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Jul 01, 2019 21:36:07

Writing is a sport

by @jasonleow | 735 words | 🐣 | 299💌

Jason Leow

Current day streak: 0🐣
Total posts: 299💌
Total words: 131541 (526 pages 📄)

Parent post: Compound Writing 2

@basilesamel recently wrote about applying a weight lifting workout concept of progressive overload to writing, which I thought was brilliant: 

I have consistency, what about growth? I might lack talent, but I can make up for it with prolificness. The question becomes: how can I write more at a higher speed without sacrificing quality? The answer might be "Progressive Overload", a famous concept in weight lifting.
If to some extent the brain works like a muscle, then it's probably possible to increase its performance over time. 

I'd been thinking about using progressive overload for my writing too. as I want to challenge myself and grow more, especially after my 200th post. More of the same old, same old felt boring, so seeking out newer, fresher challenges now. That's why I love bringing in sports analogies to writing. The fun and useful thing about using metaphors and analogies is in how it can inspire thinking laterally, in creative ways. And in this case, since sustaining the writing streak can sometimes feel like running a marathon, the overlapping opportunities are there. And I do enjoy using it, since sports performance and training was a formative part of my growing years in school, and I know enough about it to know how to apply it practically.

So, just to brainstorm some ideas for furthering my writing using sports training principles:

Progressive overload

In sports, this is often done by increasing the load, or the number of repetitions, or better quality performance. How do we progressively increase the challenge for writing?

  • Increase number of posts per day, to 2 or more?
  • Increase the number of words per post, over 200?
  • Increase the quality of the posts, by spending more time editing, checking?


Needless to say, our body does not improve after training if we didn't rest. As counterintuitive as it sounds, rest is part of training too, and discipline during rest is just as important as discipline during training. How do we incorporate periods of 'rest' in writing, while maintaining a streak?

  • Schedule posts in advance, so that you can take a break without breaking the streak
  • Write 'low intensity' posts for a period of time, e.g. stream-of-consciousness posts, talk about your day, or stuff you find easy to write about
  • Write difficult topics that take energy from you for 3 days, and then write about stuff that energises you for 2 days 
  • Or just take time off and break the streak?



This is a way of scheduling different aspects of your training in phases, so that you peak at a certain time (for say, a competition). I used to do competitive sport climbing, so I did a 4-3-2-1 cycle - 4 weeks of aerobic endurance, 3 weeks of power, 2 weeks of anaerobic endurance, 1 week rest. Some sorts of training have to be done before others, so the key here is to know which one goes first and after. How about writing? Are there different aspects of it that can be periodised this way?

  • 4 weeks of learning and applying new words, 3 weeks of editing and structuring text and grammar, 2 weeks of long-form writing, 1 week of low intensity 'rest' writing?  
  • alternate days of longer, in-depth posts versus shorter, easier posts?


Not all training is equally beneficial to sports performance. Weight training is useful for lifting weights, but less useful for say table tennis perhaps. Doing the appropriate training activities that transfer the right skills and abilities to the eventual event (e.g. competition) that you are training for is important. So, the question, here is, what are you writing for? To get better for professional writing? Or eventually use the content for publishing? Or just to have clarity of thought? 

  • Reflect and lay out the outcomes you wish from your writing here on 200wad
  • Check if the writing you're doing so far contributes to that outcome
  • Plan to write more posts in future aligned to outcome

Mental training

Sports is as much a mental game as a physical one. Visualisation, positive self-talk, managing expectations, emotions and motivation all contribute to peak performance. What's the mental game for writing?

  • Maintaining streak motivation and inspiration
  • Visualise in your head the writer you want to be, using as many of your 5 senses as possible (how would a peak writing experience look, sound, smell, taste, touch like?)
  • Self-talk in encouraging tone to keep going, don't beat yourself up

What sports principles here do you think are relevant and useful for writing?

  • 💎 2



  • 1

    @jasonleow great post! so much food for thought, might reply tomorrow or the day after :)

    Basile Samel avatar Basile Samel | Jul 01, 2019 17:03:06
    • 1

      @basilesamel thanks! Looking forward to reading it

      Jason Leow avatar Jason Leow | Jul 02, 2019 20:42:55
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