Thursday, June 22, 2017

Breathe In, Breathe Out

Today's poster made me think of professional athletes. A basketball player shoots thousands of baskets in a career and doing so is as natural as taking a breath to stay alive. Not having a ball in hand and aiming at the little round hoop ahead would make a basketball player very anxious if he went days without doing so. 

We're no different. If we want to become a pro at this writing game, the first thing we must do is to write and write and write. Every single day, or almost every day. We do have to take time out for emergencies, major events, illness and a few other monumental moments. If we aim at writing something every day, it becomes a habit. I believe that the more we write, the more we want to write. 

If you write only occasionally, it's easier to let inspiration slide on by. What if you're out on the beach and a family nearby creates a situation that makes you want to write a story? If you don't act on it soon, the idea pushes itself farther and farther back into the recesses of your mind. You might pluck it out someday, or you could leave it there, buried under several other 'put aside' ideas. 

If you have a regular writing habit, you're more likely to act on the inspiration of the beach scene early the next day, or day it occurred. If you happened to have a notepad in your beach bag, you could jot down thoughts to be used in your next writing session. 

I've found that, after every writing conference I attend, my muse strikes up the band and I want to get home so I can start writing. I've written in airports and on planes because the ideas from the conference are swirling in my mind and begging to be acted upon. And yes, in this kind of situation, I do get anxious if I can't write. 

I also get anxious if something prevents me from writing for a few days when I'm home and not all that far from my keyboard. Writing something every day is like taking that daily vitamin pill. I do it because I know it's good for me. (And also because I love it!) Writing every day gives me writing energy. Once begun, never done! 

If you are away from writing for a lengthy period of time--say weeks, or (gasp!) months, it might be harder to get back in the groove again. Or, it could work the opposite and you'll want to dive in headfirst and write in every spare minute. 

I do know, firsthand, that if you skip a couple days, it's pretty easy to pass by on that third and fourth day. Discipline yourself to write something every day. It doesn't have to be 1000 words. It can be a journal entry, or those Morning Pages we've talked about before, or a short poem. Maybe a paragraph or two doing a writing exercise. 

Write until you can't stand it if you don't write. Breathe in, breathe out and keep writing.

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