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Comparing Exercising and Writing

While I was running inside today (it’s rainy and cold out!), I overheard several students talking about how they were walking for a Phys Ed class. I wonder… is exercising for class like reading for class? It’s enjoyable if you choose to on your own, but as soon as someone makes you do it, it just isn’t as exciting anymore?

I think there are a lot of parallels between exercising and my teaching: just like lifting weights or trying to add mileage to your run, the more you do it, the better you get. Writing ability is, in many ways, like a muscle. You have to do it regularly in order to build it up. You need to have good form while you practice in order to ensure that you are working the right muscles and not injuring yourself. (You need to focus on one aspect of your writing that you know needs improvement so that you can write better eventually.)

I think the rewards are harder to see in writing. When you are running or lifting weights, your improved strength is obvious when you can lift 40 more pounds than this time last month or when you can run the entire 3 miles without walking breaks. It is harder to see that you have improved your style and make your prose better, that you are creating stronger arguments, or that you are becoming a better researcher.

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