Writing is a muscle. I know that. If you don’t exercise it, you lose strength and ability.
My writing muscles are a little weak right now, but I’m trying to work on that. Inspiration has hit in a few forms for me lately.
One is my writing group. We started meeting in July, and I love those ladies already. They are all passionate about books and writing. We don’t all write the same types of things, but we all know that it is something we love to do.
Another inspiration is that I’m reading Stephen King’s On Writing. It’s a book written for other writers, telling about King’s experiences and giving advice. I don’t buy in to a lot of writing advice books, but I had a bunch of recommendations for this from my writing group and other people.
One quote that struck me from the book this week is about not just treating writing as a fling.
“You can approach the act of writing with nervousness, excitement, hopefulness, or even despair – the sense that you can never completely put on the page what’s in your mind and heart. You can come to the act with your fists clenched and your eyes narrowed, ready to kick ass and take down names. You can come to it because you want a girl to marry you or because you want to change the world. Come to it any way but lightly. Let me say it again: you must not come lightly to the blank page.
“I’m not asking you to come reverently or unquestioningly; I’m not asking you to be politically correct or cast aside your sense of humor (please God you have one). This isn’t a popularity contest, it’s not the moral Olympics, and it’s not church. But it’s writing, damn it, not washing the car or putting on eyeliner. If you can take it seriously, we can do business. If you can’t or won’t, it’s time for you to close the book and do something else.
“Wash the care, maybe.”
Reading this left me feeling a little ashamed, a little questioning of my own habits. I feel like I have no excuses. Writing is either part of my life or it’s not. It doesn’t matter if I don’t get to do any real writing at work. It doesn’t matter that I have a million other things pulling at my life right now.
If I’m truly serious about writing, and having a career writing, I need to write. End of story. It doesn’t matter what I’m writing, but each day should have something in it that exercises my writing skills and muscles.
I did some of my best writing in my teenage years, when I lived in a small town that had very little to offer in the way of entertainment on the weekends and evenings. Then, I wasn’t worried about many of the things I worry about now. I knew I wanted to write, and I had ideas.
So I wrote. I sat on the arm of an ugly, hard couch and wrote on our old 1990s Macintosh computer over about four or five years and wrote. Out came two full-length novels, a few starts to novels and several short stories.
It was pure first draft writing, free and without judgement. It was the kind of writing where you are completely absorbed, so much so that hours would pass and you’d forget being hungry or thirsty. It was amazing in a sense that the majority of the time, it felt like the stories were writing themselves and I was only a conduit, my fingers the vehicle to put the stories on paper.
I want to capture that sense of writing again. I want to be a writer like that again. I can only do that if I approach it seriously, without judgement or thoughts on what else I could be doing at that present time instead.
So here goes.