How Tai Chi Will Make You a Better Writer

tai-chi-better-writer

Can Tai Chi make you a better writer?

I spend 10 hours a day writing user guides, online help and other such delights. One of the hazards of working these long hours is migraine, back pain and (literally) a pain in the neck. You can get away with this in your 20s, but as you get older you need to take greater care of your health. I really hate jogging (: and looked for an alternative form of exercise. I found Tai Chi.

The Tai Chi Guide to Technical Writing

I start work at 6 a.m. most days. By 12am I’m ready for a break. Usually I walk by the canal or hit the gym. But, it gets a bit monotonous. All those thread-mills pounding along. And no-one ever looks happy in the gym. All so serious – fight the flab!

My local gym (I’m in Beijing, great place!) offer Tai Chi classes every Thursday. So, why not? Along I went.

Now, I’m pretty sporty and have done yoga, dancing and other such activities.

How hard can it be?

It is really hard.

No, really, really hard.

What’s difficult is the simplicity of the whole thing

If you tighten up, get tense, or start to get negative, then you’ll lose your footing and look a bit of a clown. Luckily, our teacher (it’s a group class) is very calm and shepherds us along. Bit by bit we got there.

Remember all of this is in Chinese – and you know more Chinese than I do!

At a certain point, I felt defeated. Despite my best efforts, I could not get it.

Also, I’m left-handed (first excuse!) so I ended up doing all the steps back to front, backwards and upside down. It really was crushing but I kept a brave face and went on.

By the way, all the others were ladies — and no-one spoke a word of English. Let’s say I soon became light entertainment.

Why not?

But then it clicked.

I did a few turns, swayed this way and completed a small routine. A minor triumph. After that I went home and re-started on my technical writing.

So, did this improve your user guides?

Yes.

Tai Chi makes you:

1. Stop your mind.

For this I am very grateful. It’s so difficult at first, you have to just stop thinking and ‘feel’ how it works.

2. Eat less

I noticed that after I finish, I tend to eat a smaller lunch, maybe a salad and feel more calm. Not sedated. Calm.

3. Sleep better

I try to do 10 min at night when junior is in bed. It seems to slow down the machine. Thoughts, worries, deadlines melt away.

4. Less time-wasting

The lesson is about 45 min every Thursday, so I gave up a few other activities. In real terms, it meant less time on social media sites, checking email and other time-killers.

Once you stop doing these things, you realize how pointless they really are – or for me anyway.

5. Better documents

This is the acid test, isn’t it?

When you sleep well as night, eat better, feel calm, are in less pain, and waste less time twittering with some jezebel, then you’re output is bound to improve.

How about you?

What do you do to take care of your health?

Do you find Tai Chi, Yoga, or other such activities really make a difference?

Thousands of templates to jump start your project

Acceptance Test Plan

Contingency Plan

Software Development Templates

Acquisition Plan

Conversion Plan

Software Requirements Specification

Action Plan

Cost Benefit Analysis

Software Testing

API Documentation

Database Design

Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)

Audience Analysis

Datasheet

Statement of Work

Availability Plan

Deployment Plan

System Administration Guide

Bill of Materials

Design Document

System Boundary

Business Case

Disaster Recovery Plan

System Design Document

Business Continuity

Disposition Plan

System Specifications

Business Plan

Documentation Plan

Technical Writing Templates

Business Process

Employee Handbook

Test Plan

Business Requirements

Error Message Guide

Training Plan

Business Rules

Expression of Interest

Transition Plan

Capacity Plan

Fact Sheet

Troubleshooting Guide

Case Study

Feasibility Study

Use Case

Change Management Plan

Functional Requirements

User Guide

Communication Plan

Grant Proposal

Verification and Validation Plan

Concept of Operations

Implementation Plan

White Papers

Concept Proposal

Installation Plan

Work Instructions

Configuration Management Plan

Interface Control Document

Software Development Templates

Acceptance Test Plan

Maintenance Plan

Software Requirements Specification

Acquisition Plan

Market Research

Software Testing

Action Plan

Marketing Plan

Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)

API Documentation

Needs Statement

Statement of Work

Audience Analysis

Operations Guide

System Administration Guide

Availability Plan

Policy Manual

System Boundary

Bill of Materials

Project Plan

System Design Document

Business Case

Proposal Manager Templates

System Specifications

Business Continuity

Proposal Template

Technical Writing Templates

Business Plan

Quality Assurance Plan

Test Plan

Business Process

Release Notes

Training Plan

Business Requirements

Request for Proposal

Transition Plan

Business Rules

Risk Management Plan

Troubleshooting Guide

Capacity Plan

Scope of Work

Use Case

Case Study

Security Plan

User Guide

Change Management Plan

Service Level Agreement (SLA)

Verification and Validation Plan

Communication Plan

Setup Guide

White Papers

Concept of Operations

Social Media Policy

Work Instructions

Concept Proposal

Contingency Plan

 

Configuration Management Plan

Conversion Plan