Writing is like running.
There is a certain cadence to writing, when you’ve decided to gag the Inner Critic and just write with gusto, unmindful of little errors that, in the moment, would slow you down.
Like running, you don’t find that groove immediately. Of course, the more you run/write, the easier it is to find your rhythm (as long as you don’t have to worry about spelling words like rhythm…)
I’m reminded of this every day when I walk home from work. At first I’m preoccupied with my phone and too busy avoiding awkward eye contact with that random guy across the sidewalk to notice my own walking. But I soon sink into a rhythm of movement that is pretty cool when you slow it down and analyze it.
In order to avoid betraying my utter ignorance, I’ll speak in vague generalities: if you’re walking or running efficiently, your body works a bit like a pendulum, swinging (not forcing) itself forward. I feel that I could run or walk for hours and never get tired when I’m running or walking in that ‘groove’. One long hill later and I have a different idea, but let’s not focus on that right now.
Writing works in the same way. Putting the first word down is like taking the first step. You don’t have momentum, you’re not in your stride. It’s easy to give up, to be uncomfortable, to want to stop. But one word begets another (such is the nature of sentences, right?) and soon you have a paragraph! Pat yourself on the back (go on, do it), but hold up cowboy, we’re not done yet!
If you’re anything like me, writing gets considerably easier once I’m about 15 minutes in. Those first minutes are full of me being too busy tying and re-tying my shoes, checking my watch, adjusting my socks, stretching, checking my watch again. It’s good to have your shoes tied before running/writing, but you also need to realize when you’re tying your shoes just to put off the run, or, in this case, the writing session. Sooner or later I inevitably realize that I have to leave my door if I ever want to get into that ‘groove’.
Moan and groan all you want, but do realize that this is why daily writing is important. You minimize the stretching process and get into the ‘groove’ quicker. Like running, walking (or most anything, really) you can have days when you could conquer the world, and days where you could barely conquer taking the first step. This is the nature of being human. We’re beautifully inconsistent.
I know some writers who would prefer to be more like machines, to crank out a certain word count consistently every day. Don’t be like them: embrace your humanity and take the terrible days in stride. (Time for an inspirational closer!)
After all, tomorrow might not be total shit.
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Don’t steal my words. They’re mine. Zachary Barnes 2015©