Don’t Train Harder, Train Smarter.

The statement “Don’t train harder, train smarter” has a lot of poignancy to me in relation to my Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training, and thanks to BJJ I’ve been able to learn how to apply lessons learnt on the mat to other, relevant areas of my life.

Last night’s training session is a great example of that. I was exhausted, hungry and it showed in how I moved and reacted on the mats. It forced me to think about what I was doing, it made me attempt to roll smarter, rather than harder, relying on strength as some people are prone to do. It made me think, and in my fatigued state it allowed me an opportunity to play with bad positions that I may not have found myself in had I been more alert or more physically able. It let me keep it playful as I rolled with a few white belts (who were by no means to be taken lightly) and it brought me into some interesting danger positions, one of which I tried to slowly figure a way out of that was ultimately unsuccessful, leading to me tapping. Which doesn’t matter, as it shouldn’t. Firstly the guy who got me is a great training partner who is truly dedicated to BJJ; he’s there every day, mostly having trained in the morning and then coming back to the night time class. His schedule, and youth, allow him to dedicate the time most others wish they could, and it shows in his progress as he evolves in leaps and bounds.

There’s no shame in tapping, especially if it’s in a position you recognise as dangerous, and then attempt to play with. It could have gone great and I would have found a unique escape, or it could have gone the other way, where my relaxed, controlled, attempts to figure a way out didn’t bear any fruit.

But how does this relate to writing, exactly? Let me explain my madness.

“Don’t train harder, train smarter”, coupled with this solid concept of being willing to play, to explore and relax whilst doing so tie directly into what the writing experience should be, and I’ve learned a lot since making some massive changes to not only my story, but also the way I write, during the rewriting process of Temporary. 

I haven’t blogged in a while because of this. I’ve been getting to grips with a program most writers will already be familiar with, but is one I wish I had found before I committed to writing the initial manuscript, which ended up, as it was, as a massively long Word Document, which of course includes all the pitfalls of what that entails with a rewrite.

A dearth of text, 113,000 words deep, and a good concept of what happens where isn’t conducive to a great rewrite compared to utilising some deeper structure, honing it and giving it order.

Scrivener has been the answer I wasn’t aware I needed. The level of organisation I’ve been able to provide my manuscript during this rewriting process has been indispensable. Splitting elements of the novel into their own specific parts (complete with the ability to create synopsis based index cards on each narrative beat!!) to allow me a greater overview of the project has helped me to no end. Instead of the lengthy, single Word document, I’m now able to easily navigate through the story, editing elements as I go without getting completely lost in the process. Index cards, break downs, keywords and a UI that makes sense, once you’ve put the work in (go through the tutorial!), have helped me readdress how I thought I would work best. Simply: it allows me to work smarter. It allows me an opportunity to have an overview that I didn’t have before, and because of this I can confidently begin to play with the story, tweaking elements and moving whole scenes around at a whim to try and improve the pacing of the story.

The entire novel needs a hefty rewrite, but with the help of Scrivener I’m confident that the process will be that much more manageable, even if I do need to start in a systematic way – inputting all the data and information I need in order to make any further edits that much smoother. It’s a lot of hard work, no doubt, but there’s only way way it’s going to get done, and that’s by working smarter.


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