I am sore. I’ve been working out on a regular basis for the first time since my little league soccer days and it hurts. Muscles hurt that I didn’t even know I had. Everything aches, but that is the price of growing healthier and stronger.
This weekend, I also devoted several hours to writing. I put on my Epic Soundtracks Pandora station to get me going and sat in silence for a long, long, long time before I could think of a single thing to type. My first sentences came in fits and starts. It reminded me of my first couple of times at the gym this past month. I’m still slow to start and slow to see any progress, but as momentum builds, so will my long-dormant muscles.
I firmly believe that the creative impulse is a muscle. Without regular exercise, it will atrophy. When you start from scratch after a long absence from writing, your neurons are rusty from lack of use. You can even feel mentally sore. Writing is often a painful process, especially after you get out of the habit of exposing your raw stories to the page. But if you push past it, that muscle remembers its former strength. The pain of writing never goes away, but it can motivate you to dig deeper.
It took most of the day, but from that first smattering of words, I wrote an entire short story, start to finish. Afterward, I felt a little burned out. It has taken me two days to build up the mental ability to write this blog post about it. I’m just starting out again after falling off the wagon. With time and practice, I’ll get better.
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Jonny Eberle is a writer in Tacoma, WA. You can find him on Twitter at @jonnyeberle.