Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Mind the Perishables

I'm not talking about these perishables. (Though they do look mouth-watering.)

I'm talking about perishable skills. You've heard the phrase Use It or Lose It? Perishable skills are ones that you lose if you don't use them.

Reading is not a perishable skill, but I contend that thinking is. (Not the oh, look, that cloud looks like a rhinoceros thinking, but problem solving, analytical thinking. Just try to do advanced algebra after not doing it for several years, even if you used to be a whiz at it. Go ahead, try it.)

Riding a bike is not a perishable skill. Running, on the other hand, is. If I take time off from running, then I have to spend several days playing catch up to even feel like I'm back to where I started. Having experienced this phenomenon several times, I now make sure to run at least a little every week.

Writing most definitely is a perishable skill. The more you write, the more you feel like writing. And when you take a break from it, the harder it is to start up again. Some of the things I learned from participating in National Novel Writing Month last year (besides the fact that yes, I can produce a shocking number of words that are mostly crap) is that 1) I could write consistently, day in and day out, 2) I discovered my best output per day (I was mostly coherent to a certain number of pages, but if I had to go beyond that you could kiss decent writing goodbye), and 3) when I wrote consistently it was easier to write consistently.

So mind your perishables, because it's easier to maintain your groove/habit than to get it back.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go do some advanced algebra.


Valerie Ipson said...

I aspire to daily writing as I've heard that is the best habit for a writer to have...somedays it's just hard. It's like running, I think, if a few days pass then it takes some time to get back into story-mode, and that's wasted time.

Christine Fonseca said...

Love this! Thanks. And I left something for you on my blog today: