Out of writing shape

Is happiness a good enough excuse for not writing as much as you thought you should or could? I was kind of depressed a couple of weeks ago, and then really happy last week. The end result is still the same – falling behind the plan. The bad news is that my tracking spreadsheet looks like this:

Tracking Indiot 11 March 2016

The good news? After two weeks of editing and cutting frustration, procrastination, relaxation, and a whole bunch of other flatlining activities, I finally wrote 3,000 words today. I feel both exhausted and hopeful because something occurred to me.

I’m just unfit.

Not physically, although that one also needs work – I’m out of writing shape. After finally lifting 3,000 words off the ground, I know that I can do it again. I have the vision of what it might feel like to be “writing fit” – to have the discipline and confidence of sitting down and writing a few thousand words without feeling out of breath or close to a stroke. It’s just like exercise – you have to start somewhere, and then do a little more every day, until it comes naturally.

I know I can do it because I had a similar epiphany with physical fitness.  I used to be all soft and pudgy when I moved to Australia from the US almost eight years ago, your typical office worker. I frequented all you can eat buffets and worked out by reading while pedalling on the stationary bike. It was not until I started lifting weights that things began to change. I remember the first time I noticed muscle definition in my arm one morning while brushing my teeth. The first time I ran after a tram and caught it, and the first time I felt the “corset” of the core muscles working even as I walked. Then there was a huge mental leap, too – to accept that I was not genetically fated to be pudgy, that the body I had was the result of my choices, and that I could be an “antelope” as I liked to think of myself.

A lot of people don’t know what it feels like to be fit, and I now accept that I simply don’t know what it feels like to be able to write two or three thousand words every day without fail. All I can say is that I had one hell of a writing workout today.

Hope to see some definition in my writing arm tomorrow!

54 Comments

Filed under Shizzle, Inc.

54 responses to “Out of writing shape

  1. You deserve at “atta girl”! It really is a form of behavior modification to build good health and writing habits. I have fallen off that wagon so many times, but each time I return, I do a bit better. You give me such encouragement! Keep running toward your goal!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Alexandria W.

    You are not alone. I’ve been going through the same thing. Trying to get back to my everyday writing. But sometimes it just isn’t there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s hard. I’m constantly tweaking things to see if it helps me find my stride – setting up a comfy and sparse place to write certainly did. Also, I sit down to write first thing in the morning, under “first things first” motto. Finally, tracking and being honest with myself also helps.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Glad to see another post. I am following your journey with great interest. Your vision of personal “slackness” in your writing life looks like a rocket to me. A rocket ascending in a vapor trail, leaving me standing there looking. You are in your groove, doing it and making it happen. It all depends on your view. You are looking at it from the inside and you have set firm goals and I am looking at it from the outside and I see nothing but outrageous success. You are inspiring. I am trying to lasso your rocket in my own personal writing life. I need that boost to start putting my own words and scenes together into something coherent.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. First, congratulations! I remember the first time I wrote an astounding (to me) amount of words in one day. Amazing!
    Second, you know after you have a huge break through with the weights, finding you can suddenly do 20-30-40 pounds more on several actions? Then the next day your body feels…discombobulated? Nodding, that happens the to brain too. If you’re prepared you can gentle yourself through it and smile when you get only 1000 words without wondering why, why you can’t make three and it’s so hard today.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. 3,000 words is nothing to sneeze at. Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Tamara Kulish

    For me personally I’ve found that some days the words don’t come out sounding how I want them to yet in other days I can be in a magical flow! If I keep at it daily, I’ve come to accept that there’s going to be god days, great days and not very good days! Even when I’m “taking time off” writing during a day, my mind is quietly working in the background to sort through issues and roadblocks! Sometimes I’ll have an epiphany while out for a walk, and other times my brain reveals what it has worked out when I sit down at my laptop!

    Writing and creating art needs to have its ups and downs! We need to honor that personal rhythm and not push ourselves relentlessly beyond it or we may find it has become a grind and the joy we once felt while creating has quietly walked away!

