Flexing a writing muscle

(I know, are you sick of me yet? Because I’ve been MIA for a while, I decided to fill in a few holes this week. Thanks for putting up with me and oh by the way, I’m happy to hear that I’m not alone in my book hoarding tendencies. )

Today’s little discussion is going to be about breaking out of your rut.

“What rut?” You may think – “What’s she talking about? I’m perfectly happy writing short stories, non-fiction, copy material or news articles.”

And chances are you probably are happy. You’ve got a routine, you can write what you need to write and perhaps it’s even gotten easy.

You don’t want to rock the boat, right?

But look at any kind of exercise program. You never go to the gym and do the exact same routine every day. You’re supposed to mix it up. Cardio one day, weights another, maybe even a day of rest. When you do this, your entire body gets stronger.

I recently went to Spain with a friend. When I’m on vacation I usually take at least 3 books to read (what if I finish one and there’s no bookstore around?) This time though, I only took one book. Lonely Planet’s Guide to Travel Writing. I took one book so that I would read that one book.

I’m not a travel writer. Oh sure, I can write *stories* about my travels but that’s different from “travel writing.”  (Here’s an example of my “story travel writing.

While we were on the plane(s), I read my book.

Before I turned off my light each night, I read my book.

I carried it with me and read the excellent examples of travel essays with pen in hand, highlighting certain parts that I thought were brilliant.

And something funny started to happen. When we visited a cathedral, I started noticing details that I might not have before. I began to pay more attention to history, how things were constructed and how it all fit together.

At a restaurant I noticed the atmosphere, the prices, the glasses in which our wine was served.

It’s like I started using some muscles that although they had been there all along had become weakened from non-use.

Does this make me a travel writer?

Absolutely not, no more than getting up and walking around the block makes me a marathoner.

But it does open my eyes. It adds more muscle to my skill kit. I liked what I read enough to try writing a few travel articles. Like anyone else with a new program, I’ll start small, but if I keep with it enough smalls will eventually lead to a large.

Consider flexing a new or unused writing muscle in your spare time this weekend.

Read, do, write.



Wendy Thomas is an award winning journalist, columnist, and blogger who believes that taking challenges in life will always lead to goodness. She is the mother of 6 funny and creative kids and it is her goal to teach them through stories and lessons.

Wendy’s current project involves writing about her family’s experiences with chickens (yes, chickens). (www.simplethrift.wordpress.com) She writes about her chickens for GRIT, Backyard Poultry, Chicken Community, and Mother Earth News.

11 thoughts on “Flexing a writing muscle

  1. Observation must make someone a better writer. I am a lazy writer, writing with imagination and avoiding research. We keep being told to take a notebook everywhere we go. I still don’t take a mobile phone and so miss out on good photos. The habits of a lifetime are hard to change. Thanks for the insight.

  2. I carry a moleskin notebook so that I can record my observations while I am in Spain and collect snaps with my mobile. Both were useful for research when writing my novel set in Spain but to be a travel writer would require a different scope of research material. I, like most writers, am a curious beast and therefore love observing mankind.

  3. Thank you so much for your thoughts. Yes I understand what you are saying. When we stop doing the same thing, when our minds become bored, suddenly our eyes move on to new things. It need not be new but we begin to notice things as if we have never seen before. A plus point for travelling to see things through new eyes. Happy writing 🙂 ❤

  4. Really liked the exercise analogy! Very apt and made me think about changing up my writing routine a bit. Thanks!

  5. I actually just bought the same book myself. Reading it is like attending a writing workshop because of the exercises it presents you with. If you actually do them it will plunge you into the world of creative writing, opening up the senses of observation like you mentioned above. I took to the practice and wrote about the atmosphere in the local coffee shop the other day (exercise 1). Today I thought back on a memory and worked on a jumble of exercises 2-5. Just posted about it actually. Check it out if you would like. I’m new to WordPress so I appreciate peer review and constructive criticism. Thanks. Good work.

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