Don’t Let Your Mental Muscles Atrophy

Writing is like exercise.  The more you do it, the easier it is.  Or rather, the easier it is to make yourself do it.  My friends who run (no, I don’t know from personal experience) say that when you are in the habit of running, it becomes part of your day, like eating or sleeping.  Miss a day or a few days, and you start feeling bad.  Miss a week, and it’s easier to find reasons not to do it.  The longer you go, the harder it is to put on those running shoes and get out there.

It’s the same with writing.   When you are in the habit of writing, it’s just easier to sit at the computer and face the blank screen.  Your mental muscles are strong, your endurance is high, your confidence unshakable.  Miss a day, and you feel uncomfortable and guilty.  Stay away from it for too long, and it gets easier and easier to avoid.

I’ve been away from this blog for a month.  It started as one missed week, and that bothered me.  But one week quickly became two, then three, and suddenly a whole month had gone by.  I’d like to say I was too busy working on the novel to find time to knock out 400 words for the blog.  In truth, I let myself be distracted, and took some time off from writing in all its forms.  While I jotted down sentences here and there, and wrote for short periods of time, I wasn’t spending long hours in the chair.  Life had thrown a few distractions at me, and my head was not in my work.  And it’s OK to take a break every now and then.  Sometimes we need to take time off and “fill the well” as my friend Kristen-Paige says.  But I stayed away too long.  I took so much time off that it became intimidating to think about using those out-of-practice mental muscles again.

So this blog post is my mental warm-up, my stretch before the run.  This afternoon I’ll get back to the real work.  It will be harder than it should be, but that’s my own fault, and I’ll work through it.  Those flabby muscles will have to be built back up, and the only way to do that is to write.

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