Thursday, September 18, 2008

Writing Gym

Tuesday 17 September 2008. I have come to the conclusion that writing for lots of different publications is like using a gym -- only a lot more enjoyable.
Every so often I decide that I must get fitter and, having a Type A personality, I sign up for a year's gym membership, get myself a personal training plan and start going four times a week. Now, what all these episodes have in common (apart from the fact that they last only six weeks), is that they all involve doing a variety of exercises on a variety of machines. That way, all your muscles get toned, and without getting muscle fatigue in any one area.
Well, writing can be the same. You need to work on different types of material, for different audiences and different purposes, in order to keep yourself agile. That's my theory anyway.
Now and again I go to the library and borrow one of those books full of writing exercises. The thing is, though, they look good, with their invitations to complete a sentence or write 5 words about a photo, or whatever, but they are sterile. Writing for no purpose is sterility itself. At least if you are writing for writing's sake, you are writing with a purpose, if only in an aimless, self-referential sort of way. But exercises? The whole idea reminds me of the worst kind of IT lesson, where the teacher gets the kids to do boring, disjointed, unconnected, aimless and trivial stuff on a spreadsheet, whereas the only way people really learn is by having a problem to solve.
So, today I wanted to write for my own website, and another blog, and also to compose emails to various people of varying degrees of acquaintanceship with me -- which is why I regard email writing as creative writing in its own right.
I have spent a total of 4 hours on trains, much of it standing up. It's hard to write in those circumstances, so it is mostly all in my head. Such a shame I can't print my head really. Now the challenge is to write as much as possible before I either forget it all or collapse from fatigue.
Too late. At around 11:03 I find myself nodding off at the keyboard. I manage, with the aid of a bowl of cereals and a cup of tea, to raise my blood sugar level sufficiently to allow me to complete the article I'm writing.
It is not ideal. Tomorrow, perhaps, I will make up for lost time.

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