It is. I’m sure of it.
It’s tough as hell for me to sit at the keyboard for an hour if the most typing that I’ve done the previous week is filling out the delivery notes for the driver on UberEats (‘The bell doesn’t really work so you have to press it reallllly hard. Oh and don’t be startled by the barks the dog is quite friendly”).
But if I’ve been in the trenches, banging out 1K words a day on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, its a drop in the ocean to man the deck again on Thursday and knock out another few hundred (although by Friday I may be drained and gone – more on that later).
And like physical activity, it can be trained. And in the same way, it has to be approached like a half-wild animal.
Slowly, and from the front.
If, after an extended leave of absence from doing any writing, I force myself to sit and return to my old routine of X hundred (Or X thousand for those rare and joyous weeks when the ratio of inspiration to motivation is finely and delicately balance), I won’t feel like doing so the next day.
My head will be fuzzy, I’ll tire quicker, and my patience will drain faster. I’ll make excuses, close the LibreOffice document earlier, and then spend the evening frustrated with myself.
But why would I do this?
If I’ve gone several weeks without going to the gym, I can’t walk triumphantly through the doors and bang out sets of 8 pull ups.
Or maybe I can, once. Then I won’t be able to lift my arms.
For about a week.
It’s the same principle. I need to build the stamina back up.
I have to adapt to it. Go in and do 3 pull ups. Aim for 300 words in a writing session. Once the target is hit, it’s a success, regardless of the number, or how that number compares to what might have been done in the same time in the past.
Then the next time, I do 5 pull ups. Maybe I get 500 words (Once in a blue moon those two things might happen in the one day. If so, it’s a damn good day).
Soon, I’m doing sets of 10 pull ups, or getting close to 1000 words. It takes much of the same effort. But it doest affect me so much. I can still move after the workout, and carry shopping bags. I can still perform mental tasks after the writing session. My brain isn’t mush (well, any more than normal).
This won’t work every day, of course. If I want to build a routine, in the gym or at the writing desk, then time spent away from either activity is a huge part of doing so.
Muscles repair and get stronger during rest. The brain consolidates ideas and strengthens connections when away from the task in question. And i can avoid burnout, mental or physical.
And in that way, stamina gets built. For the body, or the mind. The iron bar, or the blank page.
As always, let me know what you thought of this piece, enjoy your routine, however you’ve set them up, and enjoy the process.
Message from the Author:
Thanks for reading! I’m always looking to connect with like minded writers and creatives. In today’s world, I think it’s really important to find people who are like minded and doing good creative work, and help raise each other up. If you like what I’m doing here, have some pieces of your own you think I’d enjoy, or just want to connect, reach out to me here or on Twitter at @WriteOfPassage3.
2 thoughts on “Writing Stamina is a Real Thing”
I love the images of an iron bar and a blank page I got from reading this post. You’re absolutely right about stamina, and I find that writing often feels like working out. Keep writing. You’re a “bloggy-builder!”
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Thanks for the kind words, Hyacinth and I love that phrase- ‘bloggy-builder’!
And thanks very much for reading, I appreciate it 🙂
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