Monday, November 03, 2008


My knee has healed and now it's all about using it, rebuilding its strength. Yes, friends, we have another great opportunity to compare physical exercise to writing processes...

Writing processes are sometimes interrupted for a period of time by extraneous events. Some of these are not interruptions, properly speaking, but planned breaks. Vacations are an example. You may also suddenly be burdened by an increased teaching load. Or you may simply have felt "burnt out" for a time (a common situation immediately after submitting a dissertation or, less commonly, a book.) Whatever the reason for the break, as with physical exercise, "getting back at it" is a specific challenge, and it is not to be taken lightly.

The most important thing is to establish a regular pattern of activity. You have to decide exactly when you will be writing, and you have allow the first few weeks to be less productive than you might wish. (I want to go jogging as soon as possible, I can assure you, but it's not going to happen this week. I will be going for some slow, careful walks first.)

Once you have to decided to write again, start out small. An hour or two every other day should be sufficient. Even half an hour is a start. But make yourself a schedule and stick to it.

Don't set unrealistic goals about content, but do define some themes to write about. Your schedule should tell you not just when to write, but what you will be writing about. (A minimal theme would be "whatever pops into my head", but then you really have to carry this free writing exercise through for that session.)

My doctor says I need to use my knee as much as possible. But I should it let it tell me when I've done enough or too much. Your writing "arm" will also give you feedback about how hard you are driving yourself at the beginning. Don't push yourself too hard at the beginning. It is too likely to make you stop before you have built up the necessary strength to maintain a healthy writing habit.

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