I’m starting a new workout routine tomorrow. Since leaving our last apartment gym, with the full free weight set-up, squat rack, treadmills, and towel service (Why did we buy a house again? Oh, right. Equity.), I’ve been experimenting with the right workout regimen.

“Wait a minute,” you might be asking, “I came here to see what you’ve learned about becoming a published author.” I hear you, disembodied voice, but this is part of it. Most of my day is spent in cars, driving from student to student all over the greater Phoenix area. On average, I’ll spend 3 hours in my car, sometimes less, sometimes a lot more.


So, working out is necessary to keep the bad body bits in check. Back in the classroom days, I most definitely got my 10,000 steps in without even trying. I wasn’t even working out then (as a teacher who has time?) Just a lot of walking and as much healthy eating as possible. No soda. No fast food. And sure, I had Monster energy drinks and gummi worms a few days a week after school, but let’s not talk about that walk away walk away.

But, I was already started on a workout routine, a few levels in. After missing a few days last week…and the week before…and this week…it’s difficult to get back. It’s hard to think, ‘I can get back to where I was.’ You’ll spend days beating yourself, angry that your body isn’t performing the way it used to.

And sometimes.

Sometimes it’s better to start again at level 1.

Venkatesh Rao, a writer and independent management consultant whose writing can be found on Ribbonfarm, Breaking Smart, and The Art of Gig, once Tweeted:

It can feel weird to start over, to take yourself back to the beginning and say, “This is where I belong. I need to start over, ditch all my items, lose all my XP, and begin my progress all over again.”

I fell off the wagon. For October, I was crushing it. Every day, up at 4am, coffee, breakfast, morning pages, writing, then tutoring work, then writing work in the evening, plus 30 pushups a day for Sober October because if my buddy is going to request I don’t drink for the month then I’m going to take him down with me.

And it felt good. It felt good to be part of the 1000MPH Club.

It was tiring, sure, exhausting, definitely, but I could feel the progress. My strength increasing, my word count rising, my sense of worth becoming more and more.

And then.

And then…

November comes. Like the tightly wound springs of an opened watch, they sprang off, flying around the room, becoming lost to the void, and I’m sure one of them hit me in the eye.

I stopped working out. I stopped writing every day, and the worst part, I thought it was all okay.

Too much self care.

Telling yourself you need to start over, to begin again, to tackle a challenge you have in front of you with the mindset of, “I am a beginner. I do not know how to do this. I need to relearn how to do this,” is never easy, because you somehow think you’ve failed.

But that’s not it.

There’s a term in video games, where once you finish a game you can play it all over again with some of the equipment and skills you ended the game with. They call it “New Game Plus” or “New Game+.” You’re not truly a newbie, not totally. You carry over what you’ve learned and, obviously, you know the map of the world. Navigating isn’t a problem.

It’s getting back to where you want to be that’s the problem.

I’m starting a new workout regimen tomorrow.

I’m writing more of my book today after no writing for 10 days.

I’m editing chapter 1 of Project: HARP to keep sending that back out to agents.

I’m a Level 1 character, but soon I’ll be Level 100.

Thanks for reading,

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Contact: robertmichaelacosta@gmail