It hit me today that (for me) writing is very much like exercise.
For about the past year I’ve been really bad for exercising. I always seem to have some reason or excuse why it’s not a convenient time to exercise. I’m either too tired, I have a headache, there are other things to do that are more important, there are other things I’d rather do (and so little time to do everything I want to do) or I simply don’t feel like it. The stupid thing is when I don’t exercise, I feel guilty. I get angry with myself for putting it off knowing that when I do exercise I feel good afterward. As much as I sometimes have to force myself to get started with exercise, I am almost always glad afterward that I did it. And then it makes me want to keep at it. When I get on a good roll with it, it makes me feel great and makes me want more. On the other hand, the longer I stay away from it, the harder it is to get back at it and the less motivated I am to get back on track.
It’s very much the same for me with writing. I go through periods of weeks, sometimes months where I will write little, if anything at all. With each day that passes, it gets easier and easier to put it off. There’s always an excuse. Maybe I’m tired from working all day, or I feel like I should spend the little time I have with my family. Sometimes I’m not feeling motivated or inspired to write. Often I am legitimately busy with other things. And sometimes (though not often enough lately), I choose to pass up my writing time to make time to exercise. The longer I go without writing, the more I forget all the reasons I write in the first place. But the pull to write never goes away, and like the failure to exercise, when I am not writing I feel a lot of guilt for not making the time for it.
For the past two days I’ve found myself with a fair bit of free time and have used some of it to work on my current novel. I wrote a chapter yesterday and was reminded of how much I enjoy the process of writing. In fact, once I got started, it was hard to stop. This morning when I woke up, I could hardly wait to get back at it. I wrote nother chapter and started a third. Whenever I make the time to write I remember how much I love it and wonder what it is that could keep me from it for so long. Why do I make excuses, and procrastinate on doing something I enjoy? It’s not like this is a
new revelation or something. I’ve been going through this cycle for years.
The whole thing seems so stupid to me and I have no answers as to why I do this. Now that I have gotten back into a bit of a groove, I hope that this time I will stick to it and not forget the pleasure it gives me.