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Returning from time off

September 27, 2014
Posted at 3:37 pm

A few summers ago, I prepared to teach a summer workshop for budding writers. I sketched out several ideas, did some research online for techniques when working with people starting out, and reflected on my own starts and stops in writing. I finally concluded that the message which I wanted all of the students to take away when they were done was to set aside some time every day to write. I even drafted a contract to be signed by the parents so they would buy into this allotment of time.

Now I need to rethink this simple message, because my life rarely has given a block of time every day for more than a few months which allowed me the luxury of indulging in what I wanted to do when I was mentally ready to do it.

When my schedule changed at the end of the summer, I found that there were at least two days every week during which it would be impossible to find time to write. I understood it and built it into my schedule. Now I am in the position of having written nothing in the past week and a half other than a few grammatical and spelling mistakes a week ago - the loss of our beloved family dog really made writing overwhelmingly difficult. So the question is how to overcome the time off.

Intellectually, I know that the answer is just to start writing again. However, I liken it somewhat to exercise. I have tried to get fit many times over my life, and every plan failed at some point when I realized that not exercising was more enjoyable than exercising. (The sages were right: putting on running shoes is the hardest part of jogging.) Missing one day made skipping the next day easier. I would then jump start my program again for a day or two until I took more time off. Before I was willing to admit it, I was finished with that plan.

Writing, at least, is far more enjoyable (and my fingers are in good shape). As of now, I accept that I took time off; I am not going to beat myself up over it. I needed the escape from my routine as a new routine would emerge, so the break was worthwhile. However, I have too many story ideas to leave them electronically rotting in the "rotting drawer".

So, putting on my writing shoes again, I begin anew.