Work hasn’t left me with a lot of time with the blog lately. Basically, I’ve been working from 630am to 7pm or so, when we adjourn back to the hotel, eat dinner, and go back to work from 8 until 10. Or 11. I’m delinquent on the blog. I’m also fearfully delinquent on the writing.
I always worry about missing out on my running and gym routine, which has taken an awful hit in recent months, again thanks to the job. I have to work Saturday, in which case Sunday will be my one-and-only workout, and I know how much harder it is to get back in shape than it is to maintain.
The same worry plagues me with my writing. It takes time to develop good habits, like going to the gym over lunch or getting up an hour early to write. Skill sets are generally either atrophying or improving – you’re becoming a faster runner, or slower, developing a stronger sense for dialogue or losing some of your skill with it.
Of course, the loss never has to be permanent. You can always get back into shape, or re-develop your skill sets. The problems are twofold, though. First, it’s painful to work to regain old skills. I feel that way when I’m running and don’t understand why my body doesn’t do a six-minute mile anymore (although the fact I no longer run 50-mile weeks… in fact, I often don’t do five miles in a week, is an obvious factor). I feel it, too, when I’m writing. When I come back from a long time away, I second guess myself. Is this writing as good as what I wrote a month ago? I can’t do justice to this story anymore… I don’t know where I was. I thought my dialogue was cleaner.
Right now, I’m losing my schedule. I’m hoping that April is a better month, a month where I write for an hour every morning and start training for another marathon. I know I’m not improving as a writer now – since I’m not writing – and I may be slipping.
But I’ll be back. I’ll lace up my running shoes, crank my iPod, run too far, cramp up and walk home, at first. Then one day, I'll run six miles and won't want to stop again. I'll power up my laptop, toss licorice-flavored jelly beans and orange M&Ms at the muse (she’s very picky) and write. Every day I tap away at the keyboard, I’ll get a little better, just like I’ve improved during every early hour I’ve spent writing. And before I know it? I’ll be back in the game. It'd be easier to never lose what we've gained, of course, but this little thing called life can get in the way.
What do you think? Do writing skills atrophy like so many other developed abilities, and if so, how do you keep them strong/rebuild/retrain?
1 hour ago