Zwift – my new writing tool

Yep, you read that right. Zwift, oddly enough, helped me to conceptualize my second novel.

For those of you who are not familiar with Zwift, it is an app that takes you into a virtual world where you can train on your bike with an indoor training or run on a treadmill. Once you connect in, you can work away at customized trainings or join in a race against others across the world. It has become my “go to” cycling or running training tool for these cold winter days when it is too dark to go outside (or when I am wimping out from the cold).

I knew the advantages that I was going to get in my training from Zwift. What I didn’t know is how it was going to help me write.

Time is incredibly precious. I constantly find myself struggling to balance the time between training (Pittsburgh Marathon in May) and working on my novels, short stories, blog, etc. There are only a few hours in a day that I can fit these in as I also have a career where I work 8+ hour days, 5 days a week. On top of that, I need to make sure I am spending quality time with the special people and fur babies in my home.

All of that usually allots me 1-2 hours of either training or writing. That’s not a lot of time each day to spend on honing either craft.

Enter Zwift.

A few weeks ago, I was just spinning away on a customized work out, staring at the TV and watching my avatar speed along the course. Suddenly my mind began to drift and I subconsciously starting to untangle a little snag that I hit in my current work. It was like a shock to my system when I realized what was going on! I grabbed my cell phone, paused Lizzo from belting her beautiful voice over my speakers, and opened a voice recorder app all the while still pedaling away. Breathlessly, I started to just blurt out what was going on in my head (note: I truly mean “breathlessly” as I was talking while spinning high RPMs, depriving my brain of oxygen).

Several minutes later, I untangled a web that I had written myself into a few days earlier. Case solved.

This was not a one-time instance. Each time I am spinning with Zwift, I get entranced and end up figuring out how to progress whatever I am working on now. It is like the physical activity helps to make the brain power at a higher wattage too.

I am all about efficiency here and doing these two tasks at once is working out brilliantly. As well as safely. While cycling or running, I do tend to find my mind wandering to my stories, but I tend to quell any thoughts because I stop paying attention to what is going on around me in the real world once my head descends to the clouds. With Zwift, I can work out to my hearts content and not have to worry about being sideswiped by a car or tripping in a pothole. I can let my mind wander. And when it is time for my workout to change, Zwift audibly tells me and I can break my writing trance and switch gears to what I need to do next in the workout.

A win-win over all and I usually accomplish both in an hour, then spend another hour post-workout to write down whatever it was that I figure out.

I have yet to try this while running on the treadmill, mainly because I am gasping for breath or I’d probably fall off the machine from trying to talk, think, and run at the same time. I also have not attempted to ride and hand write at the same time… I don’t think my Sonic Endurance coach would be too happy with me trying that. That’s a whole other level of coordination I don’t have, even if my bike is on a stationary trainer.

For you athlete writers out there who are struggling to find the balance between work, family, writing, and training, I highly suggest giving Zwift a go and try to work on your plot points or character development or whatever else you need to sift through in your written work.

And if you figure out a secret to writing and spinning at the same time, do let me know.

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