Tips for Writers: Love the Burn

Mitch Teemley


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…

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