    I’ve seen this happen first hand! When I lived in Santa Fe, I was a member of an artist’s group. We met weekly on an informal basis. The artists who had been exhibiting for years in galleries felt trapped by the style they had become known for. They had become production machines and no longer felt joy in creating! They were depressed and lamented.

    Then here came Tamara… Telling them to try something new and fresh, to do it just for the sheer joy of doing it! Oh, there was resistance! Why? It was based on the fear of rejection! They were afraid that if their gallery found out they were working on something new and it was found out, that the gallery would drop them out of fear they wouldn’t get more signature pieces out of them!

    So, their lives had become joyless and they felt trapped, all because they had created a set in stone environment for themselves!

    Ebb and flow is quite normal! Allowing your natural rhythm to manifest will help in your creativity!

    You have a very strong work thic and that’s to be applauded! Trust your brain and your creative spirit to keep working out different angles in the subconscious reaches of your mind even when you have some down time! It’s good to push but please remember to honor that creative process! It can become saturated quicker on some days and flow abundantly on others!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Tamara 🙂 I certainly don’t want for this to become a grind – this is my escape from the “regular” world. At the same time, I know I have a tendency to waffle without a structure and I would hate for the 5 months to pass with me waking up at the end with “where did the time go?”

      I have been alternating writing bounds with house projects, walks and reading, so these two weeks have been awesome. I might even post photos of my apartment – it has never looked better 🙂

      Like

  7. Hi Ana, In all my years as a writer, I have never been able to keep to a word-count structured schedule. Some days I manage nothing, on another maybe 1,500 words, but then there are the 10,000 word days, when my creativity, determination and drive simply won’t let me stop at some predetermined and arbitrary word count. Just let it flow.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Peter. 10,000K words in a day? Amazing 🙂

      Yes, it’s hard to be creative on demand, and it’s even harder to be funny when you feel like crying. I aim for weekly goals with daily tracking, so if I manage a couple of 10K days a week, I could kick back on others 🙂

      Like

  8. K. Hules

    Hi Ana,
    If you want to exercise and bring up your word count, try Nanowrimo, National Novel Writing Month where you write 50,000 words in November. It has done wonders for my writing. If you don’t want to wait until then, they’re doing Camp Nano (http://campnanowrimo.org/sign_in) next month where you can set your own goal and work with others. Might be a good jumpstart for your workout. :]

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Congratulations on a great writing workout! I’m impressed that you keep track of your word count; knowing where you stand is half the battle.

    I did all of that — writing like gangbusters and keeping track — during my first NaNoWriMo last November. And when I totally focused, I kicked serious butt on that word count. I felt just how you described it, that I discovered my inner writing antelope. But when I had to try to integrate that writing habit into my regular life? Well, there were the holidays, and… okay, it was just too easy to fall back into my pudgy habits. Thanks for the reminder to keep on slogging!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Joy! I’ve been a project manager and people manager for so long, I can’t help but set KPIs and measure performance 🙂 I’m a big believer of the “if it’s not measured, it can’t be improved” and I want to improve my writing habits. Nothing like a flatline to remind yourself to sit your butt down to work…

      Like

      • Very good points. But I’m curious, how do you do it for revisions? I got so heady about the idea of word count during NaNo, but not sure how to keep that up now. During the revision process I’m almost always trying to *reduce* the words. It’s hard to think of a good progress rubric for “fix this!” when it’s never quite clear how fixed it is.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I think you can set different and appropriate KPIs for different stages of the process. Word count is appropriate for the first draft, while for editing it may be % of the manuscript completed.

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      • Also, having an editor, whether paid or volunteer. That way you know exactly what to fix…

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  10. You have every right to be proud of yourself. Head down and keep moving forward. You got this!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. What a perfectly brilliant analogy. It made so much sense that I want to run home a write 3,000 words just to get started! Great post! 🙂 And well done for actually doing it. 👍🏻

