Welcome to the place where I rant, rave and discuss books, writing, the town of Cobourg Ontario and anything else that strikes my fancy.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Mind muscle memory

“Practice makes perfect?” Maybe. But idleness does cause atrophy. Back when I was writing everyday, stories came naturally to me. Everything I saw and did related somehow to writing. Movies, books, a walk on the beach, the texture of food, the smell of my dog, and how certain events made me feel.

It’s been a couple of months since I’ve written anything fictitious, and now when I try, my brain freezes up – it doesn’t flow like it used to. Ideas don’t just pop into my head, and a story doesn’t simply appear by staring at a blank screen.

Upon reflection, I believe the creative writing muscle in our minds is not unlike a bicep. If you work it out every day, you’ll tone and define it. Maybe at first you won’t be able to lift a car one-handed, but as you keep building the muscle in different ways, it will become stronger. You can lift up the couch easily while you vacuum underneath it, it’s not a car, but it’s a start.

Until you stop.

Then the muscle returns to normal, maybe weaker than before, and you find yourself handing off a jar of pickles for someone else to open.

That is until one day, you wake up and remember, you wanted to be able to lift a car one-handed. You walk over to the couch, and try with all your might to lift it, and it doesn’t budge. You’re left with an ache in your shoulder and a small congregation of dust bunnies under your sofa. The good news? Muscle memory. If you’ve done it once, you can do it again. Your muscles remember what to do, even if you don’t, and with a little exercise, practice and discipline, they can jump right back on track. Your bicep muscles don’t forget, and neither does your creative writing muscles.

So here’s to starting back at square one. Am I willing to start all over again, to exercise that creative writing muscle in my mind until it is toned and defined? Damn straight I am. Are you?


  1. Nina, I tried (unsuccessfully) to take a break from writing after completing my novel. Something inside me, however, kept pushing me - and now I find that I'm still writing. Now I don't know if it is anything as good as part three of my novel, but it is coming along.
    Part of this is habit. Filling in those blank times in the evening before going to bed. Part of it is my own form of OCD, and my need to keep going. Part of it is that I haven't finished yet with the characters I've introduced, who have taken on some kind of life of their own. And a little bit of it is simply that I like to write and it's fun.
    But the writing bug did not hit me until 1989, so... my writing muscle is still getting some exercise.

  2. I took almost a six month break after completing my second book and sending it to my publisher. It was difficult to start back up even after the right idea hit for the next book. However, it's like riding a bicycle - once you get into the groove again, it all comes back.

  3. good for you, woman! get back to it!
    i've been wondering where you were.
    glad you're back (even if you dont blog about it, keep writing)

  4. Stopping by from Leaky Pencil...congrats on your nomination. I am in the list too and wanted to visit all the blogs.

    Nice blog. Hope you can stop by for a visit at my blog.