How the Writing Stops

An interesting title, seeing as I haven’t posted here in a long while. It’s a melancholy thing, but the reason is simple: I’m not practicing.

Notice how I haven’t blamed any one of a host of issues. I won’t even bother to list them, because listing them invites them to be used as excuses and excuses are about as useful as a typewriter without paper.

I think most writers know that the practice of writing is something that has to be kept up daily. It’s a different mode of thinking, and without use the skills gets soft and becomes unfamiliar. It might even become uncomfortable where once it was a release.

Exercising is like that too. I used to run a lot and I fell away from the habit. I know what it feels like to run, to deplete yourself completely. My body misses that feeling I know, and I really ought to do something about it.

This is the way we stop doing things, you know. We begin with a few words like, “I really ought to do something…” But, we don’t. Instead, we find some other thing to do and we walk away from the important things in our lives. Those other things may or may not have the same value. They may have no value at all in fact but serve as ready placeholders. They are cushions against the necessary pain of growth and life.

That’s a lot of pressure to put on writing a few silly stories, but I believe that you can’t do something important if you don’t place some importance on the act. To me, writing is very important and I want my writing to be important regardless of the subject matter.

I’ve been traveling a lot lately, which means I don’t have a steady pattern to my days. I may be in one city today and another tomorrow. One bed tonight or sleeping on the floor the next. For my writer’s brain, this is something of a treat and a pain. The treat is all the amazing sights and sounds and smells. The dialogue and the faces. The experience of human existence in many places and at many levels. The pain is trying to make sense of it all, which of course is impossible without the benefit of time but it doesn’t stop my mind from working through what I’ve seen and heard and experienced.

The reason I mention this is that it’s common to think that the right course of action is an abrupt change in course. We believe that if we just say we’ve had enough and shift that things will be ok. In some circumstances, this is true. Some situations cannot be cured and must be abandoned before they cause further damage, but the really important things cannot be changed so quickly without damaging them.

I’ve done my fair share of damage during the course of my life. Mostly to myself, but not always. I don’t wish that I could take it all back. It makes me who I am. It makes me appreciate what I have and those people who I choose to let into my life. Giving it all back would rob me of the ability to cherish what is important. It might even strip away the possibility of recognizing what’s important.

I’m writing all of this down as an exercise. Writing ends when we stop practicing. It can only begin again when we realize the things worth having are the things worth working for each and every day.

Are you taking the practice of writing to heart? What about the practice of life?

4 thoughts on “How the Writing Stops

  1. What a great post this morning! I know it’s a topic much on my mind of late, because I let my practicing slip for a month or so. Even when I am writing these days, I’m not sure it counts as practice when it comes to the novels taking a back seat to the “cookbook” and WAHM blog. Nonfiction is a whole different ballgame. The flow and feel of it are as different as Bach to Three Day’s Grace.

    However, getting back to the desk to write anything is better than not writing at all. Having picked up my clarinet for the first time since 2006, I can liken the feeling of the two. I can’t quite remember the finger placements on the extreme upper and lower ranges, and the well earned callouses have faded away. It’s awkward and clumsy at first, and I come away feeling as if my thumb’s on fire and I’ve bitten through my lower lip. Yet, a few days of consistent practice later, I’m back in the groove and developing those callouses again.
    .-= A. B. England´s last blog ..YouTube Fun =-.

  2. I have several commitments that mean a lot to me, writing being one of them. I often find I’ve dropped one of them for a while and struggle to get going again. Summer is particularly hard because of the disruption to routine caused by the kids being off school (summer hols in the US being THREE MONTHS long).

    What do I do? First, I don’t beat myself up about it. Life has a way of sneaking up on writers and bashing them on the head. It’s LIFE’s fault, not mine. Second, I get back to writing. Rinse and repeat.

    I mostly wrote this post to thank you for WriteChain. Best motivator I’ve ever found to get me through a first draft. 23,000 words and counting!
    .-= Jane Steen´s last blog ..Weaving a Life =-.

  3. I am trying desperately to keep practicing and get myself onto a schedule. I did some work this AM on my novel, just plotting, but I felt so good afterwards. That is the thing I need to remember…after doing the work, there is a such a great feeling of satisfaction and the rest of the day goes so well. I can’t forget that feeling. I NEED to keep it going!

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