Out of Practice

Writing is a skill like any other. If you stop writing, you begin to forget things.

The first day it might be a character’s motivation for picking a fight with her best friend. Rewriting the scene to change the fight with something else to start it makes the scene where they make up (or part ways forever) a little different, too.

Then the notes jotted on the side of the climax scene start losing their clarity. Why did they need to climb that mountain, anyway?

Soon the entire project gets dusty sitting on the shelf with no idea left in the writer’s head what was supposed to happen to it. That isn’t always a bad thing – getting distance is important for some writers to be able to pick up the pen and edit or rewrite to get the best pieces of the story to the surface.

However, there’s only so long a project can sit without gaining too much distance. It isn’t always a good thing to pull something out of a drawer and say “did I write that?”

Even if a writer needs distance before digging into that first major edit, take that time to write something else. There are other stories to be told, and a writer continues to write.

I took too much time off, though I didn’t mean to. Class took too much time from me – some weeks I spent about 20 hours preparing for Friday, where I spent about 6 hours at the college. On top of my other two part-time jobs. I do know that if I had it more together, I’d have eked out a story or something in that time anyway.

Some people don’t know how I manage to do the things I do manage, but it doesn’t feel like I’m accomplishing that much on a daily basis. Except for my daughter – she’s coming along well. She’s walking and talking and generally getting into everything as she explores her world.

So, I guess I’ve been working on my top priority. Everything else has been second place. Writing is coming back, slowly, but it’s been a couple months. I barely know how to start a story anymore. I didn’t think those skills would get rusty so fast.

I’ve finally caught up on the class; all that’s left is to grade homework and give them a final next Friday. Unfortunately it sounds like another class is on the horizon with another new curriculum to sort out. I have got to get a story done between now and then.

Somehow. I mean, nobody looks back on their deathbed and wishes they spent more time cleaning the house, right?

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