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Hey Ana,

    good luck and keep at it

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I’m glad you’re feeling better! I applaud you for still continuing to write as much as possible even after being depressed! You’re still progressing even if it’s not as rapidly as you’d like.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I’ll know I’m out of writing shape if I start hanging clothes on my computer like I do on my treadmill.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. This is inspiring! I’m going to do my best to write 200 words everyday for a start. 🙂 I have writer’s block most days.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. The sad fact for me is that the more hours I have available, the less I seem to write. You have to be so, so, so disciplined if you’re at home all day. Yes, exercise and keeping fit are a must. My dog makes sure I get some fresh air and a walk every day, as I’m sure yours does. Social media is a terrible distraction. Even blogging is at times. When writing my last novel, I would not allow myself to go online at all, until 15.30 hours every day (dog feeding time!). Without such a rule, I’d never have got the book finished. On the other hand, it is no good beating yourself up on days when the writing doesn’t want to happen. Good luck!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Sarah – this is all very new to me, plus a lot has been happening in my personal life. Things have settled, so I hope to establish a rhythm. Discipline is a must…but it’s so hard! I’m still a green grasshopper when it comes to working from home 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  17. miladyronel

    We all fall into those “meh” days. Doing NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) last November really helped – I had a whole online community of writers who were also challenging themselves to write 50k words in a month (lots of encouragement). I actually wrote the first draft (100k) of my novel…
    In April there’s Camp NaNoWriMo – you can set your own word challenge and you’ll be sorted into a cabin with 11 other writers who share your interest/goal/whatever for the month. Maybe you should try it for the encouragement and accountability such a group has to offer.
    Good luck with your writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Tracking spreadsheet? (Question from an old person, so be gentle!)

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I have tried to work to a word count, and, sitting in front of the computer, or just a small note pad, sometimes the ideas don’t come. I find the pressure of a target sometimes makes it very difficult to write, even gibberish, a language my granddaughters seem to think I’m fluent in.
    What I do is write when the ideas flow, no set word count, so it could be a hundred words, a thousand words or a whole chapter. I have learned now to go with the flow, and on occasion can be still sitting at the desk at three am wondering why I’m not sleeping.
    There is no set time, unfortunately for me, when ideas come, worse when you are in the middle of a conversation, and something is said that sparks an idea. People sometimes think I’m crazy.
    When they realize I’m a writer, they just nod knowingly.
    I have been following your authorial exploits with keen interest, and note you are having relatively greater success at marketing than I, and I’m glad to say I am learning from your advice.
    Thanks, and keep up the good work!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s awesome – thank you for letting me know 🙂 in terms of the word count, I think it’s no problem at all if writing was to remain as hobby. Currently in trying to pretend that I’m a full time writer, and producing on demand is extremely challenging. Still, if it was to become my profession, I have to learn somehow how to stay on time and meet deadlines. Either that, or back to the office desk 🙂

      Like

  20. I too am a full time writer, because I can no longer work due to rheumatoid arthritis, which can be a bug bear where I want to type out the second draft from notes, or when I want to write and my hand can’t hold the pencil, but aside from that, I agree you have to set targets, which I try. My last was August 2015 and the book finally got published in February 2016.
    What I found to be a side effect is research. I often find myself in a different country, and thanks to google, I’m almost a tourist in reality. Most of the time I’ve been before, and it’s just fact checking.
    All of this activities need time to swirl around in my mind, and then, when the words come, they come. This may happen over a few days, where a section is written, then revised, then more, then revision, then a subtle change, and oops, it’s back to the start.
    I know I need to bang out a first draft, but sometimes, when I put my head on the pillow, the words just written don’t gel, and the next morning, it;s re-write.
    All of this, of course, impedes the logical ‘get it done’, 2,000 words a day or die mantra, but ultimately it’s what you are comfortable with.
    But, please, don’t put too much pressure on yourself. When it gets too much I can talk to the cat, oddly named Chester, and a bottle of Single Malt. And, no, I don’t share it with the cat.

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  21. klari.boo

    😦 dont feel so bad as long as you are happy then dont feel weighed down by expectations

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Excellent points. I never thought of it like that before, but now that I can, I totally see what you mean. Our “fitness” is a result of our “choices” – and I have definitely been slacking on my choices, lately. But I’m getting back into the groove of things, so me reading this post now is a stroke of good luck, I’d say. ^_^

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Pingback: I wrote 2.8Kwords today. And 2.6K yesterday. What’s changed, you ask? | Ana Spoke, author

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