Monday, May 13, 2013

What Burpees Taught Me About Writing

I recently completed a month of boot camp at the local gym.  It was HARD!  It's actually the second hardest gym class I've ever done, but because it was three times a week rather than one, it deserves the title of "hardest class ever."

I'm not the most fit guy.  I'm kinda skinny, with a few spare bicycle tires around the middle (not a full spare tire -- a little smaller).  But I don't do manly sports.  I don't do gyms.  I don't do burpees.

People know this about me and so they sometimes ask why I do something so hard.  I describe the workouts and how I couldn't do them all, and they sometimes ask why I don't switch to a class I can handle.

Years ago, out of the blue, I decided I wanted to take a kickboxing class.  I had spent four years as a couch potato, so to go from that to kickboxing had people wondering if (a) I was out of my mind, or, (b) if someone was threatening me.  I wanted to do it because I thought it was fun.  I couldn't do everything in the class, though, and I was sore all week until the next class.

So why do something I can't fully do?

What I've learned is that those physical limits my body has are really psychological.  When I think I can't push any further, my instructor shouts at me and suddenly I'm pushing harder.  When I'm ready to give up, my instructor challenges to me to go just a little longer, and I do it.

I do the extreme classes because I've found I love pushing my limits.  I love reaching the edges of what I think I'm capable of and then pushing just a little further.  It's when I'm in that uncertain territory, beyond my comfort zone, pushing with all my might, that I find what I'm truly capable of.  It's there that I learn how strong I am.

So, as of writing this, I'm in the midst of setting up a meeting with a trainer at the gym to figure out if the next step for me should be another month of boot camp or a month of once-weekly personal training.  I want to challenge myself and venture further into that unknown zone.

That unknown zone is where true transformation occurs.

As I was walking home from my last boot camp class, I got to thinking about how this physical journey (filled with those never-ending gawdawful burpees) is a metaphor for writing.

As writers, we all believe we have limitations.  We admire other writers and wish we could write like them, knowing we will never be able to.

That's all false.  Those are psychological barriers that have no basis in reality.  If you push past those barriers, if you enter that zone of uncertainty and transformation, then you'll find that's where your true creative energy lies.  You will immerse yourself in possibilities and potentials.

If people tell you that you can't do it, that you will never measure up -- don't listen to them!  Find that person that will tell you to push harder, dig deeper, and write stronger.  With the right motivation, internal or external, you can enter realms you never thought possible and take journeys you never imagined.

Like with the gym, it will hurt and it will be painful -- thankfully, there are no burpees -- but it will reward you.  You will grow, you will discover, and you will learn that there are no limits to your creative potential.

Cameron D James is a writer of m/m erotic romance.  His first eBook, Autumn Fire, will be published by Carnal Passions in July.


Julie Eberhart Painter said...

I was attracted by and lost in the Burpees concept. Where I come from Burpees is a seed company and the trail gardens or fields were in CA and PA, near my childhood home.

Big Mike said...

Ah, skinny. I remember it well but so long ago. Welcome aboard, bud.

Michael Davis (
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2012)

Cameron D James said...

Hahaha -- I hadn't thought of multiple meanings of burpees...

For anyone unfamiliar what a burpee is, check out this video...

(Disclaimer: I watched it on mute, since I'm in a coffeeshop, so I don't know what's on the audio track, but it looks harmless.)