Straining My Fiction-Writing Muscles

Like many writers, I'm always telling myself stories. Some entertaining (the sleepy-looking checkout clerk is actually a part-time narcoleptic dragon), some boring (the cat in the window will pull pieces of kibble out of her bowl and scatter them across the floor before settling down on the bookshelf for a long nap), and some counterproductive (if I don't post this by an arbitrary, self-imposed deadline, all my creative works will languish in the pits of obscurity hell for all time). 

My brain constantly churns with new story ideas. However, I realized when I started the draft for a new short story that it's been a few YEARS since I've put typographical character to digital paper in a fictional capacity. I expected the words to flow effortlessly from my fingers, but I'm finding it to be hard work. It hurts. My brain aches with the strain of re-activating mental muscles after a long stretch of disuse.

Writing is work, in the same way physical exercise can be. The pictures in my head are flawless, buoyant, invigorating. The actual activity of translating the idea to written words is repetitive and at times, tedious.

  • line of dialogue
  • dialogue tag
  • line of dialogue
  • beat of action
  • line of dialogue
  • beat of action

Does look similar to an exercise regimen, right?

It's not always like this. When you hit your stride and get into the flow, it's not weightlifting reps anymore. It becomes a fluid game of Ultimate, soaring through the air, questing for the disc. I'm excited to get back to that point. I find it helps to be playful, ignore the rules, jump and dance around, and certainly not edit as I go.

Have you been surprised to find a once-regular activity tough to get back into after a long hiatus? Do you have tips for getting over that initial hump? Share below!