I’m having a quiet Saturday. What I mean by this is I’m probably going to end up writing just as much as on any other given day, only I don’t intend to let my obsessive self-pressure get to me if I don’t write.
Some writers can go hard every day. Some writers can go hard every day at talking about writing every day. I am neither of those. While I’m all for the idea of there being a ‘writing muscle’ you need to work out in order to strengthen, I’m also perhaps more literal than most with that metaphor.
I believe that, like the body’s muscles, the writing muscle also needs recovery and nutrition in order to strengthen:
Recovery being rest days, where you don’t write. Or at least, where you don’t make a point of sitting down to write. If it happens naturally without you expending much effort, then by all means! I’d equate that to strolling down to the shops for an ice cream rather than, say, going for a 3km power walk for the purpose of getting fit.
Nutrition being what you consume to feed your creativity. Consider this a vital indulgence like breathing, eating, drinking and sleeping.
Maybe I’m different to a lot of writers at my level in that, by default, I approach projects with an intensity that borders on unhealthy. Given this, the ‘write every day’ mantra, which others may take with a grain of salt, is a powder keg in my hands.
The pressure mounts. Stress compounds. Fatigue sets in and I start writing badly, which leads me to depression, discouragement, impostor syndrome, burnout, and getting corked (the exact opposite of what writing every day is supposed to give you).
Plus, it sucks all the fun out of it. Really, at the end of the day, I tell stories because I enjoy it, not because I have to force myself to. Improving my craft is useful, and maximising my output is what’s going to pay the bills, but if that’s all that mattered, I’d have stuck with writing technical docs instead of fiction.
Ever since removing that pressure (ie. adding creative recovery and nutrition to my routine), I’ve felt more natural and confident with my writing. Words have flowed more easily and sometimes unintentionally.
I actually hadn’t planned on writing today at all. I meant to spend 10 minutes fooling around on the internet then getting back to cleaning the house. But I glanced over a low-urgency todo list and saw write a blog post. I didn’t have to force myself. The mere suggestion was all it took for me to log into WordPress and get cracking.
Now, I’m going to force myself to recover and get nourishment. I’m going to put some dishes away, read a comic book, hit the gym and enjoy some Netflix.
Img via SnapbyThree MY (CC0)