Do Your Stretches; Don't Cramp Up

Writing is like any other exercise. We can get stuck in the same old routine, writing the same old stuff.

Sometimes we need to just flex our imagination and stretch our schedules. Or our stories. Or whatever should be done to get the blood flowing again.

A few months ago, as I was writing The Bad Boy's Redemption, I noticed a peculiar condition. As soon as I reached 1000 words I'd close the story. Even if I wasn't tired, even if I still had time to write. It was like the way I used to run in track. I never went over three miles.

I never stretched myself past my comfort zone.

Are you cramped in your writing? Have you thought of writing less, more, a different story, something to just stretch your creative muscles and get some juices stirred?


Angie Ledbetter said…
*Pass the Icy Hot, please.* :)
But working on different sorts of writing projects helps with the stretching. Long hand vs. keyboard too.
Unknown said…
Interesting analogy. I've never thought about it like that. I'm thinking I possibly need to get on a treadmill and build up my strength!
Oh, I like this. It reminds me of the adage: Change is as good as a rest.

I know it works in other areas of my life, I should try it with writing, too.
anita said…
Great post, Jessie! One of the ways I sometimes stretch my writing muscles is by taking a break between writing novels and writing a short story now and again.

Have a super stretchy day! Snort.
Jody Hedlund said…
I was recently reading James Scott Bell's revision book and he said that we all need to be continually growing, even published authors need to always give themselves new goals in their writing growth. That was encouraging to hear. No matter where we're at, there's always room for growth.
Jennifer Shirk said…
I always feel the need to stretch myself--more to keep my writing fresh and so I don't get bored.
In fact, right now I'm trying a new way of plotting and I'm thinking of writing a different genre. Will see what happens. :)
Nancy J. Parra said…
Great post- and yes, even published authors need to keep learning and stretching and growing. LOL

Sometimes even simply changing the time of day you write helps mix things up. Cheers!
Interesting analogy, Jess. If I stay in one position too long, I'm stiff and my muscles cramp. I guess if I stay in one writing mode too long my mind will tie itself into a knot.

I'm finding I need some serious downtime. Getting out, meeting people, enjoying nature all refresh me.

Thanks. I never quite thought of it that way.

Susan :)
Katie Salidas said…
Love the analogy here. Yes, I do think it is time for a little strech. he he he!

Amy DeTrempe said…
Right now I feel a bit cramped. When I used to participate in fun writing exercises, I found all of my writing flowed better and I had a ton of ideas. But, I have recently realized that the exercises are what helped keep the creative juices stirred. I need to get back to doing those.
Tana said…
After 1000k I've exhausted my imagination for the story. I'm working on two WIP now and I seem to have the stamina to do 1000 for each. (we'll see how long this last lol)
Oh, thank you for giving me permission to write something different, or more than my 'goal' for the day or week.
I recently started a children's story, which is out on the edge of the pier for me. Your words are an encouragement to just finish it.
Blessings on you for this!
Angie, I'm crossing my fingers that I won't need Icy Hot. LOL!
What a great idea to try longhand. I've heard some people mention that but I actually haven't tried it (except in 8th grade, before my momma got me a used typewriter, lol)
Great idea!
Hi Marybeth,
Don't forget to up the incline on the treadmill. LOL! Have fun. :-)
I've actually never heard that adage before. Thanks for sharing it! And you're right, change is good, even if it's only a temporary thing.
LOL Anita! You funny lady. :-) I had no clue you write short stories between novels. That is definitely a change of pace. Yet it still keeps the fiction skills sharp.
I didn't even know Bell had a revision book. He's an author I hear alot about but haven't yet read. That's great advice about growth.
LOL Sometimes I'd like to just stop growing and stay in my comfy little spot. But the hard thing about life is nothing stays the same. So I'd either grow or I'd stagnate.
Thanks for sharing that snippet!
That's right, you wrote about it on your blog. I can't wait to see how that works out for you, Jennifer! :-) Keep your funny voice if you can. LOL
LOL Nancy. You're so right. It can be something little. Thanks for stopping by!
LOL Susan! You're the one who made the interesting analogy. I hadn't even thought about sitting in one place and cramping. I was just thinking about doing the same exercises all the time.
Great take!
LOL Katie! Stretch away. :-)
You should Amy. Do you belong to any groups who do that? I know RWC (Charlotte Dillon's thing) has a group expressly for writing prompts. You might enjoy that. :-)
T. Anne, I hope it lasts awhile.
:-) Since it's two stories you maybe have separate energy for them. You know, exhaust one idea (like you said) but then you're ready to work on the different wip.
Let us know how it works out!
Hey Jen,
A children's story? That is WAY different than articles. I hope you have tons of fun writing it! You know, Angela Elwell Hunt got famous with a children's story. She won a contest with it and the book ended up being a bestseller.
:-) You never know where you'll end up when you try something new.
Dara said…
I literally just wrote something similar today. I'm definitely switching focus (at least for a little while) to my new novel. I feel like my creative juices just weren't flowing for the other one, although I'm not scrapping it. I think I just need a breather from that one.

Plus this new one has some fantasy/paranormal elements to it--something I've never done before! So it should help me stretch my muscles a bit :)
Sounds like it will. New stuff is always so thrilling! :-)
Jessie Oliveros said…
The novel I was working on as of a few weeks ago cramped so hard, I had to amputate. New book now...again. I feel like I can breathe (and stretch) now.
Hahaa! Amputate, that's a strong word. LOL Glad you can breathe now.
Danyelle L. said…
For me, it's all tied to energy. If I'm really tired, I drag myself across the finish line, but that's it. Or if I have the computer hooked up to the Internet. Otherwise, I just type. :D
LOL Danyelle! The internet is such a seductive distraction. When I'm tired I find it very, very hard to write.
Good for you for just typing. :-) That's the way to get things done.
Karen Hossink said…
Awwww, I didn't want to think about exercise again! Kevin pushed me BIG TIME this morning and I think I'll be feeling it tomorrow.
But you're right. It is good to be pushed, to stretch ourselves. And so we keep on working.
Good for him! I had to push myself to do the cross trainer machine for more than 20 minutes. Ack. It was tough.
You will feel it, but won't you be glad when you see those nice, hard muscles in the mirror? :-)
Terri Tiffany said…
My latest story is a different stretch for me--and I am loving it! But it is easy to want to flip back to the comfortable, isn't it?
Rita Gerlach said…
I like equating writing to exercise, Jessica. So true. You've got me thinking, I need to examine my writing habits more closely.
Yes it is, Terri. Comfy is nice. LOL I can't wait to see what happens with your new story. :-)
Hi Rita,
Thanks for stopping by! Yours must be working since you have a book coming out. LOL But it's never too late for a little stretch. :-)
Karen Hossink said…
LOL! Honestly, the thing that keeps me going is the realization that my thighs don't touch anymore.
You're so trim you probably don't even know what I'm talking about, but, believe me - it's a nice change and very much worth the "butt-kicking." *grin*
Well my thighs do touch, so trust me, this body ain't that trim. Just skinny. LOL But I'm working on firming up *crossing fingers*
Yes, I do remember back in high school when my thighs didn't touch. Too bad I didn't realize how lucky I was. Snort!
You look so incredible. You're workouts must be tough. lol

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