Keep the Writing Connections Alive


Usually, I begin each day by writing in my journal for half an hour. This allows me to sort of “declutter” my mind before moving forward into the day ahead, and it also prompts me to record more of my life than I would if I was only writing when I felt like it, or when it seemed something important had happened. But I did not write first thing this morning.

I slept.

And slept.

And of course, when I woke up, it was time to jump right into work — and into a day that proved very quickly to be one of those that would make my shoulders tense and my mind whir as I tried to figure out how to get it all done. I did not write first thing in the morning, but I am in the middle of writing two news stories, both due tonight.

Still, I don’t really regret the choice to sleep this morning. I have a couple health conditions that make me a little more “needy” of my sleep than most Americans seem to be, and I’m cranky and muddled if I get anything less than 7 hours. I was still recovering this morning from the cruelty of daylight savings time snatching an hour away (a WEEKEND hour, no less, the best kind!) because I couldn’t fall asleep easily last night — my body knew it wasn’t “really” bedtime yet regardless of what the clock said. So, this only happens once a year, and it turned out I was about to have the sort of day that warranted the extra rest. As stressful as this day has been, it would have been even worse on less sleep.

It’s a pity that daylight savings happened at a time when there were things I really felt I needed to write about, though — experiences or observations that occurred over the weekend (I don’t do my “morning pages” on weekends), as well as a vivid and fascinating dream sequence from last night that will probably be all but faded, or usurped by another, by the time I have a chance to write about it tomorrow.

Skipping writing this morning made me think of a podcast interview I hosted with a children’s/YA author last Friday. One of the things she said was that it only takes 3 days for the writing “synapses” in your brain to disintegrate if you don’t use them regularly by writing. And that it takes another 3 days for them to build up again once you get back to it.

I have not researched the veracity of these facts, because I think they are helpful whether they are true or not. On an intuitive level it seems to make sense — after all, it’s much easier to gain weight than to lose it, to stay sober than to succumb to addiction, or to mess up a house than to clean it. In some ways, the fact that it takes the same amount of time to rebuild those connections as it took to lose them when it comes to writing is something of a “lucky break.” For most everything else, you need to work twice as hard to get back to where you once were.

Even so, I found myself panicking a bit when I heard this fact. It seems all too easy to go 3 days without writing — that’s a single long-weekend spent away. But when I factor in my morning pages and all the writing I do for my job, I realize that I rarely DO go 3 days in a row without writing. Although I only occasionally write on Saturdays, I almost always write on Sundays. Because of my morning pages, that leaves just one day most weeks that I don’t write ANYTHING, which is the standard I used to try to hold myself to when I was a teenager (I would write “no writing” on the calendar on the days I missed, which led to such guilt that I rarely had to do it more than once a week.)

Looks like my teenage subconscious knew a little something about the way the brain works that I should still be paying attention to now.