Writing reflection: writing is like yoga

There are many ways that yoga is like writing - you need patience, your skills grow with time, and practicing regularly helps you improve faster. The one I thought of recently, however, was that for both, you can choose to pay a lot of money for an expert to teach you more. I do not hesitate to do this for yoga. Yet I am extremely hesitant to do this for writing.

Part of this is because of the role they have in my life. Yoga is a leisure activity, and I do it purely because it makes me feel (and hopefully look) good. While I do obviously enjoy writing, a big reason for doing it right now is to earn money. You'd think I'd be more willing to spend on something that will earn me money than something that makes me feel good.

When the local yoga studio sent me an email about their teacher training class, I very nearly signed up, even though I have no intention of becoming a teacher, and despite it costing nearly $2,500.

I recently listened to several audio courses and read a book that got me extremely excited about writing in a way no one else has. Yet I balked at the $1,500 price of her six-month online course.

I think this is tied to the reason that most people will go to restaurants every week rather than save for retirement. One is definitely going to make me happy right now, and the other, well... maybe. One day. Nothing is certain in life, so you may as well have fun now, right?

Now, in general, I am pretty frugal and am slowly heading towards a life of minimalism, which I will probably blog about in the future. I try hard to reconcile my spending habits with my goals. The money I have spent so far on this self-publishing adventure has come from my "discretionary" budget. Instead of eating out or getting a haircut, I chose to spend it on book-related costs.

Truth be told, I don't usually spend any money on individual yoga classes, unless there is a good Groupon for a local studio that makes it less than $10/class. We have a family membership to the YMCA, which has classes included, with an instructor I love, for much less than the normal price of a yoga studio in my area ($20-$25/class). We get the bonus of a great outdoor pool, and a gym with onsite babysitting. I also do quite a bit of online yoga videos.

The availability of online resources is another similarity between yoga and writing. There is so much great free stuff out there, you really don't have to pay for it if you don't want to. In exchange, you accept that it will take longer to get where you want to be. I progressed more in yoga in three months going to a studio than I did in over a year on my own at home with videos. Teachers show you new poses, point out mistakes, and the atmosphere encourages you to push yourself more than you do on your own.

I am willing to pay (a bit) for business-related items, like a website and advertising. So why don't I want to pay to improve my writing?

One reason is because unlike yoga, where you will physically see and feel results, it's harder to see the improvements with writing. Especially if you're trying to do it for money. The best writers do not always make the most money. The return on investment is much more abstract, at least in the beginning.

Another reason is because there is a lot of uncertainty about which teacher to choose. The range for the various courses, communities, and personalized resources can run from $200 up to $5000. Every single one is done by someone who "already wasted thousands on other courses" - so how is their offering really different?

Also like yoga, one expert may tell you that whatever someone else said was the wrong way to do it! Outline! Don't outline! Write every day! Write only when you're inspired! I have been frustrated lately by this sensation of no matter what I do, someone will tell me it's wrong. In yoga, I at least have the advantage of, if it hurts, I probably shouldn't do it. With writing, again, there's nothing physical to help guide my progress.

The final element to all this is coming back to my struggle with not feeling like a real author. I don't want to waste resources on something I have not fully integrated into my identity. Especially such a large chunk of resources. I am slowly getting there. Every blog post, every new chapter, every new Facebook page like, it is feeling more and more normal. I have bought one book, I have found a few others for free, and I am slowly figuring out what level of investment I am most comfortable with.

Have you paid for writing courses or books? Do you think it was worth it?