I’m convinced that my creative muscles are similar to my physical muscles. If they don’t get used regularly, they atrophy. Even if you’ve been using them regularly and they’re in “good shape” but you stop for an extended amount of time, they will atrophy again.
I’m a runner. But I don’t always run. If I stop my regular running for more than a week or two, I have to build up to the level I was at when I stopped. It’s like starting all over again.
It’s annoying and frustrating. But if I don’t start back slowly, I risk hurting myself.
With my creative muscles, if I don’t start slowly, I risk succumbing to Resistance.
At the beginning of July, I had been consistently writing a minimum of 3 to 5 pages a day for months. Holidays happened and it was hard to shake the vacation mentality when they were done.
Next thing I knew, it was mid-August and I hadn’t done any writing. I wanted to get to work on the next draft of A Killing at the Cottage. For a few weeks, I would set a daily goal of writing 3 pages. And for those few weeks I wrote nothing. Resistance was having a field day with me.
Instead of three pages, I tried to set a goal of one page. Still nothing. A couple of weeks of nothing…
Then, I set a goal of writing a beat of dialogue. Not a page. Not half a page. A beat. It could be three lines of dialogue or fifteen lines.
Hallelujah! It worked. I could meet that target. And Resistance can suck it because I’ve started my next draft!
Instead of whining to myself about how long it will take, I will do the work and slowly build up my creative muscles to a page daily. And eventually back up to three pages daily.
How long will it take? I don’t know. I’ll just keep working on my writing until my minimum is consistently more than a beat and I’ll slowly keep moving the minimum to slightly higher targets.
My takeaway isn’t that I should avoid writing breaks. Life happens. You never know what might come around to interrupt your routine. Just remember to start slow when you start again.
© 2019 Peter Gruner