I love writing. I’ve known this for a long time, but it has become increasingly clear over the last few years. Taking a year off has only made that more clear. A year ago, I decided to attempt to write a novel, and so to trade one sort of writing for another. For better or for worse, the novel didn’t happen. I managed to write about 10,000 words, but then I ended up spending that time learning web design for the rest of the year. Ultimately, I think that use of time will prove to have been wise, as I am now planning to do web design and development as a job in the near future. The result, in any case, was a year in which I did very little writing.
I missed it. More even than I realized, until I began writing again. As I quickly pounded out a post for Ardent Fidelity last night, I experienced a particular happiness I had not felt in quite some time.
Writing, as I explained to Jaimie a few days ago, is not only relaxing and fun but also incredibly productive. I think as I write, and so I come to understand the topic on which I am writing better in the act of creation. (I have, on occasion, had to rewrite initial sections of blog posts entirely when I ended up coming to a different conclusion than I expected when I began writing.)
Unfortunately, I have gotten rusty. After finishing those 10,000 words of a stab at a novel, I produced less than 5,000 words of published content the rest of 2011. It shows. My writing is a bit choppy, a bit less polished than I would prefer. I need to edit more, tighten things up around the edges more. My idiosyncrasies are back, though perhaps a bit more restrained than they once were. My “voice” is blurrier.
Thankfully, as with all creative arts, practice makes better. (Not perfect, but better.) Accordingly, I will get better if I can write just a few times a week, in the various genres this new site layout so readily affords – musings on art here, conversational discussions of family life over at On the Hearth, technical discussions at Designgineering, and theological thought (some of it very carefully organized and structured) at Ardent Fidelity. I am hoping that the breadth of content will push me in ways that my old blogs have not.
The downside to all of this is that it takes time. So it is with any hobby; the question is whether the rewards of the hobby – intrinsic, extrinsic, or a combination of the two – outweigh the cost in time. The year I took off from writing made clear to me that the intrinsic rewards of writing far outweigh the price in hours it demands. I am increasingly aware of the same truth in my approaches to photography and music composition – arts I enjoy deeply but to which I have not devoted sufficient time as to produce much content, much less masterful content. Worse, the more time I stay away, the less skillful I find myself.
As in running, those atrophied “muscles” are painfully frustrating at the beginning; they present a powerful incentive to continue working faithfully even when the process is difficult, or when time is cramped. The results of daily discipline are rarely visible in the short run, but the cost of a lack of discipline is always visible in the long run. So in 2012, I hope to exercise my creative muscles along with my physical muscles – come what may!