Tuesday, January 26, 2010

This only seems like a digression. Really it's about writing.

According to research, interval training helps you burn three times the calories you burn during regular workouts. Those of us who are time-challenged and a tad bit rotund know interval training is the shiznit.

Interval training is short bursts of manic working out (speeding up the heart rate) combined with longer periods of regular working out (bringing the heart rate back to normal). Apparently we burn a lot of calories getting our heart rates back to normal. We burn tons getting our rate back to normal a bunch of times instead of just once.

Another reason interval training works: When you only have to give your all for short bursts of time (think 15 seconds!), you actually give your all for the whole 15 seconds.

You know what I mean. I've done some long stretches on the old treadmill--and honestly much of it is just going through the motions--not trying as much as being carried along on the relentless drone of the conveyor belt. If I can burn just as many calories through 20 minutes on the elliptical (with 15 15-second bursts that get my heart going like a Grateful Dead drum solo), I'm all for it.

In my quest for more time, I'm considering if interval writing might produce three times as much good writing. I tend to aim for large blocks of writing time. Here's what happens in large blocks of time: I think I have so much time that an email check here and there doesn't matter. I read a blog for inspiration, which links to another blog, and perhaps a stop at Go Fug Yourself and next thing I know, I've read the entire cache of Cheezburger sites and written under a page.

Large blocks of time are harder to find the older I get, but I can usually create a half hour out of thin air. With interval writing, I get in a couple 30-minute blocks of nose-to-the-grindstone writing per day interspersed throughout so I can get my writing heart rate back to normal in between. Absolutely no breaks during the interval writing block! A single break can take over the entire block if you're not careful.

If you're having a hard time getting anything written lately, try interval writing. You gotta have 30 minutes lying around somewhere--while the chops are in the oven, while you're waiting for Idol to start, while you're supposed to be paying attention in class. Write at a pace that raises your creative heart rate--no editing, no reading through, no emailing your writing group about whether your main character should be 17 or 18. Commit to straight-up cardiovascular writing. Let me know how it goes.


  1. Oh, my heck. I love the term "cardiovascular writing"! That is pure genius. And what I already do, BTW.


  2. Great analogy. I'm up for trying anything that will improve my productivity.

  3. That's brilliant, that is. Thanks, Marie.

  4. I'm all about cardiovascular writing! It's a little hard to get into something in 30 minutes though. But I guess any progress is good progress right?

  5. I wrote for like 3 hours straight today. My neck is stiff and my knees hurt from sitting Indian style (is it politically correct to still call it that?) the entire time. What would we call that? Marathon writing?