After reading Bill Connolly’s recent interview with Jonathan Fields, and spending the day reading Jonathan Fields’ latest book, Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance, I was struck by the similarities between writing a brand-building book and starting an exercise program.

The more I thought about the parallels between writing and exercise, the more I realized they were similar in many, many ways.

12 ways writing resembles exercise

Below are just some of the similarities I noticed. You, probably, can come up with dozens of additional similarities that I overlooked.

  1. Both are easy to start, but hard to finish. It’s easy to sign-up for a gym membership, and it’s easy to enroll in a weekend writing and publishing workshop.  The hard part is to maintain consistent progress after the burst of initial enthusiasm wears off.
  2. Success comes from daily commitment. Writing success, like exercise, comes from consistent daily progress. Success occurs when your writing sessions become a habit, or daily ritual. Just as you wouldn’t want to exercise once a week for 8 hours, writing success is based on short, frequent writing sessions.
  3. You have to start somewhere. If you’ve never skied, it’s doubtful that you could train for the Winter Olympics in just 6 to 12 months. Both writing and exercising requires learning and mastering new tasks, starting with the basics and by taking small steps.
  4. Having a personal trainer, or coach, helps you enjoy faster progress. Working with coaches and trainers helps you save time learning new tasks and creating realistic expectations of what you should do during your daily workouts and writing sessions.
  5. Both are easy to overdo. Another reason that personal trainers and writing coaches can be so helpful is that they will monitor your progress from the big picture point of view. It’s easy to hurt yourself if you push yourself too hard while exercising. Likewise, you can easily burn out if you engage in day-long, marathon writing sessions or all-nighters, rather than short, frequent sessions.
  6. There will always be reasons to slack off. As you move forward, your commitment will be tested; you’ll be faced with temptations to skip a workout or a writing session. There will always be work or family-related issues demanding your time. Having a coach or trainer provides an accountability factor that will help you resist temptation.
  7. You have to track your progress. Tracking your progress in a way that lets you can see measurable progress, plays an important role in writing and exercise success. Exercise and writing rarely occurs in huge leaps; progress often comes so slowly that you’re apt to overlook it. When you track your progress, however, your incremental progress becomes far more visible.
  8. It’s never too early, or too late, to start, but…. It’s never too early to begin an exercise program or start to write a book. And, it’s never too late to start. However, the earlier you start, the more time you’ll have to enjoy the benefits of a brand-building book or a healthier lifestyle.
  9. Both require self-confidence. If you’ve never exercised, or thought of yourself as physically fit, you may find it difficult–perhaps, even dangerous–to start a fitness program. Likewise, if you don’t think of yourself as either a “natural writer” or have “qualifications” to write–like a Ph.D. or published research papers–you may not feel “qualified” to write a book. Once again, the support of an objective book coach or personal trainer can be more convincing than support from friends or family members.
  10. There will always be others better than you, as well as others not as good as you. Avoid casting covetous glances at those lifting weights 2, 3, or 4 times as heavy as yours. Likewise, avoid allowing yourself to be intimidated by multi-title authors and polished speakers. At one point, even the biggest experts were just starting out, too.
  11. Both are never finished. The health benefits of an exercise program can quickly evaporate if you return to a sedentary lifestyle–especially if you also return to your previous fast-food (and lots of it!) diet habits. Likewise, your writing will lost some of its luster and readable style if you don’t continue to write on a consistent basis. Luckily, after finishing your book, you’ll soon discover ways to re-address the topic and create information products, (i.e., articles, podcasts, reports, speeches, tip sheets, and videos, etc.) based on it.
  12. Commitment and confidence leads to success; success leads to more confidence. It’s impossible to plot every possible success scenario that will come from confidence in your ability to try something new, accompanied by a commitment to continue moving forward.

No guarantees, but lots of likelihood

There are no guarantees that your book will transform your career by building a strong personal brand, just as there’s no guarantees that an exercise program will make up for years of smoking and overeating, or prevent you from getting hit by a bus.

But, in both cases, the investment you make will insulate you from career or health stagnation. In worse case scenarios, i.e., you lose your job or a health problem emerges, your published book or your improved metabolism and circulation will provide a better that will help you quickly get back on track.

To learn more

I gained a lot from Bill Connolly’s interview with Jonathan Fields and reading Jonathan’s Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance. Uncertainty provided a new perspective, which lead to this article.  I encourage you to read its table of contents & first chapter online.

And, if I’ve overlooked any other ways that writing a brand-building book resembles exercise, please share your ideas as comments, below.


Roger C. Parker’s Published & Profitable offers a new perspective on writing a book. You can also download his free 99 Questions to Ask Before You Write and Self-publish a Brand-building Book