You know that one workout where you just can’t finish another bicycle crunch? Gasping and sweating and fighting back the cramping in your muscles, you do another push-up, another minute on the treadmill–you do it because you know it’s worth it. You’ll have an excuse to eat that slice of German chocolate cake, you’ll feel that rush of endorphins all day, and maybe after a few months you’ll see that muffin-top vanish like a bad dream. Right? It’s hard work, but it’ll pay off in the end. You can feel it in your bones, even when you can’t fully extend your hamstrings for the next two days.
I’ve been talking with quite a few fellow authors lately who are in some sort of creative vacuum–unable to finish a story, unable to bridge the gap between Act Two and Act Three (okay maybe that’s me), unable to even start writing that First Great Novel but knowing it’s in there–and it feels a lot like that extra thigh I picked up last winter that’s starting to make me question my lifestyle. “Where am I going wrong? Why can’t I defeat this?”
Getting fit doesn’t stop at just working off that last attempted hibernation. I wish we could all stand around and beam creativity down from an invisible well of inspiration in the sky, but I want to confess something: I have pretty good evidence that it doesn’t exist. There is no liposuction for writer’s block. The only thing that can help is good, old-fashioned hard work and dedication.
However, like dragging yourself to the gym or just getting out and walking every day, it’s not really that difficult to do just a little bit and have it really pay off. It helps to bind yourself to a schedule; to give yourself (writing) exercises every day; to get together with someone else who can keep you accountable.
It’ll be hard at first, but with persistence, you’ll notice the difference. A good workout will make you feel like a champ. It floods you with regular doses of endorphins for hours afterwards. It gives you an excuse to enjoy more of the things you love. Forcing your fingers to the keyboard for an hour each day, tasking yourself to practicing your craft on flash fiction or short stories–as your skill grows the process gets easier, and you’ll feel like you really earned that episode of your favorite TV show or a couple of hours in front of Mass Effect 3. And best of all, that glacier of a writer’s block you’ve got there will slowly start to melt away, and pouring that story you’ve been meaning to finish out all over a blank page could turn into a daily affair.