4 Life Principles I Learned as a Marine – Part 2

blog title imageToday continues my 4-part series on principles I learned as a Marine that can be applied to our lives and to our work as writers. Click Teamwork to read part 1.

Marines have the well-earned the reputation of being the toughest fighting force of the US. Hard work, not laziness, laid the foundation.

Boot camp was grueling. Day after day we drilled, ran, and marched for hours under the unforgiving summer heat of Parris Island, South Carolina. Would my muscles ever stop aching?

I realized the full extent of the physical change I had undergone at boot camp only after I came home on leave (that’s military speak for vacation) after boot camp graduation. The daily physical demands of training had burned away the fat in my body and muscle had taken its place. My civilian clothes were now too big. I had lost only two pounds, but I had gone from size 14 to size 8.

Principle #2: Fitness

All Marines have to pass an annual physical fitness test (PFT). The test isn’t based on whether your job is on the battle front or in the office on base, so staying physically fit is a daily aspect to being a Marine.

As much as I hated running 3 miles a couple times a week, I made running a regular part of my weekly exercise routine. I knew if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to pass my annual PFT.

How does this apply to life in general?

If it’s one thing Americans understand, it’s the importance of exercise. Unfortunately our society stresses exercise more for the purpose of being skinny and looking attractive to the opposite sex, rather than for keeping our body healthy.

For anyone who’s ever been sick, you know how it impairs your ability to perform your daily tasks in life. Staying fit is an important part of staying healthy.

I freely admit I don’t regularly exercise. Without a drill instructor yelling in my face—or an annual PFT—it’s hard to motivate myself to get out there and do it.

Exercise doesn’t have to be an hour at the gym or running 3 miles a day. I’ll go sledding with my grandkids any day! To build and keep muscle I must continually work my muscles.

How does this apply to my life as a writer?

Fresh air and exercise boost my creativity. But I’m not just talking about physical fitness here. I’m talking about fitness as a writer.

Believe it or not when our Marine Corps drill instructors asked a question, they also taught us how to respond if we didn’t know the answer: I don’t know, sir, but I’ll find out.

I’ve always loved learning, but that aspect of my training taught me that if there was something I needed or wanted to learn, I was the one who had to go out and find the answers.

So to be a fit writer, I have to learn my craft, write my story, submit my work, and build my platform. If I’m doing each of those things on a regular basis, I will become a stronger writer. When I need help, I seek it. I turn to a critique group or an editor or someone more knowledgeable and ask them questions.

Certainly, in this age of self-publishing ease, you can write something, put it out there via Createspace (or a blog) and call yourself a published author.

But is your book worth buying?

Is your blog worth reading?

How will people know your book/blog is out there if you don’t market it?

How will people learn about you and the book(s) you have to offer if you have no platform?

Just as we must physically exercise our body, exercising my writing muscles—learning the aspects of what it takes to be a published writer—will improve my chances of getting published.

The measure of our fitness can be viewed through many lenses. Among them are:

  • the size of our platform,
  • traffic to our blogs,
  • the sales of our book(s) or
  • the number of books/magazines articles that are getting published.

How does this apply to our spiritual lives?

As soldiers of Christ (2 Timothy 2:3), we submit ourselves to the disciplines of spiritual training to be spiritually fit. Studying the Bible, spending time in prayer, and attending church to learn from our pastors are part of a spiritual workout that helps us grow in our faith.

Our spiritual growth certainly can’t be measured in how many inches we drop from our waistline or how many books we publish.

We measure our spiritual growth using Galatians 5:22-23, the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

  • Am I producing the fruit of the spirit?
  • Am I growing in my knowledge of the Bible?
  • Do my friends see change? Ask them. Those around us often see the change in us better than we perceive it for ourselves.

Just as a Marine must be physically fit at all times, prepared to be called into battle at any moment, we too can be better prepared to meet the demands of everyday life and those of a writer by being physically, creatively, and spiritually fit.

How do you measure your fitness as a writer? Leave your comments below.

Related articles:
4 Life Principles I Learned as a Marine

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