Wednesday on Writing: Training- and Retraining- Your Writing Muscles

If you read Monday’s post, you know that I have been kind of down and out as far as writing goes for the last two weeks. Either I had too little time or was too sick to worry about word counts. Naturally, I fell behind. I expected that. What I didn’t expect was finding that when I did sit down to get back into the current WIP, I would be kind of out of shape. The way a runner might be if they had to take a couple weeks off of their regular schedule.

It surprised me at first, but then, as I thought about it, I realized it probably shouldn’t. When I decided years ago to try and become more disciplined at this writing thing, I had to train myself to do it. Not only did I have to figure out how to arrange my days to fit writing in, but I also had to train myself to write a reasonable amount each time I sat down. At first, it was not much. A page. Two pages. Five. I set a goal that depended on what I had been able to do consistently and needed to hit at least that much every day. As time went on and the ability to write more developed, that goal stretched out until I was able to write about 2000-2500 words every day. That seems to be, so far, my mental limit. I’ve done more at times, but then I am mentally wiped out for a time. So 2000 words has been my daily output for a long time now.

Not that I hit it every day, mind you. Sometimes, other things crowd in and push that number down. Life happens. Story problems happen. Some days are just total washes, and others are spent brainstorming or working out story problems in other ways. But that 2000 word goal has been the standard.

After the past two weeks, I found I couldn’t push that far. I was exhausted, my brain refused to function, and I am pretty sure I dozed off at my desk once or twice. What happened? Well, I think like our runner friend above, the physical and emotional stress of those weeks took their toll on my creative ability. And just like that runner who needs to work back into their full distance slowly after an injury, I needed to do the same. So I dropped my daily goal down to an amount I could manage without feeling like I needed to crawl back into bed for a week. I’ve been pushing past that goal now pretty easily, so again like our runner friend, it’s easier to get back into shape than it was to get there in the first place.

It’s not wrong or bad to slip back a bit, especially if there has been some sort of physical or mental stress in your life outside (or inside) of writing. We are all a total package, and what affects us in one area often spills over into others. Be easy on yourself if you have to. Build those muscles back up gently or you might risk greater injury.

After all, some words written are better than no words written, right? Let’s talk some more about that next week, shall we?


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