for writers to ramp up to speed. If new authors tackle one or two of the basics, they could begin to grow their skill and confidence. With time and attention to the craft, their writerly fitness would make them the Chuck Norrises of the literary community.
So TKZers: If you had to choose one or two things for new authors to concentrate on as they begin their writing adventure, what would you suggest?