Guest Blogger: Arlene Hittle

28 Nov

Five ways writing is like weight loss

With Thanksgiving behind us, the holiday eating season is in full swing. If you’re anything like me, you’re trying to figure out how to get to Jan. 1 without gaining five — or more — pounds.

Fret not, because we writers already have the tools we need to win the fight against fat. No, I’m not talking our affinity for chocolate or tendency to spend long hours sitting on our tushes, focused on computer screens.

Those habits’ tendency to tip the scales up notwithstanding, writing and weight loss are a lot alike. Here’s how:

  1. Let’s start with the obvious: Both require discipline and commitment.

Just like you won’t see progress on the scale if you regularly sneak Twinkies, you won’t have a rough draft to improve on if you don’t have the discipline to sit down and put words on paper. BICHOK — butt in chair, hands on keyboard — is a common refrain running through my thoughts.

  1. Moderation is key.

It doesn’t take a Ph.D. to know eating binges don’t do anything for your waistline. The same is true of writing. Of course it is possible to binge-write — and some people actually thrive on the pressure. Participants in NaNoWriMo, myself included, can attest to its power in getting down a draft. However, keep up that breakneck speed over the long term and not only are you likely to burn out, but your relationships (and housework) are bound to suffer. Know when to say “Enough is enough.”

  1. There’s no single right way to do it.

In weight loss, the eating plan that works perfectly for one person may make her neighbor take to the woods to shoot her own dinner. There’s also no one right way to write. Of course there are basics all manuscripts need — a solid plot, characters we can root for, steamy bits (or at least hints at them). But how each of us puts those pieces together to craft a story is all our own. Some are plotters; some are pantsters; some do a little of both. All that matters is the end result: A saleable manuscript.

4.  Success is easier with a strong support system.

Dieters need support. Family and friends who don’t push food are good sources, as are resources such as Weight Watchers, Sparkpeople and other online forums. Writers, too, do better with support. National and local RWA chapters are one source. There are also critique partners, beta readers and — for some — agents and editors. It also helps to have a family who understands when you disappear for hours or days at a time to meet a deadline.

  1. There will be ups and downs.

Only a lucky few will lose weight each week without fail until they reach goal. The same is true of writers: Few, if any, see wild success with their first manuscript. Most likely, you’ll receive word of a contest final one day and get a rejection letter the next. Either way, the important thing is to keep going. Eventually, the ups will outweigh the downs (vice versa for weight-loss).

So hone your craft, practice regularly and seek support when you need it. Writing — and weight-loss — success will find you.

Q4U: Any lessons from life that you apply to your writing career? Share them in the comments below.

Arlene Hittle is a 2011 RWA Golden Heart finalist and a longtime winner/loser at weight loss. She blogs about writing at and weight loss at


Posted by on November 28, 2011 in Guest Blog, weight loss


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12 responses to “Guest Blogger: Arlene Hittle

  1. sweetopiagirl

    November 28, 2011 at 5:11 AM

    Reblogged this on inspiredweightloss.

  2. Liz Flaherty

    November 28, 2011 at 5:12 AM

    Great analogy!

  3. Janis McCurry

    November 28, 2011 at 7:09 AM

    Good points on both subjects! Thanks for visiting Gem State Writers, Arlene.

  4. Liz Fredericks

    November 28, 2011 at 7:09 AM

    Hey Arlene – thank you for blogging on GSW. I am constantly struck by the serendipity of the perfect blog topic (for me) at the perfect time. Thank you for this! This is a great analogy about being patient with yourself and sticking to the program. Nicely done

  5. Arlene Hittle

    November 28, 2011 at 9:19 AM

    Thanks. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I always struggle with topics for guest posts, but this one came to me while I was commuting to work one morning and I knew it would be perfect.

  6. ramblingsfromtheleft

    November 28, 2011 at 10:31 AM

    Glad to meet you, Arlene. You touched on an issue that women are born with … body image and the issues that it’s never good enough. The second nemisis we face as women writer’s our low levels of self-esteem. When we combine the lessons of one to the other, we can’t help but suceed in shedding that “loser” image. Thanks so much 🙂

    • Arlene Hittle

      November 28, 2011 at 11:46 AM

      I didn’t even think about the self-esteem issue … That’s so true, though. Both writers and dieters often compare themselves to others and come up lacking. Great point!

  7. Clarissa Southwick

    November 28, 2011 at 3:50 PM

    Hi Arlene, I have always believed that writing makes me fat, but in reality it’s probably my lack of moderation. I’m either all writing or all exercise, never anything in between. Thanks for guest blogging for us today. You did a great job. 🙂

    • Arlene Hittle

      November 28, 2011 at 8:23 PM

      I’m the same way, Clarissa. When I’m focused on my writing, I’m not necessarily eating well and working out … and vice versa. I’m trying to find a balance — just as soon as Dec. 1 hits and NaNo is behind me. Right now, I’m trying to make up 8,000 words in two days.

  8. Leigh Bardugo

    November 28, 2011 at 3:57 PM

    I’d like to add another: The best way to defeat yourself is to compare yourself to others. Someone will always be thinner or prettier. Similarly, someone will always have the bigger deal or the higher word count. So leave jealousy at the door and be proud of what you’ve done and what you’re doing!

  9. Marsha R. West

    November 29, 2011 at 7:57 AM

    Great blogg, Arlene. The whole self-esteem/comparison issue is sooo true. But goodness that’s hard to stop. Maybe I can add that to my list of goals for the year, Liz. Every time I bad-mouth myself or my writing, I have to find at least three positive things to say.

    You’re right about balance, Arlene. If we could find the trick to attain that, we’d be ahead of the game.

  10. Mary Vine

    November 30, 2011 at 4:31 PM

    Further proof to me that if you want to get anything important done, you have to plan for it, whether it’s losing weight, writing a story, saving for a house, knowing what you’ll wear in the morning (on time), or knowing what to prepare for dinner each night. Success is all in the plan. Thanks for posting!


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