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Echoes and Mirrors» Blog Archive » Writing!

Writing!

I’m doing it again. The masochism has bubbled up from the depths.

I hadn’t meant to take as long of a hiatus as I had, but the summer ended up being mostly awful and entirely too stressful to even consider it. Not that I’m any less busy now. I’m definitely less stressed, though.

But what’s noteworthy is that after a couple of months wherein the only writing I did was a few tweets and emails (and no small number of resume/cover letter combinations) I slipped back into it like I had never stopped. I feel better about it, in fact. Looking back over old manuscript drafts, I recoil in horror (drafts, which, in May, seemed fine). The break, I think, was good for my brain. It needed some downtime.

The adage about “write every day” has always struck me as being, to a degree, crap. While I can’t deny that writing is like working out and requires pretty regular exercise, I suspect that there are thousands of writers out there banging out shit manuscript after shit manuscript because they won’t take a break. Like any other muscle, you need to let the brain recover, too.

Unlike any other muscle, the brain does not need to merely rebuild some tissue. It has to flush out a lot of bad ideas, generate new ones, rethink old ones, absorb and integrate new facts, experiences and skills.

I’ve more and more (especially during grad school) become a burst writer — I will take notes for weeks, months sometimes, and then just dump it all out in a relatively short period of time. My master’s thesis was probably written in three or four sessions (100+ pages, all told). The editing time wasn’t any longer than when I used to write daily. It may have actually been shorter because the bulk of the work was coherent. Sadly, my mood and style and general ability to write is not consistent day to day (nor hour to hour, but that’s somewhat irrelevant).

Unfortunately, with a full-time job comes the necessary writing schedule. I think I used to take two or three hours “warming up” — typing a sentence or two, deleting them, turning the television on, wandering off for a beer, typing a little bit more, etc. — before I was able to just do the damn thing.

I don’t even have time to “warm up,” let alone get a good session in now. Adjusting is difficult.

Which is why I’m so happy that it seemed to just come back without any real hiccups. It’s slower, sure, but it feels okay.

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