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  • Writer's pictureCaroline Richardson

Concepts About Writing: Writing is a Muscle

Updated: Jun 14, 2021

There are moments when I want to quit writing.

I wonder what the point is. Nothing is working, it all feels forced, I get frustrated with myself. My story sucks, the characters are all one dimensional and terrible. I feel tired and worn out.

So I take a break for a few days or a couple of weeks. Do something else creative like jewelry making, drawing, soap making. I know the break is over when I am so squirrelly that I have to sit down and write something, anything, or I will explode!

In the early 2000’s, when life was very different for me, I wrote a series of fan fiction stories based on the 2004 King Arthur movie. The movie was incredibly inspiring, and opened the floodgates to my creativity for years afterwards, even if most of what I wrote was awful.

Sometimes, when I am especially frustrated with my writing, I read through the abandoned boneyard of my fanfic writing, and more recent original fiction written since then.

For that exact reason, I do not regret one word of that writing, because it was indeed a pathway to where I am now. It served the purpose of practice and is a reminder that I am a much better writer for it.

Which is the concept I am trying to relay, albeit long-winded.

Writing is a muscle.

You need to use it to make it stronger. As Neil Gaiman says “I learned to write by writing”. I know of no writer who has gotten worse each time they completed a draft of a novel, or finished a work. You always learn something and grow.

At heart, you are gaining strength until one day the ideas come easier, the writing flows better, the practice becomes routine. The moments of doubt and wanting to quit are replaced with understanding that you need to take a break. To rest the muscle so it can repair and come back stronger.

You have to keep writing to keep the muscle strong. So don’t stop. Even if your idea ends up in the trash. Even if you feel like there is no light at the end of the forced march across the page.

Everything you write serves to build that writing muscle into something stronger and more resilient.

I have written since I was a child. I finally feel I became a writer only recently.

These are my benchmarks, they aren’t the same as anyone else’s. Everyone will discover when their writing muscle is strong enough to identify with it, and there are no timelines or requirements.

As long as you keep flexing that muscle?

It will happen.

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