Getting back in writing shape

Writers Feel the Burn

One of the hardest things about stepping away from your blog for a little while is figuring out how to get back in it. That’s the problem I’m having trouble with now; the brain won’t kick in.

It’s like taking a break after you’ve been working out regularly and then trying to pick up where you left off. You realize just how out of shape your writing has gotten, how slow your pace is now—and how likely you are to sprain something.

Nothing like shame to try to keep you from getting back in the game, huh? Ironically, it’s often when we least feel like writing that we often most need to do so. I’m no exception.

What’s a writer to do?

Breathe

Oxygen helps reduce panic. Helps take the edge off the anxiety so you can settle down and start thinking clearly.

I’ve found that taking three deep breaths in a row has an immediate impact on my ability to think. It helps unconstrict my chest and serves as an often much-needed ‘timeout’ so I can think instead of react.

Stretch

Write crap. Seriously, crap. Get used to being outside your comfort zone again. Remember, no one has to read it.

I’ll go first.

The leopard-print pencil and zebra-print pencil waited patiently for the predator to choose. Unable to run, they lay on the desk, watching the gleam of the new sharpener dance in the light of the fading day.

The snacks were out, arranged into a tidy row. Alphabetically. The journal was creased open. Its blank pages grumbled with hunger for words. The predator’s hand reached towards the pencils and hovered, undecided.

For one pencil, it was going to be a long, final night.

Write

Put butt to chair, pen to paper and fingers to keyboard. Make the words spew forth, even if you don’t like them. You know to set a timer, set boundaries and all that. The trick—and it’s a doozy—is to hold yourself accountable for following through despite your discomfort.

Again, you know all of this. If you don’t, now you do and can pretend you knew all along anyway. I won’t ask questions.

Repeat

C’mon, this is a fitness analogy. Don’t act all surprised this is here. And for good reason. Repetition breeds improvement.

I can’t imagine any published, successful, Stephen King-like author ever made it by spending most of the time rolling in stagnation and coming up for air just once in a while.

I’ll end with this gem of a song I found on YouTube: Die Vampire Die from the musical [title of show].

WARNING: THIS AWESOME SONG CONTAINS PROFANITY. I LOVE PROFANITY, BUT IF YOU’RE AT WORK, YOU MAY WANT TO EXERCISE CAUTION AND STUFF.

Die Vampire Die

Keep breathing. Keep stretching. Keep writing. Keep repeating. And think of the body of work you’ll have at the end.

5 thoughts on “Getting back in writing shape

  1. This post came just after I had listened to a podcast interview with Elizabeth Strout. She spoke about her writing routines and I realized I really need to make more time for my creative writing. Seeing your post was the extra reinforcement I needed to get back ‘into writing shape.’ Since then I’ve been writing 600+ words per day on my own projects. Although this seems minor when I hear about the routines of other writers, it is a volume and exercise I had never done before. 🙂

    • Love it! Not everyone can bang it out like Stephen King. So glad that you’re putting in 600+ words each day. That adds up quickly. Good for you. 🙂

  2. Pingback: Writing Routine ‘Buffet’ | Write Naked

  3. Hey! How did you get inside my head, and even know what I was working on! LOL. Some similar thoughts and ideas at least, but from different angles. Thanks for additional encouragement. I have been working on some other creative goals and have indeed made some progress. I’ve also wrote about 300 words today. Have a great day.

    PS. You might want to put a tiny warning label on that song clip (especially if listening at work) 😛

    • Good point, Peter. Glad you found it helpful. And yeah…sometime the gears just don’t wanna turn.

      Sorry ’bout that to anyone who got in trouble at work for listening to that song. 😦

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