writing habits

“I figured you’d have a book written by now,” by friend Becca said in regards to my current immobility.

I scoffed. “It turns out that movement is a critical part of my writing process,” I retorted.

I’ve always thought of myself as a low-maintenance writer. There are not a lot of conditions that need to be met so that I can write. Habits are based on cues. If we train ourselves to respond to a cue, then there will be an automatic reaction that leads to the habit. I have three cues that lead to writing.

  1. Open my laptop.
  2. Open my notebook.
  3. Pick up a pen.

I don’t need all three to cue writing. One is sufficient. Some people have elaborate cues. I decided simple is best for me. 

What I’ve realized is that much of my writing happens when I’m on the move. I go for a run and run the words through my mind, finding the right sound of phrases. I throw frisbees for Luna and throw ideas into the realm of possibilities. I gather a load of laundry and gather the structure of a draft. I chop an apple and chop through the barriers of revisions.  I iron work shirts and iron out the wrinkles of paragraphs. 

It seems movement is an integral, albeit secret, part of my writing process. 

But what if movement is limited? Does that mean writing ceases?

I’m learning many things in the season of immobility, and one of them is who I am at the core. When the nonessentials are stripped away, what is left?

Is movement an essential to my writing life? 

It is definitely a habit, so deeply ingrained I wasn’t even aware of the influence it had on my writing life. Movement clears my mind. It wipes away the constant ticker-tape of tasks. It offers clarity and space for things that are most important to me. Movement calibrates my mind. 

Since my injury, I have had a difficult time focusing. The lack of focus is not from medication because I have not taken any for weeks. It could be from pain and part of the intensity of healing. Or, it could be from lack of movement. 

Regardless, I return to my cues and find the simplicity of opening my laptop or opening  a notebook or picking up a pen puts the habit in motion. 

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  1. Your brain is working hard to support the healing process so it’s not churning out words and concepts to put into writing. It will come.

  2. Isn’t it funny how we don’t notice the things we depend on until they go missing? I love that you are focusing on the movement of the pen. You are a writer, even if words aren’t making it onto the page like you imagined right now.