I just got back from over a week of traveling which involved working two three-day live events. Our smart, motivated attendees were popping with ideas and were just plain FUN! We learned a lot, laughed a lot, and I may have eaten a tad too much.
And now, I am home and I had my first workout in 12 days.
OWWW! Just OWWW!
It’s not that I didn’t exercise AT ALL while I was away (those wine glasses are HEAVY!), but I didn’t do my normal weight training. I am currently a walking example of use it or lose it.
Writing is the same way. It is so much easier to write, and your writing has much greater clarity, when you write on a regular basis.
If you’ve been away from a large project such as a book for more than a week, you have to go back and re-familiarize yourself with the material to get your bearings and your voice again. Your writing muscles are stiff and the writing isn’t fluid.
I write every day—after all, that’s how I make my living (Yay!)—but I also work on a variety of projects. Each project is on a different subject for a different audience which means they are each written in a unique voice. Fortunately for you, you only need your voice.
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received was to write three pages first thing every morning (The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron–Excellent!). Even if you write three pages of drivel, it gets you into the habit of writing. And, because it’s not meant to be seen by anyone, it teaches you not to react to your inner critic. No one’s going to read it or judge it; you’re writing for the sake of writing: free form, stream of consciousness, whatever you feel like writing.
Eventually, you write something pretty good that you can use. That’s a bonus.
Here’s the Real Payoff
When you sit down to work on your book or any other writing, your writing flows, your ideas are more organized, you fall into your natural rhythm and voice. Your writing pace is faster because you’re no longer struggling with the mechanics of writing. Your writing is also less self-conscious which helps your personality and voice shine through.
Try it for two weeks. Block out 45 minutes or so each day and write three pages of anything. I write first thing in the morning, using a pad of paper and pen (old school styling!), coffee at the ready. In fact, I’m doing it right now. You may not be able to hit it first thing in the morning. Grab some time when you can. It might be late at night when the kids are asleep and the house is quiet. Or sneak into another room when everyone is settled in watching their favorite TV shows. Or hit a quiet corner in a coffee shop at lunch or before you get home from work and write your three pages then.
Don’t try to make the writing coherent or “about” anything, just get used to writing and filling three pages. Let your thoughts wander and your pen follow. You’ll find the more you write, the easier it gets to write. Eventually, your three pages will naturally become more “useful” whether it is a blog post, chapters of a book, or just idea tracking. Just like working out, you are conditioning your body to write.
Exercise your writer’s muscles and watch your writing shape up.