Justine: Flexing Your Writing Muscles

manlifting-weightsIn many ways, writing is like working out. The more you do it, the easier it is, and the more stamina you have. On the flip side, when you stop working out, it’s a bitch to get back into it again.

One of my New Years Resolutions was to get moving for 30 minutes a day. Aside from not writing, I’ve also been neglecting myself, and I decided, after reading this stunning NY Times article about how much of your LIFE you can lose by being inactive, that I needed to switch things into a higher gear. I don’t like gyms and I refuse to join a club, so for me, right now, it’s walking, which my dog definitely likes.

But with any physical exercise, when you don’t do something for a long time, it takes awhile for your body to get used to it. Walking fast and talking at the same time is a challenge for me right now. I haven’t done anything physical for years. Of course, this “adjustment period” is true for the actual physical part of being active again, like stretching muscles that you haven’t used (or didn’t know existed). But it’s also true for the routine of being active.

It takes two things for something like exercise to become part of your routine: repetition and determination. You MUST walk every day (or darn near close to it) for walking to feel like more than simply a one-off exercise, and for it to fit it into your day like eating breakfast or having that morning cuppa. And you must determine you’re going to keep up with the routine.

Same goes for writing.

I haven’t done it much over the past year (as evidenced by my absence on Eight Ladies and the astonishing number of new words added to my manuscript in 2016 – ZERO). I’ve fallen out of my writing routine, just like I’ve gotten out of the habit of physical exercise.

Since the beginning of the year, though, I’ve been writing. Three-thousand-plus words since January 1st, which is great! I have actually scheduled time in my calendar for writing. Right now, because of my responsibilities as PTA president, it’s not possible for me to write every day, but I’m trying to do it at least every other. I’m determined to honor the time I’ve carved out for writing, so I refuse to trade that time for volunteering at school or dentist appointments or getting my hair cut.

Needless to say, I’ve had my butt in the chair. As I spent more time there, I’m finding that getting back into the writing routine is like getting into an exercise routine. It requires both repetition and determination to get back into the daily pattern of it.

Something else it requires, which I was unaware of until I really got into it, is patience.

I can’t sit down and keep my head in my story for hours on end like I could when I was writing every day. (I can’t sit at my desk that long and do anything for hours on end, if I were to be honest about it.) I know at some point I will…that the time I’ve carved out in my schedule for writing will include more actual writing time (instead of thinking time or critique time). But the only way that’s going to happen is if I determine to repeat the process every day I can.

I’m not sure how many of you have been like me, out of the writing game for awhile, but if you have and you want to get back into it, join me. Post in the comments the challenges you’ve had with writing. Then tell us what you’re doing to flex your writer muscles and make writing part of your daily (or weekly) routine.

And if you’ve NEVER been in the writing game and want to get started, join me, too! We’d love to hear about your journey to the world of writing and what you’re doing to get into and stay in the game.

3 thoughts on “Justine: Flexing Your Writing Muscles

  1. Glad to see you back! I battle with “can’t write” periods all the time, I feel like. It can be particularly hard when I get inspired, and real life just throws a stinkbomb into the works, and I’m too busy dealing with that to get writing. It’s amazing how writing can accumulate, though. A little bit here and a little bit there, and suddenly you find yourself with a file of 50,000 words and a through-line. (-: Well, here’s hoping all of us who wants that finds it in February!

  2. This past weekend was a railroader for me. I had grandiose plans to get my office organized and do several things I’d been putting off around the house because kids/myself had been sick, then I got hit with a migraine Saturday and a mini-flu on Sunday. Talk about frustrating! At least that didn’t happen on my writing days, but now my office feels cluttered and cramped and not conducive to writing. I suppose I should just go to Starbucks and get my work done there!

    • I’m the same way. No, I’m worse. I get a little cold (or mysterious muscle aches with a headache — it’s like I’ve been fighting the beginnings of the flu for the last ten days — it never wipes me out, but I’m constantly draggy and ache-y). Ahem, I get a little cold, and I do nothing but stay in bed watching YouTube, with breaks to drink liquids.

      I’ll tell you what doesn’t help at all. David Bowie wrote and recorded Blackstar (and its amazing videos) while fighting liver cancer. Knowing that just makes me feel sullen and guilty, not inspired.

      What does help me slightly is listening or playing some of his early works — especially the ones about fighting depression, like “Fantastic Voyage” or particularly “Sound and Vision”. Not only does it give me a strategy, it also makes me realize that we never really know where we are going to wind up creatively. The only way to find out is to work through it. Could be a crappy voyage full of seasickness . . . or it could be a “Fantastic Voyage” indeed.

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