A few months ago, to supplement the trips to the gym that were getting fewer and farther between with my own and my daughter’s winter and spring ailments and commitments, I started working out once or twice a week to Jillian Michael’s “Ripped in 30” videos. And—because I’m me, and perhaps slightly warped—while I was listening to her yell that she was going to get “crazy-psycho” on me in her cardio segment, I got to thinking how great her regimen and philosophy would be for writers.
Philosphy? Yes indeed, Jillian Michaels has a whole philosophical thing going on in these videos. In between barking at you to get your technique right because she doesn’t want to get sued for landing you in the hospital, and in the congratulatory stretch at the end, she offers tidbits like this: “It’s so important in your life every day that you show up … Do the work, bring your A-game, get uncomfortable, because that’s where transformation happens”; “Bring your passion, focus, intensity, drive. This is not just about exercise”; “I know it’s painful, but it works”; “I want you to think about how hard you worked, and really acknowledge how present you were present were [in this workout]”;“I’m very results oriented.”
And the thing is, you believe her. She says it with total conviction, like it’s life or death whether you get through her workout. She even seems invested in my success—anonymous me on the other side of the laptop that’s playing the video. She seems to care. Plus when she gives these little pep talks, she seems to know how I must feel when I hear her: jello-limbed, exhausted, and ready for my shower. In other words, not especially receptive to another circuit. But I’m going to do it anyway because she seems to believe in me.
My proposal today is that writers need their own Jillian Michaelses. They need people who are going to expect them to get the job done, and believe 100% that they can and will do it. They need people who are going to get impatient with them if they don’t deliver. They need people who are going to tell them to show up.
Maybe your personal Jillian Michaels is your personal trainer (or high school track coach), and maybe her speeches about your workout will translate for you—as they did for me—into messages about your writing. That’s fine. The main thing is that you’re told that you can. That you should. And that to do it, you have to get off your butt and make it happen. No one else is going to do it for you.