“It doesn’t get any easier. You just get stronger.”
I could wax poetic about how January is about fresh starts, but there are so many different times and seasons that are referred to as the “new year” in their various contexts, that the only thing about the standard calendar is that it aligns with a numbered system. However, it just so happens that as of this past week, my personal schedule has lined up with the opportunity to make necessary changes in my life. And as I said to Alex when he posted a few weeks ago, that means taking better care of my health.
My local gym has those words on the wall. At first it sounds a bit eyeroll-inducing. “Yeah, yeah.” But then, as I’ve been killing it on the elliptical this week, it kept coming back to me, and I started to realize just how much that applies to more than just building physical muscle, stamina, and endurance.
I can speak to this with honesty and from my personal experience: I had a really rough year last year. And my writing suffered. It was hard to produce. I certainly didn’t update my personal blog, or share notes. Connecting with my passion was difficult. My confidence? Shot. And don’t get me started on querying agents. Though I can joke about my skin being so thick that I can proudly say, “No cure for a hangover like the bitter cold of a form rejection,” actually trying has been well-nigh impossible.
And I am so done with that.
As of right now, there are times when I have been stronger. When I haven’t felt as weak and overwhelmed as I currently do. The same is true for me both physically *and* mentally. Yet one thing keeps coming back to me: The body remembers.
Just like unworked muscles, the writing muscles can atrophy. A tool not used feels hard to pick up again. It’s easy for doubt to set in, for self-assurance to wither as much as the abs.
Don’t let it. Wanna know a secret? You can get it back.
The most important thing to keep in mind is this: atrophying does not equal evaporation. The muscles are still there, and a part of them *still* exists. And a part of oneself remembers.
My workouts make a great parallel. I had to resume them at a lower intensity this past week, because going as hard as I used to was just not happening. And already I’m finding myself stronger, able to do a little bit more, bit by bit, as the month progresses. As for writing? I found a hack that I used to rely on when checking the e-mail address I use for querying: my cell phone. Typing the first draft into a small, less-daunting notepad has gotten me started on new scenes. Then I improve on them when I re-type them in my laptop. It’s just a little bit here and there, but it’s good. And slowly but surely, I’m getting back on track.
Build that strength. It never went away, even if it feels like it; that’s just the mind playing tricks on us. Because it *doesn’t* get any easier. But when we set our jaws, pick up those tools, use those muscles again, we learn that strength we had was never truly lost. We just need to tone it back up a bit.