Tips for Writers: Love the Burn


The key to building muscles, oddly enough, is to regularly and repeatedly expose yourself to pain. Not too much, not too little. Too much—torn muscles, tendonitis, bone spurs—is bad news. Too little is no news at all. Muscles grow when they’re stressed just enough to create micro-tears, producing those “feel the burn” moments that stimulate the body to execute repairs. Result? New tissue forms in the stressed areas, resulting in stronger, thicker muscles. But you have to stress the muscles over and over again for the gains to add up to a permanently changed body, a new you.

Writing is the same. It’s the repeated creative discomfort, the micro-tears, that cause you to grow as a writer. Does it hurt? Good! It needs to. The stages of pain look something like this:

  • Writer’s Angst: Wimpy Me: “What if I write crap?” Writer Me: “So write crap—at least you’ll have written. Start now. Feel the burn, baby!”
  • Writing Badly: Wimpy Me: “I don’t like what I’ve written!” Writer Me: “So what? This is the vomit draft, remember? Now, heave!”
  • Re-Writing: Wimpy Me: “Ew! I hate what I wrote!” Writer Me: “So fix it. It can only get better. Push those edits, fix it all—give me one more rep, two more reps—feel the burn!

Months later… Wimpy Me: “It doesn’t hurt as much now, and the other day someone at my gym (writers group) actually said “Hey, nice body (manuscript)!” Writer Me: “Told you! But you still don’t have six-pack abs (brilliant character development) or massive pecs (rich narrative flow). You might turn out to be a real writer yet. But for now, it’s back to the gym, baby!”

Professional lifters never stop lifting. They live in the discomfort zone and learn to love it. Because they know it’s the key to building their muscles. Professional writers are the same. They live in the literary discomfort zone where they never stop building their creative muscles. They learn to…

Love the burn! 

        “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”     ~Ernest Hemingway

“What doesn’t kill us gives us something new to write about.” ~Julie Wright

“Being a writer is a very peculiar sort of a job: it’s always you versus a blank sheet of paper (or a blank screen) and quite often the blank piece of paper wins.” ~Neil Gaiman

   “Imagination is like a muscle. I found out that the more I wrote, the bigger it got.” ~Philip José Farmer

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in Humor, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

51 Responses to Tips for Writers: Love the Burn

  1. Very motivational esp for the ones who get discouraged after a round of writer’s block. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Bill Sweeney says:

    Great advice and quotes, Mitch.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Fantastic!!! Awesome advice and narrating skills to boot! Love the quotes as well! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  4. LOL! Well said, Mitch. Writing (and exercise) is really good for masochists. Just embrace the pain, you’ll feel so much better. Yeah, right. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Lisa Beth says:

    Believe it or not, I was looking for some tips to challenge me today! Right on time, thanks Mitch.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Ah dang. Goodbye excuses and back to my reps, then. Thanks Mitch – needed this kick in the pants today!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. brunniegetchell says:

    Perfect timing! I was asked yesterday to be a guest blogger for someone and I panicked. What if it’s not good enough? What if it’s crap? Haha!

    Thanks for the words of encouragement 🙂 Needed this today.


    Liked by 1 person

  8. Fantastic analogy. I got a real laugh on this! I’m going to put my burn to the test this weekend!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Great analogy for an ex dancer like me. I would never leave a performance early because the ol head was was a doing number on me! Thanks Mitch.


    Liked by 1 person

  10. Tony Fine says:

    True comparison. Every day I try to feel both these burns.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. revruss1220 says:

    LOVE this! I’ve got to print it and post it somewhere I can see it every day. Thanks.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Nancy Ruegg says:

    Thanks for the graphic image of a first draft, Mitch: the vomit draft! I’ve been told the first draft is almost always lousy for almost every writer. That helps me gag through the beginning efforts of my own pieces and projects. So glad I also have a writers group challenging me to grow my writer muscles! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Tina says:

    Love writing! Practice! Practice! Practice! Yup.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Thanks for advice. Great analogy.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Aquileana says:

    Excellent… I agree with you:L Pain can be the most productive when it comes to Writing… and Arts in general. Love & best wishes, Mitch! 🍀😘

    Liked by 1 person

  16. MegClift says:

    Okay, I’ll keep going. Just as long as you don’t want me to do real sit-ups or anything…

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Merry Lark says:

    This was helpful! Encouraging! Thanks!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Seems like we were kind of on the same page with our posts 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Love this, absolutely spot on!!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. MZ says:

    Good tips for bloggers

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Good advice especially for people like me who don’t consider themselves a writer but are trying it anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Same thing holds true for creating art, Mitch. You definitely speak my language here! God bless you big time, my wise friend!! ☺️

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Smitha V says:

    The tips were very encouraging. Thank you for sharing them. Am currently totally in the ” wimpy me” zone

    Liked by 1 person

  24. hannahtk says:

    An entertaining and fitting analogy. Beautifully done Mitch!

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Andrea Harris says:

    No pain, no gain. I’m singing John Mellencamp’s, ” Hurt So Good,” as I hobble back to the keyboard!

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Andrea Harris says:

    This. I am a terrible texter. But I can write!

    Liked by 2 people

  27. Nazma Khan says:

    damm it’s though…love from India!

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Pingback: My Top Ten Blog Posts of 2018 | Mitch Teemley

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